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Steps for Successful Project Development:



Step 1

Develop an overall project goal.

  • What issue would you like to address?
  • What would you like your project to accomplish?
  • How will your project benefit the environment and community?


Step 2

Look for potential partners in your area with compatible goals and alignment with the project idea.

  • Define roles and responsibilities.
  • Do they have specific expertise, contacts in the community, volunteer help, office space, outreach, other in-kind contributions?
  • What are their needs?
  • How will you communicate and agree on issues? Clarity at this stage will reduce problems later. 
  • Establish agreements (e.g. memoranda of understanding, letters of support, etc.) to formalize partnerships.


Step 3

Work together to develop SMART objectives:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound

Choose objectives that you and your partners can manage with the time and resources available.



Step 4

Brainstorm and select a site/area.

  • Think about factors such as support by the community, residents, and others.
  • What else is happening in the area that could support the project?
  • What is occurring on the nearby shoreline that could enhance or diminish the project?
  • Consider whether project is scalable. For example, what the likely effects of sea level rise and climate change would be on the site, etc.

Outreach & Engagement

Step 5

Do outreach to educate and engage local and/or regional stakeholders, regulators and the community.

  • Conduct outreach to educate and engage local and/or regional stakeholders, regulators, and the community. This will help you finalize your plan. It may also improve your chances of obtaining funding, as many funders like to see a broad base of stakeholders, and confirm that you understand the permitting requirements.


Step 6

Draft the project proposal/plan, including budget and timeline.

  • Remember to use your SMART objectives.
  • Based on your SMART objectives, do you need to evaluate (monitor) the site before and after the work?
  • Do you need to plan for monitoring or adaptive management?
  • This will help with stakeholder engagement and developing proposals if you need to seek outside funding. 




Step 7

Identify potential funding sources.



Step 8

There are several likely kinds of permission you will need, depending on your chosen project. 

  • In all cases, you need permission to access the property and perform the work–even on public land.
  • If the chosen technique includes changing land elevation, you may need to work with a civil engineer or surveyor to prepare designs for federal, state, and/or local wetland permits.
  • See more about Water Quality Project Permitting.

On the Ground

Step 9

Develop a detailed schedule and logistics for your work, including any monitoring or adaptive management.

  • Consider seasonal impacts, availability of volunteers, etc.
  • Do baseline monitoring and prepare site for restoration.
  • Do restoration project.
  • Do follow-up monitoring, maintenance, and adaptive management.
  • A safety plan is also advisable when working in wetlands, with sharp tools, on hot days, or with harmful chemicals.

You are ready to begin! 


Wrap Up

Step 10

Share pictures and outcomes with your partners and supporters.  If you received outside funding, you will owe reports to your funders.  Enjoy your success!

Be prepared to comply with grant reporting requirements.


Restoration projects may need a range of expertise and resources.You may find expertise through local non-governmental organizations working on the issue, government agencies (local, state or federal), local businesses, or others.

Resource Links:

GreenScaping: The Easy Way to a Greener, Healthier Yard, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Rain Garden Handbook for Western Washington, Washington State Department of Ecology

Rain Gardens for RainScapes Technical Design Manual, Montgomery County RainScapes

Watershed Stewards Academy Rain Garden Manual

Trees Are Good has information on the benefits of trees and how to properly care for trees in the urban environment. 

  • Water quality project design
  • Hydrology
  • Hydraulic engineering
  • Erosion control, stabilization, sedimentation
  • Water quality permitting
  • Ecology: estuarine, marine, shoreline, wetland
  • Flood hazard analysis
  • Geomorphology
  • Monitoring
  • Wetland mapping
  • Volunteer recruitment and management
  • Grant writing and reporting
  • Budget development


Water Quality Project Resources:

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