Central Appalachia Habitat Stewardship Program 2018 Request for Proposals

Full Proposal Due Date:   Thursday, July 12, 2018 at 10:00-12:00 PM, EDT
​​​Applicant Webinar: Wednesday, June 20, 2018 at 1:00-2:30 PM, EDT

OVERVIEW

The Central Appalachia Habitat Stewardship Program will award grants to restore and sustain healthy forests, wetlands, rivers and streams that provide habitat for diverse native bird and freshwater fish populations. Approximately $2 million is available this year. Major funding is provided by the Richard King Mellon Foundation, U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the American Forest Foundation and Shell Oil Company.

The goals of the program are to:

  • ​Improve the management of public and private (particularly family and individually-owned) forestlands to enhance age and structural diversity of forests in the region. Restoration of a mosaic of forest seral stages will provide habitat conditions supporting a diversity of bird species including young forest dependent species (i.e. American woodcock, golden-winged warbler and prairie warbler), and complex mature and late successional forest associated species (i.e. cerulean warbler, black-throated blue warbler and wood thrush)
  • Improve the quality of habitat in river and stream systems especially for eastern brook trout, eastern hellbender, threatened and endangered freshwater mussels and their host species, including: restoring fish passage and improving access to high quality upstream habitat; restoring stream and floodplain function; and reducing polluted runoff from developed and agricultural lands.
  • Restore the integrity and complexity of riparian forests that provide important edge habitat and wildlife corridors, and also are essential to protecting the quality of freshwater systems, especially targeting habitat for Louisiana waterthrush and eastern brook trout.

Applicants are encouraged to deploy a range of strategies to engage public and private landowners in active stewardship through technical and financial assistance, demonstrations, education and outreach and other innovative approaches.

GEOGRAPHIC FOCUS

The Central Appalachia Habitat Stewardship Program will award grants in the Appalachian region of New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Maryland, West Virginia and Virginia. Within this region there are three distinct targeted geographies, as detailed below. View map online at http://arcg.is/a01Lr.
Central Apps 2018 RFP Map 
 
  • Applicants are encouraged to concentrate habitat restoration activities within one or more of eleven Focal Geographies in western Pennsylvania. These geographies have been identified in partnership with the Richard King Mellon Foundation as places where targeted investments have the potential to reduce multiple threats to high quality forest and freshwater habitat. The focal geographies include Shenango, French Creek, Upper Allegheny, Mid and Lower Allegheny, Laurel Highlands, Dunkard Creek, Conemaugh and Clearfield Headwaters, Upper Juniata River, Bald Eagle to Penn Valley, Moshannon, and Triple Divide. For more information on the focal geographies, visit http://web.tplgis.org/NFWF_PA/
  • Projects that involve the stewardship of family-owned woodlands are encouraged to target efforts in one or more of the following thirteen watersheds: the Upper Susquehanna, Upper Allegheny, Sinnemahoning, Bald Eagle, Upper Juniata, Lower Juniata, Lower Susquehanna-Swatara, Youghiogheny, Upper James, North Branch Potomac, Cacapon-Town, South Branch Potomac and Greenbrier watersheds. The American Forest Foundation has identified these watersheds as the best opportunities to work with family woodland owners to protect and improve wildlife habitats. For more information refer to AFF’s report Hidden in Plain Sight.
  • Projects to establish golden-winged warbler habitat on working forests and farmland are encouraged to target technical assistance and implementation within the Golden-winged Warbler Project Area and especially within the Priority Areas for Conservation depicted in Figure 4 of the WLFW-GWWA Conservation Strategy designated by the Natural Resources Conservation Service Working Lands for Wildlife Program.

PROGRAM PRIORITIES

Priority will be given to projects that address at least one of the following strategies:
  1. ​Forest Conservation, Connectivity and Management
    Improve management of forest blocks for age and structural diversity to demonstrate improved forest conditions for birds and other wildlife (esp. golden-winged and prairie warbler, American woodcock, black-throated blue warbler, wood thrush and cerulean warbler). 

    • ​Assessment/Planning: Provide forest management decision support tools that encourage landscape level planning to manage for an appropriate mix of age and structural diversity that also is adaptable to meeting the needs and interests of public and private landowners at the parcel and forest block scale.

    • Forest Block Demonstrations: Implement forest management demonstration projects that use a range of forest management practices and prescriptions to create a diversity of age and structure across contiguous forest blocks of at least 2,500 acres. Projects that engage landowners with a range of property sizes and interests are strongly encouraged. Project success should be measured by occupancy of target species.

    • Outreach and Technical Assistance: Execute innovative outreach and marketing strategies to engage target audiences, especially family woodland owners and consulting foresters, in adopting forest management practices that enhance habitat conditions. Proposals conducting landowner outreach should clearly describe how willing landowners will be managed, and by whom, in order to ensure they receive ongoing support for project implementation/construction and transition to on-the-ground implementation, where applicable.

    • Young Forest Habitat:  Create and enhance young forest habitat as part of a landscape effort to restore forest health, age and structural diversity across the region. This work should target management prescriptions for forest stands on public and private lands that lack structural diversity for species including golden-winged warbler and prairie warbler, and American woodcock that utilize young forest habitat during critical stages of their life cycle. Note: All NRCS-contributed funds under this RFP will support on-the-ground projects that create young forest habitat on private lands.You can download the Working Lands for Wildlife 2017-2021 Golden-Winged Warbler Conservation Strategy here.

    • Mature and Late Successional Forest Habitat: Demonstrate forest management strategies and practices that enhance age and structural diversity for mature and late successional forest habitats, and maximize habitat quality for target species, such as cerulean and black-throated blue warbler, and wood thrush. This may include prescriptions to manage understory, canopy or create gaps within mature stands. Demonstration projects should include plans for conveying lessons learned to foresters and conservation professionals throughout the region.

      All forest management should assess and implement recommendations based on the landscape scale context and goals. Projects also should include strategies for transferring lessons learned to consulting foresters, forest landowners and other forest management professionals throughout the region. Projects are encouraged to use signage and other creative outreach and marketing methods to raise community awareness and support for the project’s goals and objectives.

  2. Healthy River Systems
    Restore water quality and aquatic connectivity to enhance the long term persistence of native species including eastern brook trout, eastern hellbender and threatened and endangered freshwater mussel communities. Projects should target restoration between and within allopatric eastern brook trout populations, in proximity to known eastern hellbender habitat, and to benefit threatened and endangered freshwater mussel communities and their host species.

    • ​Restore Aquatic Connectivity:  Identify, assess, prioritize and remove barriers to fish passage. Replace culverts and remove under-utilized dams that result in artificial impoundment and stream warming, restore wetland complexes. Project funds can support on-the-ground restoration, engineering testing and design, permit fees, and stream barrier surveys to determine priorities for future connectivity restoration. Projects are encouraged to demonstrate the benefits of aquatic connectivity projects to human communities through reduced flooding and other infrastructure failures. The Aquatic Barrier Prioritization Tool http://maps.freshwaternetwork.org/northeast/ is a useful resource in planning projects.

    • Restore Riparian Forests:  Reforest riparian buffers within floodplains. Reforested buffers ideally should range between 50 feet and 100 feet wide and be planted with 200 – 250 native tree and shrub seedlings per acre and be protected from deer browse and competition from invasive species. Projects should include long-term maintenance strategies for new buffers (4-10 year establishment period) by addressing issues including deer browsing, invasive species and competitive vegetation management, and mortality. Include control of Japanese knotweed, reed canary-grass, purple loosestrife, and other invasive plant species in riparian restoration projects.

    • Reduce Polluted Runoff from Agricultural Lands: Provide technical and financial assistance to address all conservation concerns on farms that have the greatest potential to improve water quality and aquatic habitat for target species. Projects should implement BMPs that meet or exceed the performance of related federal and state-approved methods and specifications, unless flexibility is necessary to demonstrate an innovative approach or technology. Outreach should target farms that have conservation, manure management, and/or nutrient management plans in place, as appropriate. Where these plans are not in place, projects should prioritize developing plans prior to implementing BMPs.

    • Reduce Polluted Runoff from Developed Lands: Implement green stormwater infrastructure demonstration projects in high priority and visible locations and that increase  stormwater storage capacity and decrease polluted runoff associated with storm events. These projects should support training for land managers, local governments, the land development community, and other target audiences.

    • Reduce Erosion and Sedimentation from Dirt and Gravel Roads: Conduct dirt and gravel roads assessments for existing roads in partnership with  county conservation districts and municipalities, the NAACC, and especially with Pennsylvania's Dirt, Gravel, and Low Volume Road Maintenance Program. Projects should focus on road crossings where a reduction in sediment delivery to streams is possible and for road crossings that are in high priority habitat areas for eastern brook trout and eastern hellbender. Proposals in Pennsylvania should focus on publically accessible roads in order to leverage funding from the Pennsylvania's Dirt Gravel, and Low Volume Road Maintenance Program when possible.

PROJECT METRICS

To better gauge progress on individual grants and to ensure greater consistency of project data provided by multiple grants, the Central Appalachia Habitat Stewardship Program has a list of metrics in Easygrants for applicants to choose from for future reporting. We ask that applicants select only the most relevant metrics from this list for their project (all possible program metrics are shown in the table below).  If you think an applicable metric has not been provided, please contact John Wright to discuss acceptable alternatives.

   
Project ​Activity ​ Recommended ​Metric  Additional Guidance​
Culvert replacement, dam removal and other fish passage projects​ ​
​Number of passage barriers rectified ​Enter the number of fish passage barriers rectified. In the NOTES section, indicate what type of barrier(s) are being removed and/or installed (e.g. dam, culvert, bridge etc.) and the target species
​Miles of stream opened ​Enter the number of miles of stream opened
​Wetland restoration  ​Acres restored  ​Enter the total number of wetland acres restored. In NOTES, indicate if at-risk or ESA listed bog, spotted, wood, or Blanding’s turtle benefits occurred.
​Stream restoration ​Miles restored ​Enter the total number of miles of stream restored. In the NOTES section, indicate the types of changes to stream channel (e.g., adding large woody debris, grading stream banks, adding toe wood, recontouring stream channel using natural channel design)
​Forest management activities ​Acres under improved management  ​Enter the number of acres under improved management. In the NOTES section, list the conservation practices employed on the acres claimed. Indicate the type of forest habitat and target species (e.g., early successional for golden-winged warbler, late successional for cerulean warbler)
​Riparian forest restoration  ​Miles restored ​Enter total number of riparian forest miles restored. In the NOTES section, indicate the width of the forested buffer (e.g., 50’, 100’)
​Installation of livestock exclusion fencing ​Miles of fencing installed ​Enter the number of miles of fencing installed. In the NOTES section, indicate the buffer width (e.g. 50', 100')
​Road improvement BMPs    ​Miles of road improved ​Indicate the number of miles improved by installing BMPs that reduce erosion
​Practices to reduce nutrient and sediment runoff  ​

​Acres with BMPs

 

​​
​Enter the number of acres with Best Management Practices (BMPs). In the NOTES section, indicate the type of BMP(s) (e.g., continuous non-till, enhanced nutrient management, rain garden/bioretention)
​Lbs sediment avoided (annually) ​​Enter the pounds of sediment prevented from entering the system annually
​Conservation easement(s)

​Acres protected

 

 

​Enter the number of acres protected under long-term easement (permanent or >30-yr). In the NOTES section, indicate the type of habitat(s) protected
​Miles protected ​Enter the number of miles protected under long-term easement (permanent or >30-yr). In NOTES section, indicate the type of habitat(s) protected
​Outreach to targeted audiences ​ ​Number of people targeted ​Enter the total number of people targeted by outreach, training or technical assistance activities. Use the NOTES field to specify the percentage of individuals targeted by each of these activities
​Number of  people reached ​Enter the number of people who responded to an offer and inquiry delivered by outreach, marketing, training, or technical assistance activities. Use the NOTES section to specify the percentage of individuals who responded to each of these activities
​Behavior change programs and campaigns ​ ​Number of landowners receiving land management recommendations from a professional ​Enter number of landowners who demonstrated changed behavior by applying land management recommendations from a professional. Use the NOTES section to specify whether the individual is a family forest landowner or an industrial forest landowner. ​
​Number of people with changed behavior
​Engaging volunteers in restoration activities ​Number of volunteers participating ​Enter the number of volunteers participating in habitat restoration activities
​Monitoring ​Acres being monitored ​Enter the total number of acres being monitored. In the NOTES section, indicate the species and habitat being monitored
​Habitat assessments and prioritizations  ​Number of acres assessed ​Enter the number of acres assessed or prioritized for improved management. In the NOTES section, list target species(s)

ELIGIBILITY

​Eligible and Ineligible Entities

  • Eligible applicants include non-profit 501(c) organizations, state government agencies, local governments, municipal governments, Indian tribes and educational institutions. 
  • Ineligible applicants include U.S. Federal government agencies, businesses, unincorporated individuals, and international organizations
​Ineligible Uses of Grant Funds 

  • ​​NFWF funds and matching contributions may not be used to support political advocacy, fundraising, lobbying, litigation, terrorist activities or Foreign Corrupt Practices Act violations.
  • NFWF funds may not be used to support ongoing efforts to comply with legal requirements, including permit conditions, mitigation and settlement agreements. However, grant funds may be used to support projects that enhance or improve upon existing baseline compliance efforts.

FUNDING AVAILABILITY AND MATCH

The Central Appalachia Habitat Stewardship Program will award approximately $2 million in grants this year. Of the total, a portion of funding is dedicated solely to projects in Pennsylvania. Grants will range from $50,000 to $200,000 each. Projects should begin within six months of the award date and be completed within two to three years of the agreed start date. These grants require non-federal matching contributions valued at 50% of the total project costs (1:1 ratio).

EVALUATION CRITERIA

All proposals will be screened for relevance, accuracy, completeness and compliance with NFWF and funding source policies. Proposals will then be evaluated based on the extent to which they meet the following criteria.

Program Goals and Priorities – Project contributes to the Program’s overall habitat and species conservation goals, and has specific, quantifiable performance metrics to evaluate project success. Project addresses one or more of the program priorities.

Technical Merit and Work Plan – Project is technically sound and feasible, and the proposal sets forth a clear, logical and achievable work plan and timeline. Project engages appropriate technical experts throughout project planning, design and implementation to ensure activities are technically-sound and feasible.

Conservation Plan and Context – The project advances an existing conservation plan or strategy.

Monitoring – Project includes a plan for monitoring progress during and after the proposed project period to track project success and adaptively address new challenges and opportunities as they arise.

Long-term Sustainability – Project will be maintained to ensure 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.

Budget – Costs are allowable, reasonable and budgeted in accordance with NFWF’s Budget Instructions cost categories.  Federally-funded projects must be in compliance with OMB Uniform Guidance​ as applicable.

Matching Contributions – Matching contributions consist of cash, contributed goods and services, volunteer hours, and/or property raised (or secured) and spent for the Project during the Period of Performance. Larger match ratios and matching fund contributions from a diversity of partners are encouraged and will be more competitive during application review.

OTHER

Procurement – If the applicant chooses to specifically identify proposed Contractor(s) for Services, an award by NFWF to the applicant does not constitute NFWF’s express written authorization for the applicant to procure such specific services noncompetitively.  When procuring goods and services, the NFWF recipient must use its own documented procurement procedures which reflect applicable laws and regulations. 

Publicity and Acknowledgement of Support – Award recipients will be required to grant NFWF the right and authority to publicize the project and NFWF’s financial support for the grant in press releases, publications and other public communications.  Recipients may also be asked by NFWF to provide high-resolution (minimum 300 dpi) photographs depicting the project.

Receiving Award Funds – Award payments are primarily reimbursable.  Projects may request funds for reimbursement at any time after completing a signed agreement with NFWF.  A request of an advance of funds must be due to an imminent need of expenditure and must detail how the funds will be used and provide justification and a timeline for expected disbursement of these funds.

Compliance Requirements – Projects selected may be subject to requirements under the National Environmental Policy Act, Endangered Species Act (state and federal), and National Historic Preservation Act.  Documentation of compliance with these regulations must be approved prior to initiating activities that disturb or alter habitat or other features of the project site(s).  Applicants should budget time and resources to obtain the needed approvals.  As may be applicable, successful applicants may be required to comply with additional Federal, state or local requirements and obtain all necessary permits and clearances.

Permits – 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 any Federal, state or local requirements.  Where projects involve work in the waters of the United States, NFWF strongly encourages applicants to conduct a permit pre-application meeting with the Army Corps of Engineers prior to submitting their proposal.  In some cases, if a permit pre-application meeting has not been completed, NFWF may require successful applicants to complete such a meeting prior to grant award.

Federal Funding – The availability of federal funds estimated in this solicitation is contingent upon the federal appropriations process. Funding decisions will be made based on level of funding and timing of when it is received by NFWF.

Landowner Outreach – Successful applicants with projects that involve stewardship of family-owned woodlands will be asked to use the Landowner Outreach Database developed by the American Forest Foundation to identify, and track landowner outreach and behavior change. The American Forest Foundation will provide technical assistance in using the database, as well as other technical assistance for proven marketing and communications strategies to improve effectiveness. Please reach out to AFF as soon as possible to help with the development and implementation of projects that engage family landowners (Christine Cadigan: ccadigan@forestfoundation.org).

TIMELINE

Dates of activities are subject to change.  Please check the Central Appalachia Habitat Stewardship Program​ webpage of the NFWF website for the most current dates and information.

​​Applicant Webinar [Register Here]
​June 20, 1:00 - 2:30 pm, EDT
​Full Proposal Due Date 
​ July 12, by 11:59 pm EDT
​Review and Notification Period   
​August - October
Awards Announced ​
​Mid - November


HOW TO APPLY

All application materials must be submitted online through National Fish and Wildlife
Foundation’s Easygrants system.
  1. ​Go to easygrants.nfwf.org​ to register in our Easygrants online system. New users to the system will be prompted to register before starting the application (if you already are a registered user, use your existing login).  Enter your applicant information. Please disable the pop-up blocker on your internet browser prior to beginning the application process.
  2. Once on your homepage, click the “Apply for Funding” button and select this RFP’s “Funding Opportunity” from the list of options.
  3. Follow the instructions in Easygrants to complete your application. Once an application has been started, it may be saved and returned to at a later time for completion and submission.

APPLICATION ASSISTANCE

A PDF version of this RFP can be downloaded here.

A Tip Sheet is available for quick reference while you are working through your application. This document can be downloaded here

Additional information to support the application process can be accessed on the NFWF website’s Applicant Information page.

For more information or questions about this RFP, please contact: 

John Wright
Manager, Northeastern Regional Office, NFWF
john.wright@nfwf.org
(202) 595-2478

Elizabeth Nellums
Manager, Chesapeake Programs, Northeastern Regional Office, NFWF
elizabeth.nellums@nfwf.org
(202) 595-2442 

For projects that involve stewardship of family-owned woodlands, applicants are strongly encouraged to reach out to the American Forest Foundation for assistance in developing project strategy and competitive applications. Please contact:

Christine Cadigan
Director, Northeastern Woodland Conservation, American Forest Foundation
ccadigan@forestfoundation.org

 For issues or assistance with our online Easygrants system, please contact:

Easygrants Helpdesk
Email:  Easygrants@nfwf.org
Voicemail:  202-595-2497
Hours:  9:00 am to 5:00 pm ET, Monday-Friday.
Include:  your name, proposal ID #, e-mail address, phone number, program you are applying to, and a description of the issue.

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