By Published On: May 10, 2022

America the Beautiful Challenge: A Key Opportunity for Conservation Funding

For decades, the IWJV has worked tirelessly to champion and leverage new funding to support voluntary, incentive-based conservation that benefits priority birds, other wildlife, agriculture, recreation, and forms of economic development. This work benefits western conservation communities, tribal nations, and the future of many that live, recreate, and work in the Intermountain West.

The newly announced America the Beautiful Challenge (ATBC) by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) provides a unique opportunity to leverage and connect partners with strategic priorities related to sagebrush restoration and management and Water 4 conservation.

Here’s the scoop:

  • The ATBC will advance conservation and restoration projects that are consistent with the principles outlined in the Conserving and Restoring America the Beautiful report. Approximately $85 million will be awarded in nationwide funding in year one. 
  • This solicitation is the result of financial contributions from the Department of the Interior, Department of Agriculture, and Department of Defense, as well as private philanthropy. This streamlines the application process, enabling larger, more impactful cross-boundary projects while making it easier to apply for multiple funds with one application. 
  • Projects will address the following themes: 
    • Conserving and restoring rivers, coasts, wetlands, and watersheds; 
    • Conserving and restoring forests, grasslands, and other important ecosystems that serve as carbon sinks; 
    • Connecting and reconnecting wildlife corridors, large landscapes, watersheds, and seascapes; 
    • Improving ecosystem and community resilience to coastal flooding, drought, and other climate-related threats; and,
    • Expanding access to the outdoors, particularly in underserved communities.
  • Projects that are informed by indigenous traditional knowledge and promote tribal co-stewardship are encouraged.
  • The full Request for Proposals can be found here.
  • America the Beautiful Challenge proposals are due July 21, 2022. Interested applicants should attend an informational webinar on Thursday, May 19, 2022, 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM Eastern Time and register here. 
  • The first round of grant awards are expected to be announced in November. This is anticipated to be an annual program for the next five years.

How the IWJV can help:

We are eager to see partners in the Intermountain West work together to submit competitive proposals via states, tribal governments and tribal-affiliated organizations, non-governmental organizations, and other qualifying entities. We can work with you to explore interagency and intergovernmental collaborations on priority projects that support strategic habitat conservation within our region, as well as serve as a critical resource in advancing landscape conservation plans with diverse stakeholders—especially connected to priority sagebrush and wetland conservation species. 

We welcome opportunities to use the IWJV’s collaborative, science, and technical expertise to make conservation action happen in local communities across the West through this opportunity. Please reach out to our Water 4 Coordinator, Joy Morris at or Director of Strategic Partnerships, Ali Duvall at with any questions or to discuss further.