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Coastal Zone Management Estuarine Research Reserves

Program Descriptions

Program Number



Coastal Zone Management Estuarine Research Reserves


Federal Agency




Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972, Section 312, Public Law 92-583, 16 U.S.C. 1451 Seq.; Coastal Zone Management Act Amendments of 1987, Section 315 (1), Public Law 94-370; Coastal Zone Management Act Amendments of 1980, Public Law 96-464; Coastal Zone Management Act Amendments of 1984, Public Law 98-960; Coastal Zone Act Reauthorization Amendments of 1990, Public Law 101-508.






To assist States in the development, acquisition, monitoring, research, education, operation and facilities construction for National Estuarine Research Reserves for the purpose of creating natural field laboratories to gather data and make studies of, and educate people about the natural and human processes occurring within the estuaries of the coastal zone.


Types of Assistance

Project Grants (Cooperative Agreements).


Uses and Use Restrictions

Grants may be used to cover the costs of land acquisition, development, research, education, operation and facilities construction for National Estuarine Research Reserves. Development and operation costs may include the administrative expenses necessary for implementing reserve programs. Grants are available to states for education projects at reserves. Competitive research grants are also available.


Eligibility Requirements

Applicant Eligibility

Land acquisition, development, operation, and facilities construction grants are available to any coastal State and, in some cases, public or private person, including those bordering the Great Lakes. For the purposes of the Coastal Zone Management Act, the coastal State also applies to Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. The Governor shall designate the State agency or entity to be the applicant. Competitive research grants are available to any coastal State or qualified public or private person. Education grants are available to any coastal State entity.

Beneficiary Eligibility

Any coastal State including those bordering the Great Lakes, as well as Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands are eligible for reserve operation, land acquisition, or construction awards where a reserve has been designated and for development awards for designating new reserves. Also qualified students are eligible to apply for research fellowship grants.


(1) For development grants: A letter from the Governor designating the lead agency for new reserve development; (2) for competitive research grant proposals which do not come from the lead agency: A letter from the reserve manager indicating formal support of the application by the lead agency; (3) for reserve operations, land acquisition, and construction: An application from the reserve lead agency or its designee. For all grants, a statement of work and budget estimate must be submitted. Costs will be determined in accordance with OMB Circular No. A-87 for state and local governments.


Application and Award Process

Preapplication Coordination

The standard application forms, as furnished by NOAA and required by 15 CFR Part 24, must be used when applying for Federal funding. These forms can be obtained from the NOAA Grants Management Division. Informal preapplication conferences are recommended. Consultation and assistance is available from NOAA in the preparation of an application. This program is eligible for coverage under E.O. 12372, "Intergovernmental Review of Federal Programs." If a State or local government is the provider of matching funds, an applicant should consult the office or official designated as the single point of contact in his or her State for more information on the process the State requires to be followed in applying for assistance if the State has selected the program for review.

Application Procedure

Proposals are submitted through For development (construction) awards, the Application for Federal Assistance (For Construction Programs) SF- 424, as furnished by NOAA is to be submitted in original plus two copies. For operation and management, education and research, acquisition and nonconstruction development awards, the application for Federal assistance (For Non-Construction Programs) SF-424 is to be used. This program is subject to the provisions of 15 CFR Part 24 for State and local governments.

Award Procedure

Applications are approved by the Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management and Grants Management Division.


Preapplications and applications should be submitted 150 and 120 days respectively prior to grant beginning date.

Range of Approval/Disapproval Time

From 90 to 150 workdays.


No formal procedure. If application is unacceptable the applicant is fully informed and may revise application.



Assistance Considerations

Formula and Matching Requirements

Range from 0 to 50 percent of the total project cost provided by the applicant depending upon the type of project. The Federal share for each reserve shall not exceed $5,000,000 for acquisition of lands, waters or interests therein, unless using Congressionally-directed funds.

Length and Time Phasing of Assistance

Generally, 18 months. Land acquisition and construction may be longer. Funds are released as required.


Post Assistance Requirements


All financial status reports and performance reports are required semi-annually.


In accordance with the provisions of OMB Circular No. A- 133, recipients that are States, Local Governments, Nonprofit Organizations, and Institutions of Higher Learning shall be subject to the audit requirements contained in the Single Audit Act Amendments of 1996 (31 U.S.C. 7501-7507). Commercial organizations shall be subject to the audit requirements as stipulated in the award document.


All financial and programmatic records, supporting documents, statistical reports, and other records of grantees or sub grantees are required to be maintained by the terms of the agreement. The grantee must retain records for three years from the date when the Final expenditure report is submitted.


Financial Information

Account Identification

13-1450-0-1-306; 13-1460-0-1-306.


(Grants) FY 07 $23,178,000; FY 08 est not available; and FY 09 est not reported.

Range and Average of Financial Assistance

$20,000 to $6,000,000. Average: $300,000.


Program Accomplishments

By the end of fiscal year 2005, there were 26 designated estuarine research reserves.


Regulations, Guidelines and Literature

15 CFR Part 921 National Estuarine Research Reserve System Program Regulations. Allowable cost will be determined in accordance with OMB Circular A-87 for State and local governments and Indian Tribes; OMB Circular A-122 for nonprofit and for-profit organizations; OMB Circular A-21 for institutions of higher education; and 48 CFR Part 31 for commercial organizations. Financial assistance management will be in accordance with 15 CFR Part 14 for institutions of higher education, hospitals, and other non-profit and commercial organizations, and with 15 CFR Part 24 for State and local governments.


Information Contacts

Regional or Local Office


Headquarters Office

Chief, Estuarine Reserves Division, Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management, National Ocean Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Department of Commerce, 1305 East-West Highway, N/ORM5, 10th Floor Silver Spring, MD 20910. Telephone: (301) 713-3155.

Web Site Address


Related Programs

11.417, Sea Grant Support
11.419, Coastal Zone Management Administration Awards
11.429, Marine Sanctuary Program


Examples of Funded Projects

Generic projects/activities funded under the National Estuarine Research Reserve program consist of: acquisition of lands to be included in the reserve; site selection procedures and management plan development; construction projects; operation of the reserve; and resource stewardship, research, and educational activities.


Criteria for Selecting Proposals

There are five types of awards to coastal States under the National Estuarine Research Reserve Program: (1) land acquisition; (2) development; (3) operation, education, monitoring; (4) research; and (5) facilities construction. Detailed criteria for the State's development of these awards and criteria for reviewing each award are provided in the regulations for the National Estuarine Research Reserves Program (15 CFR Part 921). Final regulations were published in the Federal Register, July 15, 1993.


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