KRA Watershed Grants

In 2003, the Kentucky River Authority initiated a Watershed Grant Program to provide financial assistance to local groups interested in engaging in watershed education, management or water quality sampling activities.

Grants of up to $3,000 have been awarded to applicants since 2004, and descriptions of past grant projects are provided below.

These watershed grants from the Kentucky River Authority have provided much-needed funding assistance for local efforts to improve water quality conditions throughout the Kentucky River Basin. Further, the projects funded by the grants help inspire community interest, education and enthusiasm for continued watershed initiatives.

The deadline for submitting applications for 2019 KRA Watershed Grants is July 15, 2019.  Please click here for the application and submission instructions.

FY 2017-18

Watershed Festival
Recipient:  Bluegrass GreensourceWest Hickman Creek
Focus Watershed:  West Hickman Creek (Jessamine/Fayette Counties)

Bluegrass Greensource will work with Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government, other local partners and watershed residents to organize a watershed education event.  The festival will promote awareness of the importance of water quality and environmental stewardship in a fun, learning-centered atmosphere.

Watershed Improvements and Educational Outreach
Wood and Waters Land Trust
Focus Watershed: Vaughn's Branch (Franklin County)

Wood and Waters Land Trust will conduct various activities to better understand the water quality of Vaughn’s Branch and educate others about their findings.  This will include assessments of aquatic biology and the potential for neighboring land tracts to provide forested protection for the stream.  A Water Week event with educational hikes, brown bag informational lunches for area businesses, and an educational sign will further facilitate educational efforts.  Wood and Waters will also conduct ongoing removal of invasive plant species, which threaten the survival of critical native plants on the Vaughn’s Branch preserve.

Outreach Support
Recipient:  Headwaters, Inc.
Focus Watershed: North Fork Kentucky River Headwaters (Letcher County)

This funding will be used to assist with the cost-share for the 2018/2019 VISTA Watershed Coordinator term.  It will also be used to purchase watershed education materials that will be utilized by the coordinator for education programming. The watershed education materials include a stream table kit, biotic indicators of water quality display, a water cycle model, and miscellaneous Project WET materials.

Red River FestivalRed River Gorge
Kentucky Waterways Alliance
Focus Watershed:  Red River (Menifee, Powell and Wolfe Counties)

The Red River Watershed Coordinator will plan and coordinate a Red River Watershed Festival to enhance local efforts to improve water quality.  This festival will be held in the fall of 2018 in coordination with the 50th anniversary of the creation of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act and the 25th anniversary of the Red River receiving this designation.  Visitors to the festival will experience hands-on educational activities about water quality and its importance, as well as related outdoor recreation informational booths and activities.

Green Infrastructure Project 
Wolfe County High School
Focus Watershed: Swift Camp Creek of Red River

In conjunction with an ongoing stream monitoring project, Wolfe County high school students will work with their teacher and outside experts to develop plans for better managing stormwater runoff from Wolfe County High School property.  At least one of the student-led projects will be installed with the assistance of local agencies.  Once installed, this stormwater “best management practice” will serve as an ongoing educational demonstration tool for students, as well as community members, and will provide recognition of the importance of managing land effects to improve and protect water quality.


Town Creek Riparian Buffer Enhancement
Recipient: AdventureServe Ministries
Focus Watershed: Town Creek of Jessamine Creek (Jessamine County)

AdventureServe and local partners will enhance the stream that flows through Wilmore by removing a dilapidated building and planting the former building site with native vegetation.  This riparian buffer area will be used for various community education opportunties, and will serve as a highly visible demonstration tool for teaching about responsible streambank management.

Funding Assistance for AmeriCorps VISTA Watershed Coordinator
Headwaters, Inc.
Focus Watershed: North Fork Kentucky River

This funding will continue to support the assistance of a Watershed Coordinator in carrying out the day-to-day operations of the Headwaters organization, as well as the pursuit of a watershed plan for the North Fork Kentucky River headwaters.

Environmental Summer Camp/Riparian Buffer Enhancement
Kentucky Environmental Foundation
Focus Watershed: Middle Fork of the Red River (Powell County)

The Kentucky Environmental Foundation will host a week-long summer camp, called Wild Roots, during which campers will combine outdoor activities with environmental education.  The camp attendees will complete stream and watershed assessments, remove invasive plants and replace with native species, clean up trash, and install signage explaining their efforts.  This project will be conducted along the Middle Fork of the Red River in coordination with the recommendations of the Red River Gorge Watershed Plan.

Watershed Education Using an Enviroscape Model
Lincoln County Public Library
Focus Watershed: Dix River Watershed (Lincoln County)

The library will purchase Enviroscape model tools and provide environmental education using these models to show how litter and runoff pollution affects area streams and waterways.  This outreach will be performed at the library, as well as at local schools and community gatherings.  Teachers are also able to check out the materials for their own instructional use.

Agricultural Landowner Workshops
Recipient: Scott County Conservation District
Focus Watershed: Eagle and Elkhorn Creek (Scott County)

The Scott County Conservation District will provide workshops to help farmers update their Agricultural Water Quality Plans and find cost-share assistance for appropriate "best management practices" that reduce runoff pollution to adjacent streams.

FY 2015-16

Cardinal Run Riparian Improvement Project
Recipient: Colony Neighborhood Association
Focus Watershed: Wolf Run of South Elkhorn Creek  (Fayette County)

This project continues an ongoing riparian buffer restoration initiative in the Wolf Run watershed. The Colony Neighborhood Association has been removing invasive plants along a 600-foot tributary of Cardinal Run and replanting with native plant species. Members of the project have also been conducting water quality sampling through the Kentucky River Watershed Watch program to monitor changes in water quality. This project will create a public site where individuals or groups can observe and become educated about native plant species. Plant markers will be installed to identify the different varieties of plants used, and a field guide will be prepared with more information about the selection, installation, care, and benefits of each plant type. Funds will also be used to purchase additional native plants not currently represented at the site. 

Stormwater Management Practices Educational Video
Recipient: Bluegrass Greensource
Focus Watershed: Kentucky River Basin

Bluegrass Greensource has been working to educate students and adults about how simple changes can improve water quality since 2001.  One of the most used tools is the EnviroScape, a molded plastic model of a watershed. In this activity, the educator explains how the community contributes to non-point source (runoff) pollution.  Then, the educator shows how simple best management practices can reduce the amount of pollution from stormwater runoff to nearby waterways.  The EnviroScape is an amazing tool to show how individuals can affect water quality, but the showcased BMP’s (Best Management Practices) can be hard for students to connect to the real world. 

Bluegrass Greensource will create a video showing local real world examples of the BMPs represented in the EnviroScape lesson, such as silt fencing, livestock exclusion fencing, reponsible fertilizer and pesticide application, and stormwater treatment approaches. The video will be shown after the demonstration, and will allow students to connect what they learned to what they see throughout the region.  

Water Quality Education Project
Recipient: Leslie County Conservation District
Focus Watershed: Middle Fork of the Kentucky River  (Leslie County)

The Leslie County Conservation District wants local children to understand how pollution through oil spills, litter, etc. affect their drinking water and aquatic life; why recycling is important to the land and water; and why participation in water quality sampling programs, such as Water Watch, is important.  In order to help educate local youth, the District staff will provide an Environmental Day for all 3rd and 4th grade students.  This field day will focus on aquatic ecology and other water-related topics and will be centered on the Middle Fork of the Kentucky River, which flows through Leslie County.

Cane Creek of Red River Watershed Improvement and Education Project
Recipient: High Adventure Wilderness School
Focus Watershed: Cane Creek of Red River  (Menifee County)

This project will document and educate others about the effects of long-term (16 years) of land management improvements to the Cane Creek watershed.  During this time, various efforts have been made to remediate historical damage from logging, dumping, farming and gas well drilling.  Through field surveys, data compilation and other research, School staff and participating students will conduct:

  • A comprehensive stream and watershed survey (aquatic life assessment, habitat assessment, water quality sampling), conducted in coordination with Powell County High School biology classes
  • Watershed restoration of two acres of critical habitat, as part of an approved NRCS Conservation Stewardship Program.  Will be conducted as part of a local Boy Scout project.

Big Spring of Town Branch Improvement and Education Project
Recipient: Joseph's Dream
Focus Watershed: Big Spring of Town Branch  (Mercer County)

In order to improve a segment of Town Branch Big Spring that flows through Harrodsburg, Joseph’s Dream will work with local partners and volunteers to:

  1. Eradicate invasive species, such as Japanese Honeysuckle, and replace with native Kentucky Cane in some areas.
  2. Restore the waterway banks to native species to add shade and encourage visitors.
  3. Plant native shrubs and flowers in the shaded areas.
  4. Install signage to emphasize the historical and natural value of Big Spring, a National Registered Historic Site, as the original location of the First Permanent Settlement west of the Allegheny Mountains.
  5. Work toward constructing a walking path around the Big Spring area.

Project organizers will also encourage Mercer County schools to send students to visit the Spring and learn about its historical and ecological significance.  Additionally, local media will be invited to help educate the community about this important local, natural resource.

St. Asaph Creek Focus Study Project
Recipient: City of Stanford
Focus Watershed: St. Asaph's Creek (Lincoln County)

The project team will select three sites along the creek to complete regular water quality tests (pH, conductivity, etc.), biological assessment (macro and micro invertebrates, etc.) and physical measurements including temperature, depth, width and velocity. The sites will be selected based on research and possible problem areas. The team of trained samplers will use the Watershed Watch reporting form, and data will be uploaded to the state database website.

The historical and economic significance of the creek will be researched and documented, so that the community will realize the importance of this waterway and want to protect and preserve it.  Writings and art work about the creek will be promoted, collected and included in the documentation.  Presentations about the project will be available to interested adult and youth groups, such as civic groups and organizations.  Educational opportunities will include stream walks, classroom and lab experiences and workshops on related topics. 

Once the creek is studied, the project team will determine the topics and location of the signage along the creek.  The team will also make formal recommendations to the local city and county government officials about potential problems and suggestions about protecting and preserving the creek. 

FY 2014-15

Riparian Improvement & Outreach Project
Recipient: Firebrook Estates Homeowners Association
Focus Watershed: South Elkhorn Creek,  Fayette County

The Firebrook Estates homeowners will address problems with invasive plants along the streambank, streambank erosion and water quality by conducting the following activities:

1.) Establish a steering committee.

2.) Conduct a series of stream walks with area residents.

3.) Develop an action plan for rain garden development, streamside buffer reforestation and plantings, and a designated no-mow zone behind the line of restored plantings.

4.) Provide technical assistance for other property owners .

5.) Share results of the demonstration projects .

Watershed Festival at Shaker Creek
Recipient: Bluegrass Greensource
Focus Watershed: Shaker Creek, Mercer County

Bluegrass Greensource and its partners will hold a Watershed Festival at Shaker Village in Mercer County in the summer of 2015. The event will promote awareness of the importance of water quality, conservation, and stewardship and provide a fun atmosphere in which participants can learn about these topics. The festival will feature children’s activities, educational displays, water sport opportunities (such as paddling and/or a river cleanup), and booths from local organizations related to water quality.

Floating Wetland Island Project
Recipient: Friends of Wolf Run
Focus Watershed: Wolf Run of South Elkhorn Creek, Fayette County

Floating Wetland Islands are an innovative treatment system for use in stormwater retention ponds as a way to treat pollutants.  Since these are new systems for Lexington, this project would pilot design, install, and monitor several of these water quality systems to upgrade the skill and understanding of water quality managers with state, municipal and community groups.

Town Creek Riparian Improvement Project
Recipient: Adventure Serve Ministries
Focus Watershed: Town Creek of Jessamine Creek, Jessamine County

In order to improve a segment of Town Creek that flows through Wilmore, AdventureServe Ministries will work with local partners to:

1) Plant large trees in areas where the stream is exposed. 

2) Plant Little Henry Virginia Sweetspire in a more shaded area of the creek.

3) Eradicate invasive species like Japanese Honeysuckle and replace with native Kentucky Cane in some areas.

Students from the Wilmore Elementary School will fill in the dirt and mulch the trees and shrubs.  They will also observe a demonstration of water testing—pH, conductivity, and oxygen saturation—and hear a brief explanation about why the tests are important and the significance of biodiversity. 

VISTA Watershed Coordinator
Recipient: Headwaters, Inc. 
Focus Watershed: Headwaters of North Fork Kentucky River, Letcher County

Headwaters’ mission is to improve the watersheds in Letcher County and downstream communities through education, providing scientifically accurate and timely information, and instilling a sense of personal and community stewardship of natural resources.  This grant will help Headwaters to continue to host a full-time VISTA volunteer in 2015. Hosting a VISTA in the coming year will give Headwaters important capacity to transition to a more sustainable organizational structure.  With the VISTA volunteer's assistance, Headwaters will be working toward hiring a full-time staff member, in addition to the development of a 319 grant proposal to complete a Watershed Based Plan for a Letcher County watershed in the North Fork of the Kentucky River.

Kentucky River Documentary Video
Recipient: Appalshop, Inc.
Focus Watershed: Kentucky River Basin

Appalshop will finalize its documentary titled, "Our Kentucky River," to make it ready for viewing on Kentucky Educational Television (KET) and for distribution to libraries, schools and other interested individuals and organizations.  This video shows scenes of the river over a number of years, capturing its beauty, its problems, and its variation during the changing seasons.  By presenting the River in its various forms, it is hoped that the film will remove some of the indifference of viewers and draw attention to the importance of the Kentucky River.

FY 2013-14

Volunteer Water Quality Monitoring Outreach Tools
Recipient: Eastern Kentucky  University
Focus Watershed: Kentucky River Basin

An EKU student will serve as an intern for assisting the Kentucky River Watershed Watch (KRWW) organization with outreach tools.  KRWW is currently investigating ways of managing its 15+ years of data and making it more assessable and useful to both its volunteers and also other interested citizens and community leaders. To help KRWW make good decisions about the best use of resources and the best plan of action for long term data management, the student will:

  • Create handouts and/or presentation templates for increasing awareness of KRWW's local water quality sampling efforts, sampling results, and suggestions for improving water quality.
  • Develop a series of prototype large scale and small scale maps and map-based reports that could be easily customized for local watershed groups
  • Develop a series of “watershed grade” tools to help aggregate, synthesize, and visualize specific problems in the watershed.

Kentucky River Water Quality Sampling and Outreach
Recipient: Estill County Health Department
Focus Watershed: Kentucky River, Estill County

Water samples will be collected at various sites along the Kentucky River in Pools 11 and 12 for water quality analysis.  The registered Environmental Health Specialist at the Estill County Health Department will coordinate the involvement of EKU Environmental Health undergraduate and graduate students and Estill County High School students in the sample collection and analysis.  

The community partners will also perform an assessment of the local watershed for illegal dumping and for any other environmental factors that may affect water quality.  They will hold local community meetings to discuss river issues.  This project is the first step in a more comprehensive plan for improving the watershed and life along the Kentucky River in Estill County. 

Educational Tools for Aquatic Bioassessment Workshops
Recipient: Floracliff Nature Sanctuary
Focus Watershed: Elk Lick Creek, Fayette County and Lower Howards Creek, Clark County

Floracliff will purchase materials to be used as necessary tools to continue the Floracliff Field Studies Workshop, "Kentucky's Aquatic Biodiversity.”  The 2-day workshop, led by biologists from the Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission and the Kentucky Division of Water, is designed to give 12 participants hands-on field and laboratory experience in collecting, identifying, and discussing the ecology, habitats, and conservation of aquatic organisms. The workshop focuses on fish and macroinvertebrates collected from Elk Lick Creek at Floracliff and the nearby Lower Howards Creek.  

Water Sampling Equipment for Outdoor Classroom
Recipient: Garrard County High School
Focus Watershed: Turkey Creek and Fall Lick Creek, Garrard County

An outdoor classroom at the recently constructed Garrard County High School is used by the teachers for various teaching opportunities.  Additional equipment, including water quality sampling probes and whiteboards, will be purchased through this grant to enhance the learning experience of this evolving outdoor classroom space.

Reforestation of Mined Lands in Elk Creek Watershed
Recipient: Green Forests Work
Focus Watershed: Elk Creek, Letcher County

This project will improve a mining-related valley fill in the Elk Creek watershed of Letcher County.  Native hardwood trees will be planted on the sloped surface, and a post-planting herbicide will be applied to the invasive exotics to ensure that the planted trees survive. This will greatly improve water quality by adding a tree canopy to the rocky drainage ditch that has replaced the original headwater stream.  This will slow infiltration rates, mitigate flash flooding potential, and add leafy organic matter that will encourage various biotic life to repopulate the stream. Additionally, the trees will take up and slowly release water across the face of the valley fill, further mitigating flash flood impacts.

Study of Herbicide Effects on Water Quality and Willow Trees
Recipient: Northern Kentucky University
Focus Watershed: Drennon Creek, Big Twin  Creek, Lower Kentucky River, Owen and Henry Counties

University professors and students will study herbicide concentrations in water from the lower Kentucky River and its tributaries and the potential herbicide effects to native willow trees.  While some research has shown the negative effects of herbicides on fish and amphibians, research is lacking on the effects herbicides may have on non-target, native trees.  With these funds, results from this study will inform land managers on the impacts of herbicides on water quality and riparian shrubs in the lower Kentucky River region.