Pre-proposal Due Date: Tuesday, November 13th, 2012 (midnight CST)
The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), in partnership with Southern Company, the Department of Defense (DoD), the USDA Forest Service (FS), the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), and the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), invites your submission of a pre-proposal to the Longleaf Stewardship Fund (LSF) to help accelerate the restoration and enhancement of the longleaf pine ecosystem, a nationally treasured landscape of cultural, ecological and economic importance.
It is anticipated that approximately $2.5 -$3.5 million will be available for grant awards under the Longleaf Stewardship Fund. Grant awards will range from $50,000 to $350,000, depending on the category for which the applicant is requesting funds and the overall scale of the project. Awards are anticipated to be announced in June 2013.
NFWF will host two information sessions/workshops for prospective applicants. The first will be a webinar on October 18, 2012. Details on registering for the webinar can be found on the NFWF’s website. The second workshop will be held on October 24, 2012 at the Longleaf Alliance Conference in Nacogdoches, TX. Information on the grants previously awarded through the Fund and general information on longleaf restoration strategies and goals can also be found at www.nfwf.org/longleaf. A recording of the webinar will also be posted online. Interested applicants are encouraged to contact Suzanne Sessine at email@example.com, or David O’Neill at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss project ideas.
The historical longleaf range in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas (link to map). State, local, and private lands are eligible across all states. Currently, work on federal lands is eligible only within the Southern Company operating area within Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and the Florida Panhandle (west of the Apalachicola River) (see map). These projects must be part of projects where state, local, and/or private lands are also included.
CONSERVATION GOALS AND OBJECTIVES
The Longleaf Stewardship Fund supports accelerated restoration of the longleaf pine ecosystem through collaborative and result-oriented actions that contribute to the restoration goals in the Range-Wide Conservation Plan for Longleaf Pine (include link: www.americaslongleaf.net/resources/the-conservation-plan), as part of the America's Longleaf Restoration Initiative (the Initiative).
Specifically, the Longleaf Stewardship Fund seeks to achieve the following conservation goals this grant round:
Restore 11,000 to 16,000 acres of longleaf pine, approximately 10 percent of the Initiative’s annual goals for restoration;
Burn (maintain or enhance) 125,000 to 165,000 acres of longleaf pine on public or private lands, approximately 10 percent of the Initiative’s annual goals for burning;
Increase populations of the Bachman’s sparrow, bobwhite quail, red-cockaded woodpecker, and gopher tortoise, which are keystone or umbrella species of the longleaf ecosystem; and
Involve more than 300 private landowners in longleaf stewardship practices that contribute to the restoration, enhancement and wildlife objectives described above.
All proposals must specifically address how projects for which funds are requested will directly and measurably contribute to the accomplishment of the restoration, enhancement and species goals outlined above.
Longleaf Stewardship Fund Grants will be awarded in two categories:
Range-wide Strategic Restoration Grants (Range-wide)
Grants ranging from $50,000 to $150,000 will be awarded for on-the-ground restoration projects across the historical longleaf range. The purpose of these grants is to invest in a variety of longleaf restoration activities, particularly reforestation and forest and habitat enhancement practices, and technical assistance and outreach to private landowners that result in measurable improvements to forest health, wildlife habitat and targeted species populations, and advance longleaf pine ecosystem conservation goals across the historical longleaf range.
Place-based Demonstration Project Grants (Place-based)
Grants ranging from $150,000 to $350,000 will be awarded for projects focused on large-scale restoration of landscapes within areas designated as “significant geographic areas” (SGAs) or “significant sites” in the Range-Wide Conservation Plan for Longleaf Pine and that are anchored by DoD Military Installations/Bases, National Forests and FWS Refuges, as well as state and other protected lands.
The purpose of this category is to provide funds that advance local longleaf pine restoration and protection objectives in SGAs or significant sites. Ideally, funds requested in this category will directly support conservation goals and strategies that have been embraced by relevant stakeholders in those regions and that advance the goals and missions of our federal and private funding partners. Grant funds will support the following strategies: on-the-ground forest restoration, forest and habitat management and enhancement, technical assistance and outreach to private landowners, and targeted capacity-building for planning and coordination. To promote coordination and to distribute limited funding across several SGAs or significant sites, only one application should be submitted for any one SGA or significant site.
NOTE: For SGAs or sites that include military bases or installations, applications must demonstrate how longleaf projects proposed will support DoD’s mission objectives by:
Protecting, sustaining, or enhancing range and installation missions, and facilitating their continuing capabilities for military test, training and operations through longleaf restoration and enhancement of areas buffering a base or installation; and/or
Conserving important natural resources that will enhance mission operations. Importance may be determined in terms of ecosystem function, regulatory status, and relationship to military mission objectives. Lands closer to military operations are generally preferred, but lands further from military operations will be considered on the merits of the effect, including, but not limited to, scale and evidence that regulators (such as U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for Endangered Species issues) indicate that the proposed action will lead to regulatory certainty.
The Longleaf Stewardship Fund seeks Range-wide and Place-based projects implementing the following strategies:
Establishing Longleaf Pine (Range-wide or Place-based projects): Planting longleaf pine through reforestation actions that helps achieve the LSF goal of 11,000 to 16,000 acres restored and contributes to the Initiative’s overall goal of doubling the acres of longleaf pine to 8 million over 15 years. The partners anticipate allocating roughly 25 percent of this year’s funding for forest establishment practices.
Enhancing and Maintaining Existing Longleaf Pine (Range-wide or Place-based projects): Maintaining existing longleaf pine ecosystems using a variety of methods, with specific interest in the following:
Prescribed Fire and Fire Maintenance: Maintaining, expanding, and promoting the appropriate frequency of prescribed fire across the longleaf landscape to achieve the LSF burning goal of 125,000 to 165,000 acres annually, and that contribute to the overall burning goal of the Initiative. The partners anticipate awarding roughly 25 percent of this year’s grant funding to support the following prescribed fire strategies:
Prescribed fire teams or other like strategies that promote coordination and collaboration across organizations and agencies to create efficiencies and expand the capacity to grow the number of acres under prescribed fire on an annual basis;
Prescribed fire training and technical assistance;
Providing additional landowner incentives to increase the number of prescribed fire acres on private lands;
Identifying and addressing specific barriers or roadblocks (i.e., insurance, liability, community issues, etc.) to fire introduction that may exist in a specific geography.
Understory Restoration and Maintenance: Where prescribed burning alone is not sufficient, restoring and maintaining longleaf pine understory using proven and appropriate restoration techniques such as thinning, invasive species control, and planting native species. The partners anticipate allocating roughly 10 percent of its grant funding to support this strategy.
Expanding and Coordinating Technical Assistance and Outreach (Range-wide or Place-based projects): Contact and inform more than 2,000 private landowners about longleaf pine restoration opportunities and, of that group, engage at least 300 landowners in on-the-ground longleaf pine stewardship practices that contribute to the conservation objectives of this program. Applications must provide the projected number of acres of longleaf pine restored or enhanced that will result from the technical assistance and outreach activities proposed. The partners anticipate awarding roughly 30 percent of this year’s grant funding to support the following technical assistance (TA) and outreach strategies:
Coordination: Support programs that increase the coordination and delivery of technical assistance for longleaf pine recovery efforts. Projects that address TA gaps and/or complement and enhance existing efforts to integrate, coordinate, and improve the delivery of technical assistance, planning, signup, on-the-ground work, and monitoring in the private landowner process will be considered. Projects must demonstrate how the coordination of TA will result in more longleaf conservation on private lands. If occurring within an SGA, proposed activities should address strategic priorities defined by relevant stakeholders and local implementation teams.
Increasing “boots on-the-ground:” Support additional landowner technical assistance providers to expand on-the-ground restoration and protection activities on private lands. Applications should describe existing technical assistance capacity within the geographic area of focus and communicate how additional capacity will be coordinated with existing providers and targeted to achieve conservation outcomes. Furthermore, applications should demonstrate how new “boots on-the-ground” will be aligned with other supporting (TA) tools, including access to cost-share programs.
Advancing new market-based incentive programs: Support will be provided for innovative, market-based solutions and incentive programs that: stimulate landowner participation in longleaf recovery efforts; expand contract periods to promote the sustainability of longleaf restoration activities; and/or, enhance the restoration and maintenance activities on the land to promote the achievement of longleaf pine ideal habitat conditions. These programs could include coupling new incentive payments funded through LSF with existing cost-share programs; providing smaller incentives in cases where cost-share programs are oversubscribed and landowners are willing to accept smaller payments; or other measures.
As part of projects implementing the above strategies, and in order to achieve the LSF conservation goals, the LSF will also consider projects that integrate necessary species strategies to support red-cockaded woodpecker and gopher tortoise recovery, and also build the organizational capacity of organizations and partnerships that are dedicated to restoring the longleaf pine ecosystem:
Accelerating Species Recovery (Range-wide or Place-based projects): Implementing translocation and other associated strategies, as part of a larger project focused on longleaf habitat restoration or enhancement, to support recovery of red-cockaded woodpecker and gopher tortoise populations that may not respond as quickly to improved habitat conditions alone due to insufficient source populations, etc.
o Building and Improving Organizational Capacity (Place-based projects only): Strengthen the capacity of local implementation teams and other partnerships to establish, advance and/or lead a local longleaf pine ecosystem restoration strategy and accomplish conservation goals in areas designated as “significant geographic areas” (SGAs) or “significant sites.” Applications should articulate how capacity investments will lead to measurable conservation outcomes. LSF proposals for capacity building should be part of a larger project scope that includes the other strategies defined above. The partners anticipate allocating roughly 10 percent of its grant funding to support this strategy, and the following components may be integrated as part of a larger project that includes direct restoration or enhancement activities:
§ Planning: Contribute to the development of a conservation plan for an SGA that defines large-scale longleaf restoration and enhancement goals and expected conservation outcomes; defines strategic actions and target locations; lists near-term implementation actions (1 to 3 years) and the costs of implementation; and, describes the methods for monitoring and evaluating progress.
§ Coordination: Support a Coordinator position to provide overall coordination of SGA partners, priorities and activities, and accelerate achievement of longleaf restoration and maintenance goals for the SGA. All requests to support a Coordinator should include a clear work plan that outlines how the Coordinator will monitor and track progress of SGA activities and achievement of milestones and goals.
*Note: Land acquisition is not a priority of the program. However, in rare cases land acquisition requests will be considered when the land is a significant priority target for longleaf restoration efforts and where grant funds can be substantially leveraged with other public and private resources.
CRITERIA FOR COMPETITIVE APPLICATIONS
Applications will be reviewed and evaluated based on the extent to which they meet the following criteria:
Conservation Outcomes: Demonstrate how project activities contribute to the overall Longleaf Stewardship Fund acreage and species goals. Those that make the strongest and most deliberate link will be more competitive. All applications must include specific quantitative performance metrics that will be tracked and measured to evaluate the success of the project.
Funding Need: Establish a clear need for the funds being requested, and demonstrate that activities would not move forward absent funding from the Longleaf Stewardship Fund.
Conservation Plan and Context: Describe how the project fits into and advances an existing conservation plan or strategy that benefits the longleaf pine ecosystem. Pre-proposals should also highlight how these efforts will expand on new or existing restoration and conservation initiatives to maximize large-scale ecosystem function.
Critical Species Benefits: In addition to meeting key habitat needs for Bachman’s sparrow, bobwhite quail, red-cockaded woodpecker, and gopher tortoise; describe any significant benefits to other critical species, referencing any species recovery plans or other conservation plans outlining species goals as appropriate.
Partnerships: Demonstrate that an appropriate partnership exists or is being developed to successfully implement the project. The partnership should include stakeholders who can help successfully complete and maintain the project. For place-based projects, this should include appropriate federal, state, local, and private partners.
Cost-effectiveness: Present a clear and cost-effective budget. Preference will be given to those projects that can leverage funds from a broad range of sources to meet or exceed the minimum 1:1 non-federal match requirement, and promote innovative and cost-effective approaches.
Technical Merit: Demonstrate that the project is/will formally engage appropriate technical expertise and assistance throughout project planning, design and implementation to ensure projects are technically-sound and feasible. We recommend that applications be shared with the appropriate state forester and NRCS state conservationist for input and guidance before submission (View NRCS state conservationist and state forestry contacts).
Monitoring: Provide a plan for monitoring progress during and after the proposed project period to track project success and address new challenges and opportunities as they arise. Applicants should budget time and resources to complete this task during the project period if not already covered through existing responsibilities.
Long-term Sustainability: Describe how the project will be maintained to ensure longleaf ecosystem benefits are achieved and sustained over time. This should include how future funding will be secured to implement necessary long-term monitoring and maintenance activities.
Past Success: Demonstrate a proven track record of applicant and partnership success in implementing longleaf conservation practices with specific, measurable results.
Dissemination and Transferability: Showcase new and refine existing restoration methods and techniques to other land managers and landowners, and demonstrate a clear strategy for expanding the collective knowledge of cost-effective, sustainable longleaf restoration strategies.
Ancillary Benefits: Describe any ancillary benefits that may result from the project, (e.g., supports new ecosystem markets; creates a replicable model for landowners; establishes methods that can be shared with other practitioners; creates new partnerships; etc.).
Eligible applicants include: non-profit 501(c) organizations; state, tribal, and local governments; and academic institutions.
Projects must have a match of at least 1:1 non-federal cash or in-kind, but larger match ratios and matching fund contributions from a diversity of partners are encouraged and will be more competitive* (for more information on NFWF’s match policy, click here);
*Note that landowner contributions being used as match for a Longleaf Stewardship Fund grant must be outside of the amount already written into any NRCS contract as a cost-share contribution.
Projects must direct the majority of grant funding toward on-the-ground longleaf pine habitat restoration/enhancement.
Grantees may only use grant funds for indirect costs if the grantee organization has a federally-approved indirect rate AND, indirect costs do not exceed 15 percent of the total grant request (even when the federally-approved rate is greater than 15 percent).
Applicants must highlight how the proposed project is being coordinated with applicable NRCS State Conservationist and State Forestry offices (View NRCS state conservationist and state forestry contacts).
For applicants invited to submit full proposals, letters of support must be submitted by the appropriate NRCS State Conservationist and State Forestry office. Letters of support from the appropriate military installation/base Commander or their designee that addresses the project benefits to the military mission are required for place-based projects involving or benefitting a local military installation or base. Letters documenting the support/contributions of all other project partners are strongly encouraged at the full proposal stage.
Grant awards may support projects with a project period of up to two years; however, significant project deliverables and outcomes are expected to be achieved in year one.
All applicants with active grants from NFWF must be in good standing in terms of reporting requirements and describe in the pre-proposal progress to date on any current LSF grants.
If applicable, successful applicants will be required to provide sufficient documentation that the project expects to receive or has received all necessary permits and clearances to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), Endangered Species Act (ESA), and any other Federal, state or local ordinances.
INELIGIBLE USE OF GRANT FUNDS
Funds granted under this program may not be used to support political advocacy, lobbying or litigation.
Grantees may not use grant funds to support ongoing efforts to comply with legal requirements (e.g., permit conditions, mitigation, settlement agreements) of any local, state or federal permit. However, grant funds may be used to support projects that enhance or improve upon existing baseline compliance efforts.
Please visit the following links to learn about carbon sequestration and communications requirements for projects funded in Southern Company operating areas:
Carbon sequestration policy
Grantee Communications Guidance
HOW TO APPLY
1. Go to www.nfwf.org/easygrants. If you are a new Easygrants user, please register. If you are already a registered user, use your existing login.
2. Select “Longleaf Stewardship Fund 2013” from the “Funding Opportunity” list.
3. Follow the instructions and refer to the Longleaf Stewardship Fund Easygrants Cheat Sheet, which may be downloaded at www.nfwf.org/longleaf to complete your application. Once you get started, you may save your application in progress and return another time to complete and submit it.
All pre-proposals must be submitted to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation via Easygrants by midnight (CST) on November 13, 2012, for consideration.
The anticipated timeline for this grant round is as follows:
November 13th, 2012: Pre-proposals due
February 21st, 2013: Invited Full proposals due
June 2013: Grants announced
For questions about funding priorities and projects, please contact Suzanne Sessine (email@example.com) or David O’Neill (firstname.lastname@example.org).