Biden-Harris Administration Announces Up to $119 Million Available for Locally Led Conservation Projects through the 2024 America the Beautiful Challenge

For third year, President Biden’s Investing in America agenda will support locally led conservation projects to restore our nation’s lands and waters, communities can submit proposals through April 4

Last edited 02/26/2024

Date: Monday, February 26, 2024

RALEIGH, N.C. — The Biden-Harris administration today announced the release of the 2024 Request for Proposals (RFP) for the America the Beautiful Challenge, as part of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda. The program, which was launched in 2022 with support from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, is dedicated to funding landscape-scale conservation and restoration projects that implement existing conservation plans across the nation. In 2024, the program expects to award up to $119 million in grants to communities nationwide. 

The America the Beautiful Challenge advances President Biden’s America the Beautiful initiative, which set the nation’s first-ever goal to conserve and restore 30 percent of U.S. lands and waters by 2030. The 10-year, locally led and nationally scaled initiative lifts up efforts to protect, conserve, connect and restore the lands, waters and wildlife upon which we all depend. In his first two years in office, President Biden invested more dollars in conservation than any other President in a two-year period, and he is on track to conserve more lands and waters than any President in history.  

Acting Deputy Secretary of the Interior Laura Daniel-Davis announced the funding opportunity in Raleigh, North Carolina, where she met with local leaders to discuss America the Beautiful Challenge projects in the state. The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission received more than $4 million from the America the Beautiful Challenge in 2023 to build the resiliency of longleaf pine ecosystems in southeastern Sentinel Landscape and to establish an Atlantic white cedar forest and adapted peatland plant species. 

“Nature is our greatest ally in the fight against climate change – and President Biden’s Investing in America agenda is helping ensure we have the resources we need to reach our conservation goals,” said Acting Deputy Secretary Daniel-Davis. “Through the America the Beautiful Challenge, we are deploying historic resources to restore our nation’s lands and waters in partnership with Tribes, local communities and private landowners. This work is making an impact across landscapes, benefiting endangered species, expanding our use of Indigenous Knowledge and helping us to build an environment fit to pass down to future generations.” 

White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Brenda Mallory will also highlight this announcement today in southeast Washington, D.C., where she will visit Fort Dupont Creek site, the site of an America the Beautiful Challenge grant project that received funding in 2023. The project, executed by the D.C. Department of Energy and Environment in partnership with the Department of the Interior’s National Park Service, received $2.5 million to restore 18,600 feet of stream, and seven acres of wetlands that will help achieve District water quality standards for the Anacostia River watershed, an important sub watershed of the Chesapeake Bay, and to plant over 100,000 native plants in this urban watershed. 

“The America the Beautiful Challenge is supporting locally led conservation and restoration projects in communities across the country thanks to historic investments from President Biden’s Investing in America agenda,” said White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Brenda Mallory. “The Fort Dupont Creek project is one of dozens of community-led efforts helping advance the President’s ongoing commitment to conserve our lands and waters. For the third year, communities are encouraged to submit proposals for projects that will help ensure everyone can access the benefits nature has to offer for years to come.”  

America the Beautiful Challenge grants support projects that conserve, restore and connect wildlife habitats and ecosystems while improving community resilience and access to nature, which also advance President Biden’s ambitious environmental justice goals. The White House launched the Challenge in 2022 as a partnership with the Departments of the Interior, Agriculture, and Defense, and Native Americans in Philanthropy and is administered by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.  

“At USDA, we specialize in not only managing the lands in our care, but working across boundaries, jurisdictions and ownerships to steward the entire landscape,” said Dr. Homer Wilkes, U.S. Department of Agriculture under secretary for natural resources and environment. “Working alongside Tribes and our many partners, and with historic resources from President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, we are making our country’s lands healthier and more resilient, while safeguarding the communities that depend on them for subsistence uses, cultural resources, recreation, clean air and water, jobs and more.”   

“The Department of Defense (DOD) is pleased to continue expanding local capacity and advancing on-the-ground outcomes in partnership with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the Department of the Interior, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and Native Americans in Philanthropy through this year’s America the Beautiful Challenge,” said Brendan Owens, Department of Defense Assistant Secretary of Defense, Energy, Installations, and Environment. “The 2024 America the Beautiful Challenge presents a unique opportunity for DOD and conservation partners to restore vital natural landscapes outside our installations and ranges. This year’s America the Beautiful Challenge will directly contribute to DOD’s strategic priorities, including the new Resilient and Healthy Defense Communities Strategy, by building strong external partnerships, establishing nature-based solutions, and improving access to outdoor recreation opportunities." 

In its second year, the program awarded 74 grants totaling $141.3 million, leveraging an additional $12.1 million in grantee match for a total conservation investment of $153.4 million. More than 40 percent of projects that received funding were for those being implemented by Indigenous communities. The 2023 grants and summaries can be found here 

America the Beautiful Challenge grant pre-proposals are due April 4, 2024, and the full RFP can be found on NFWF’s Request for Proposals webpage. Awards are expected to be announced in November 2024. Proposals are reviewed by a public-private committee of partners and technical experts, and funding decisions are based on the extent to which they meet the criteria listed in the RFP. 

Additional information about the program can be found on NFWF’s America the Beautiful Challenge webpage.  


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