Minnesota's Coastal Program Grants

Every year the DNR offers grants to help communities, agencies, and organizations balance protection of Lake Superior coastal resources with providing places for people to live, work, and play.

Funding Opportunities

This year we have three funding opportunities.

1. Annual

This year's call for applications is closed. Look for next year's call in October 2019.

Annual grants are the program’s largest awards, ranging in size from $10,000 to $100,000. Grantees have 15 months to complete their projects. Applications are due in November for projects that, if funded, will start the following September.

Local units of government can apply for a construction (dirt moving) or acquisition project under an Annual grant. If you are applying for such a project, please review the NOAA Section 306A Guidance. The project must meet the identified objectives and uses explained in the guide. You will be responsible for completing the required documentation.

2. Short Term Action Request (STAR)

We are now accepting applications for our STAR grants.

STAR grants are the program’s most popular opportunity. The grant funds are small ($2,500 - $10,000). Grantee have 6 months to complete their projects. Applications are due a minimum of five months prior to the January 1, April 1, July 1 and October 1 start dates.

Acquisition projects or activities that involve moving dirt or destroying vegetation are not eligible for STAR grant funds. For example, you cannot erect signs, plant plants, pull invasive species, or build boardwalks or trails.

3. Conference Support

This is a new opportunity for those looking to host or attend a coastal management conference. We will award up to $4,500 per request, based on actual expenses. Application are due at least 30 days in advance of the conference.

Resources for Grantees


What is the DNR process for awarding grants?

The DNR awards the Annual and STAR grant funds through a competitive process. We will award eligible requests for conference support, as funding exists.

What type of project could I do with a grant?

Your project must be located in Minnesota’s coastal area and help achieve one of the following goals of the national Coastal Zone Management Act):

Coastal Habitat: Protect the coastal areas’ natural resources and habitats.

Coastal Hazards: Protect lives and property in the coastal area by minimizing risk from natural hazards such as storms, flooding and erosion.

Water Quality: Safeguard and restore water quality in Lake Superior and area streams.

Public Access: Create or enhance public access to Minnesota’s coast and Lake Superior.

Coastal Community Development: Help communities manage development along the Lake Superior coast in a sustainable way.

Coordination and Public Involvement: Collect, analyze, and share information that leads to better coastal land and water management by government and citizens.

Where do projects have to take place?

The project’s principal activities must occur within the following:

  • The Minnesota waters of Lake Superior
  • Public (non-federal) land in Minnesota’s coastal area

In the event that any activities of the project take place outside of the coastal area, the applicant will need to demonstrate that the project will have direct substantial benefits within the coastal area.

For more information on Minnesota’s coastal area, use the interactive maps or call 218-834-1446. 

Which entities are eligible to receive a grant?

Cities, townships and counties within the coastal area

Area-wide agencies

Regional planning agencies

State agencies (excluding the DNR)

Non-profit organizations

Colleges and universities

Public school districts in the coastal area

Conservation districts

Port authorities

Tribal governments

Joint powers boards

Sanitary sewer boards

What activities are NOT eligible for grant funds?

If your agency or organization is interested in applying, we encourage you to contact us.  Early communication with the grants specialist can help ensure your project is eligible and that it keeps with the goals of the program.

Generally, the following activities are not eligible.

  • Creation of wetlands or other habitat required as a condition of a permit or any other regulatory action
  • Projects at wetland mitigation banks
  • Maintenance and/or purchase of recreational equipment
  • Harbor dredging
  • Warehouse demolition
  • Breakwater construction
  • Large-scale hard structure erosion control projects
  • Beach re-nourishment
  • Building marinas
  • Infrastructure projects related to road, water and sewer line construction
  • Improvements to buildings for rental, lodging or private property
Where do the funds come from?

These are federal pass-through funds. The DNR receives the funds for Coastal Program grants from the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, Office for Coastal Management.

How will I get the funds?

This is a reimbursement grant program.  The project sponsor must make the initial outlays for the project and then request reimbursement.  Reimbursement requests must include supporting documentation of eligible expenses.

Is match required?

Yes, all Coastal Program grants require some kind of local or state funding or work in-kind contributions. The amount varies; consult the grant notice for specific requirements.

What has the Coastal Program funded in the past?

Since 2001, the DNR has awarded more than $12.5 million to over 600 projects. These projects occurred all along the coast and addressed all goals of Coastal Management. Contact the program for more information.

Funding Summary: July 1, 2015 - June 30, 2018

Who can I contact if I have questions?

Direct your questions to Cynthia Poyhonen, Grants Specialist, (218) 834-1447

or [email protected].

Sign up for updates