Ecosystem Enhancement Program

Based on input from Basin residents, one of our priorities is to support healthy, diverse and functioning ecosystems. Our Ecosystem Enhancement Program will have a meaningful and measurable impact in supporting and strengthening ecosystem health in the Basin.

The Program goal is to help maintain and improve ecological health and native biodiversity in a variety of ecosystems, such as wetlands, fish habitat, forests and grasslands.

Previous years of the Program focused on different sub-regions. This year is a Basin-wide call for eligible project ideas that restore and/or enhance a variety of ecotypes, including terrestrial, aquatic and wetlands. The Trust will identify projects focused on enhancement and restoration by seeking input from community groups, First Nations representatives and government experts, and existing regional plans and research.

Download the Program Guide.

What Is The Ecosystem Enhancement Program?

The Ecosystem Enhancement Program (Program) aims to maintain and improve ecological health and native biodiversity in a variety of ecosystems by supporting landscape-scale ecosystem restoration and enhancement projects across the Basin. Projects funded via the Program will have a meaningful and measurable impact in supporting and strengthening ecosystem health in the Basin.

This Program addresses the Trust’s the Ecosystem Enhancement strategic priority and the Climate Resilience and Working with Indigenous Peoples integrated priorities outlined in the  Columbia_Basin_Management_Plan: Strategic Priorities_2020-23.

What Are The Ecosystem Enhancement Program Grants?

The Program supports landscape-scale projects that restore and/or enhance a variety of ecotypes, including terrestrial, aquatic and wetlands.

The Program focuses on projects that:

  • implement on-the-ground actions (rather than strictly research, education or planning) to support ecological health at a landscape-level;
  • yield meaningful and measurable benefits for ecological health and biodiversity;
  • reflect input received from Indigenous communities, community/non-profit groups and technical experts;
  • are ready or almost ready to implement (e.g. project workplans and prescriptions are complete or close to complete);
  • help address ecological priorities and emerging issues;
  • incorporate the perspectives of Indigenous Peoples in the Basin;
  • incorporate climate change mitigation and/or adaptation considerations;
  • are seeking or have other sources of funding secured; and
  • do not displace or duplicate government efforts or industry responsibility.

If you have an ecosystem enhancement project idea that may be smaller than landscape-scale, please contact us. We are interested in hearing about all potential restoration or enhancement ideas that could benefit Basin ecosystems!

Who Can Apply?

Eligible applicants include registered non-profits, Indigenous Communities and local governments in the Columbia Basin Trust region. (ourtrust.org/map).

The project should demonstrate that it will benefit ecosystems and residents of the Basin and that the primary beneficiary is not the applicant or solely the members of a membership-based organization.

Applicants operating outside the Basin must partner with community-based organizations in the Basin to be eligible and show that the Project benefits the Basin.

What is the Application Process?

The Ecosystem Enhancement Program has a three-step application process. This process provides applicants more support and time for project and application development.

  1. Determine eligibility: To submit an application, you must first contact the Ecosystem Enhancement Program Coordinator at ecosystems@ourtrust.org to discuss your project idea and its eligibility. If the idea is eligible, the link to the online Project Idea (Application) form will be provided to you.
  • Submit Project Idea Application: Applicants must then complete an online Application which will outline a high-level summary of your proposed project.
  • The Project Idea submission deadline is July 21 at 2:00 p.m. PT / 3:00 p.m. MT.
  • Your project idea will be shared and discussed at a community workshop. Community workshops provide an opportunity for community members to review the proposed projects and provide input.
  • Then with input from the Trust’s Ecosystem Enhancement Program Advisory Committee, the Trust evaluates and prioritizes project opportunities.
  • Complete Detailed Funding Proposal: Proponents of prioritized projects will then be invited to complete and submit a detailed Funding Proposal online, which includes detailed workplans and budgets, with support and guidance from Trust staff.
    • If selected to move forward, you will hear from us by October 21, 2022 and your detailed proposal will be due by January 20, 2023.

What Types Of Projects Are Not Eligible?

The Trust retains the right to determine individual project eligibility. Projects are not eligible if they:

  • Have the potential to duplicate or displace government or industry responsibility. This includes any restoration related to habitat fragmentation or other negative ecosystem impacts that have occurred because of identifiable industrial or commercial development or access (e.g. road development, hydroelectric reservoir drawdown zones, etc.)
  • Are focused on environmental education or research.
  • Take place outside the Basin.
  • Involve paying for core or ongoing operating expenses.
  • For projects on private land, the proposed project must be focused on ecological benefit rather than private benefit. Any works on private lands must include collaboration with landowners/managers and may be subject to legal agreements to ensure such works (e.g. habitat improvements) are preserved over the long term.
  • Undertake activities of political parties, advocacy or lobby groups or of organizations that are exclusive or discriminative in nature.

How Does The Trust Select Projects For Funding?

The Trust uses the following criteria to prioritize funding. A project must:

  • Demonstrate landscape-scale ecological benefits.
  • Be self sustaining in the long term.
  • Have low likelihood of residual adverse effects to other ecological, cultural or community values.
  • Align with Indigenous Peoples, community and expert input.
  • Projects that create local employment opportunities/economic benefits.
  • Additional consideration given to projects that incorporate:
    • Indigenous perspectives or partnerships with Indigenous Peoples; and
    • climate change mitigation and adaptation.

Trust staff may contact you at any time during the evaluation phase to request additional information.

How Much Will The Trust Fund?

Applicants can request up to a maximum of 75 per cent of total project costs from the Trust. 

The maximum amount of Trust funding for any one project is $750,000 with a maximum duration of five years for multi-year projects.

  • Applicants must demonstrate that they are contributing a minimum of 25 per cent of the project costs (in kind excluded) from sources other than the Trust.
  • Projects that demonstrate broad community support and confirmed cash contributions are more likely to receive funding.

The Trust hopes to support the creation of new job experience opportunities through successful ecosystem enhancement and restoration projects to this Program. These are opportunities for full time Basin residents to build on their existing education and increase their job related and technical skills through direct employment on projects. The Trust is prepared to support a portion of salaries for such positions:

  • 50% of the employee’s wage (total wage must be a minimum of $15.50 per hour);
  • the employee can work up to 40 hours per week for a maximum of one year; and
  • $100/week to provide valuable work-integrated learning and training opportunities beyond entry level skills.

Project coordination and management roles as well as full-time students are ineligible for support.  The Trust does not assist with hiring for job experience positions.

When Can My Project Start?

If approved, Trust funding can only be put toward approved project expenses after the funding agreement has been signed.

What Else Do I Have To Keep In Mind?

Even if a project meets the eligibility criteria it may not be selected for funding as the Trust often receives requests for more funding than what is available. The Trust retains the discretion to determine project eligibility and the amount of funding it may allocate to each project. The Trust retains the discretion to offer part, or all of the Trust portion of the funding request.

It is a requirement for projects to perform effectiveness monitoring and maintenance to ensure stated goals and objectives are achieved.  Program funding from the Trust can be used for monitoring and maintenance within the lifespan of the project up to a maximum of five years (i.e. the maximum project duration).

If you have an ecosystem enhancement project idea that may not be eligible for this program, (e.g., the idea is smaller than landscape-scale), please contact the Program Coordinator. We are interested in hearing about all potential project ideas that could benefit the Basin!

How Do I Apply?

  1. Contact the Program Coordinator at ecosystems@ourtrust.org.
  2. Download the Application Guide and the Worksheet at the link provided by the Program Coordinator.
  3. Review the Application Guide for direction and advice on how to complete the application form.
  4. Use the worksheet to develop your application offline if you so choose.
  5. Complete the application form and submit it online.

If you have any questions about the application process, please contact Program Coordinator at ecosystems@ourtrust.org.

Learn more about the ecological priorities and emerging issues and past projects in each sub-region.

Below are a list of additional resources available to Basin residents and organizations.

Prevention and Reduction of Invasive Species

We support efforts to prevent and reduce invasive species across the Basin that promote outreach and education related to the prevention and reduction of invasive species in the Basin. Learn more about what regional invasive species organizations are doing to prevent and reduce invasive species in the Basin:

Columbia Basin Environmental Education Network

The Columbia Basin Environmental Education Network aims to strengthen environmental education initiatives, stewardship and sustainability in the Basin by connecting environmental educators and organizations. It also delivers Wild Voices for Kids, which teaches students about the land, history and culture of the Basin.

Glaciers in the Canadian Columbia Basin (2020)
Published by the Canadian Columbia Basin Glacier and Snow Research Network with support from Columbia Basin Trust.

Columbia Basin Transboundary Conference: One River, One Future Proceedings (2019)

Community Engagement in Watershed Governance: Case Studies and Insights from the Upper Columbia River Basin.
Report was jointly produced by the POLIS Water Sustainability Project with Columbia Basin Trust and Living Lakes Canada.

Email Sign Up for Ecosystem Enhancement Program Updates

Email Sign Up for Ecosystem Enhancement Program Updates

To receive updates from the Trust about our Ecosystem Enhancement Program, enter your first name, last name and email below.

If you have a project idea or would like to contribute to one, please reach out the Program Coordinator at ecosystems@ourtrust.org to discuss next steps. The deadline for submitting project ideas is July 21, 2022.

Do you have an ecosystem restoration or enhancement project that is not eligible under the Ecosystem Enhancement Program? Contact us today. We want to hear about potential project ideas that could benefit Basin ecosystems.

The Trust also supports Basin communities and non-profits address ecosystem enhancement priorities through programs like the Grassland and Rangeland Enhancement Program, the Invasive Species Partnership and the Land Conservation and Stewardship Initiative. Learn more at ourtrust.org/environment.