Coastal Watershed Resilience Assessments for Seven U.S. Watersheds Request for Proposals

Full Proposal Due Date: Tuesday November 22, 2016 by 11:59 PM Eastern Time

OVERVIEW

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), in collaboration with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), invites full proposals to develop products to be integrated into Coastal Watershed Resilience Assessments for seven watersheds around the United States. Products to be developed under this RFP include:

  • A geospatial fish and wildlife habitat assessment using available local and regional datasets that, with assistance from NFWF and a technical committee, will be integrated with community risk data and national-level fish and wildlife habitat data being compiled through a concurrent effort to depict resilience need, and
  • ​Identification of potential nature-based projects within each watershed to address the resilience need by protecting communities from severe storms and floods, while enhancing fish and wildlife through restoration or improvement of their associated habitats.

The successful Contractor will be selected through a competitive RFP process. Only one award will be made for this contract. The contract period of performance is targeted for January 3, 2017 – February 28, 2018.

PROGRAM BACKGROUND

For more than 15 years, NFWF has managed conservation programs benefitting marine and coastal ecosystems, with an increasing focus on coastal resilience. In 2013, NFWF entered into a partnership with the Department of the Interior to create a grants program – the Hurricane Sandy Coastal Resiliency Competitive Grants Program – supporting projects that utilize natural systems to mitigate the impacts of future storms, helping to protect Northeast communities impacted by Hurricane Sandy.

In early 2016, in partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and with the involvement of the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), NFWF expanded these early Sandy efforts, beginning with a regional resilience assessment for the Southeast Atlantic Coast. This assessment identified spatial data on (a) threats from floods, coastal storms, and sea-level rise, (b) community assets and populations exposed to these threats, (c) areas critical to threatened and endangered fish and wildlife species and other species of concern, and (d) protected areas greater than 5,000 acres. These data were integrated to identify what we have called “resilience hubs” – areas where natural resource restoration efforts will have the greatest impact for human community resilience while benefitting critical fish and wildlife habitat.

In addition to this regional-scale assessment, NFWF worked with partners to conduct a more in-depth study of the Cape Fear watershed in North Carolina. Through this study, local stakeholders were consulted to gather critical state, local, NGO, and other data on fish and wildlife that is much more detailed and precise than at the regional level. Project opportunities were also identified that could increase resilience of communities and ecosystems within the watershed.

With continued support from NOAA, we are expanding these resilience efforts at both the regional and the coastal watershed scales. At the regional scale, the National Environmental Modeling and Analysis Center (NEMAC) is applying the above model over the next year to identify resilience hubs for the following regions:

  • Northeast Atlantic Coast (May-Dec. 2016)
  • California Coast (April-Oct. 2017)

In this Request for Proposals, we are seeking a Contractor to build on this work by conducting more in-depth analyses at the coastal watershed scale in seven additional watersheds around the United States chosen for their strategic importance in resilience efforts. The seven HUC-8 watersheds are:

NFWF and the technical committee overseeing this project will work with the Contractor throughout the project period to integrate the products of this assessment with the resilience hub analysis being compiled by NEMAC, as they are developed. The goal is to have a more in-depth understanding, grounded in local data, of the need and opportunities for strengthening the ecological integrity and functionality of coastal ecosystems in order to protect human communities and to enhance fish and wildlife and their associated habitats.

In addition, NFWF will provide the selected Contractor with related data, products, and guidance from the Hurricane Sandy Coastal Resiliency Grants Program, the Southeast Atlantic Coast Resilience Assessment, and the Cape Fear Watershed Resilience Assessment.

SCOPE OF WORK

Through this Request for Proposals, NFWF is seeking a qualified Contractor with knowledge of the natural resources and communities within each watershed or who can subcontract to entities with knowledge of each watershed. For each watershed, the selected Contractor should be able to assess areas that are critical to fish, wildlife, and ecosystem health; assist with integrating those data with the regional assessment resilience hub products; and develop a list of feasible nature-based resilience projects (i.e., coastal or riparian habitat protection/restoration, green infrastructure, dam removal, hydrologic modification, living shorelines, etc.), guided by the resilience hubs.

The selected Contractor will work closely with NFWF and federal (including NOAA and USACE), state, and local experts and practitioners to discuss and develop these products. Site visits to key areas and projects identified are anticipated so that the Contractor can examine on-the-ground conditions to help determine which projects, if implemented, would have the greatest impact on community and ecosystem resilience.

The selected party will perform the following activities for each watershed in collaboration with NFWF and the watershed technical committees:

  1. GATHER EXISTING RELEVANT DATA AND PLANS – Gather, review and synthesize relevant federal, state, local government and non-profit natural resource, wildlife, infrastructure management and adaptation plans and datasets (including relevant data specific to NOAA trust species);
  2. CONDUCT STAKEHOLDER MEETINGS – Organize meetings with key conservation entities, government agencies, and community leaders within each watershed to understand key fish and wildlife data and priorities, learn resilience needs at a local level (e.g., municipality), and ultimately identify resilience-related projects.
  3. GIS ANALYSIS FOR FISH AND WILDLIFE – Identify a subset of reports/GIS datasets that best reflect project goals, and conduct a GIS analysis to identify areas that are critical to fish, wildlife, and ecosystem health within the watershed. The terms “fish” and “wildlife” should be interpreted in the broadest sense to include (at a minimum) species of concern (due to their listing as T&E species by federal and/or state authorities or on respected watchlists by these or other third parties), species that are important recreationally and/or culturally, species that are highly localized or that rely on a small area for part of their life history, and keystone species that are of importance for their ecosystem function (e.g., oysters). These areas could include ecosystems and habitat that are intact and functional, or degraded and in need of restoration or rehabilitation.
  4. RESILIENCE PROJECT IDENTIFICATION – Identify nature-based resilience projects (e.g., coastal or riparian habitat protection/restoration, green infrastructure, dam removal, hydrologic modification, living shorelines, etc.) that will improve ecosystem integrity and reduce communities’ vulnerability to severe storms or riverine flooding, and support adaptation to climate and other stressors. These projects will fall into two categories: 1) those that are “shovel-ready,” and 2) projects in a planning phase which will still require funds or time for siting, scoping, design, or working through required permitting processes to become “shovel-ready.” Key factors to highlight include: need for action; project approach/restoration technique; expected benefits to fish, wildlife, and community resilience based on reduction in threats and/or vulnerability; permitting requirements (clearly describing permits already obtained and status of application); timeline, including how soon the project can start; level of collaboration and partnerships including subcontractors that are needed to perform the work; level of risk; projected project costs; and potential leveraging of funds (particularly from local sponsors).

It is anticipated that the watershed assessments will be staggered in time to reasonably manage staff resource and capacity commitments, but completed over the course of one year (Jan. - Dec. 2017), and follow this general timeline:

Jan. 2017 – June 2017: Narragansett Bay, Savannah River, and Charleston Harbor

April 2017 – Oct. 2017: Merrymeeting Bay, Delaware Bay, and St. John’s River

July 2017 – Dec. 2017: San Francisco Bay

The above outlines the general scope of work and timeline to be addressed under this RFP and aligns with the timing of the regional assessments conducted by NEMAC described above. However, the timing is subject to change in response to additional information that emerges over the course of the project period. Therefore, significant collaboration among the selected party, NFWF, federal partners, and NEMAC will be required throughout to ensure that the project best reflects stakeholder needs.

DELIVERABLES

The successful offeror will be expected to produce the following deliverables, in coordination with NFWF, the technical committees, and federal, state and local partners:

For each watershed*:

  1. Detailed presentation of the technical approach and the data for each watershed.
  2. Geospatial map/data in an ESRI ArcMap format of highest priority areas for fish, wildlife, and habitat tagged with attribute information, to include:
    1. Species distribution maps
    2. Distributions of species groups where species-specific information is lacking
    3. Areas of significant biodiversity (high species diversity or of importance to species of conservation concern)
    4. Strongholds for specific species (or areas of particularly high density, intact populations or species assemblages, or concentrations either year-round or seasonal that are of particular importance)
    5. Habitat types
    6. Habitat quality
    7. Natural features important in a climate adaptation context that might be relevant to conservation planning
      Note: The selected Contractor will interact with NEMAC to determine data standards for ensuring compatibility of both regional and watershed GIS products.
  3. A list of resilience projects. Each shovel-ready or near shovel-ready project description should highlight the factors previously outlined in the “Scope of Work” section and the threat or risk it will address for a species, habitat, or community.
  4. Full metadata documentation of methods, data used, sources of data, and any limitations on the data sets.

Draft Report:

  1. A draft report summarizing the process, plans, and documents analyzed; results related to the geospatial data; and next steps. The report should also include the process for project list development, the list of projects, an overview of conservation and resilience needs, and existing on-the-ground resilience programs and projects in the watershed. The Contractor will seek guidance from the technical committee to ensure that the development and dissemination of the report meets the needs and intent of the project stakeholders.

*Coastal Watershed Resilience Assessment deliverables will be due as they are completed for each watershed, based on the tentative timeline above. A more specific timeline for delivery of key products for each watershed should be included as part of the offeror’s proposal. Products will be reviewed by NFWF and the technical committee.

Final Report:

  1. A final comprehensive report that integrates and synthesizes process and results for all seven Coastal Watershed Resilience Assessments.

CRITERIA FOR COMPETITIVE APPLICATIONS

The criteria listed below will be used by NFWF and NOAA to evaluate proposals for ranking purposes based on how fully each proposal meets the requirements of this RFP.

  1. Understanding of the Scope of Work. The proposal must demonstrate a thorough understanding of conservation and community resilience activities and needs within the region, with a preference for specific knowledge and experience in the identified coastal watersheds, including an understanding of the relevant local and regional stakeholders. (20%)
  2. Technical Approach and Timeline. The proposed technical approach for fulfilling the scope of work must demonstrate a process for identifying fish, wildlife, and habitat data sources for each watershed and collecting information on projects that, if implemented, will improve the resilience of the natural landscape and benefit communities, fish, wildlife, and their habitat. This criterion may be fulfilled by, for instance, describing methods for collecting and analyzing fish and wildlife data and resilience projects through reviewing and synthesizing existing reports and conducting meetings, interviews, and/or targeted site visits. The technical approach should outline the probable data sources that will be utilized, a description of how the Contractor will regularly communicate with NFWF, NEMAC, and the technical committee, and a timeline for sharing interim and final project deliverables, including key products per watershed, to NFWF. (20%)
  3. Qualifications of Proposed Personnel. The proposal should describe relevant professional experience in the following areas: (a) Familiarity with coastal resilience and/or fish and wildlife issues and priorities along coastal United States; (b) experience dealing with Federal, state, and local governmental agencies, particularly NOAA and USACE as well as local NGOs involved with resilience and fish and wildlife habitat data collection and project planning, particularly within any of the focal watersheds; (c) experience with geospatial mapping and developing products in ESRI ArcMap; (d) an understanding of the threats, vulnerability, and risk elements needed to evaluate potential projects; (e) biographies including resumes and/or curriculum vitae of key staff who will be involved and their role related to the offeror’s proposed work. (20%)
  4. Contractor’s Past Performance. The proposal should include information on the primary investigator(s)’s past performance in working with agency, academic, and NGO entities on coastal resilience and/or fish and wildlife habitat issues, particularly within any of the focal watersheds, and list recent (reaching back up to 5 years) accomplishments, events and previous services related to the technical expertise offered. If subcontractors are to be used, information should be provided that demonstrates their past performance as well. (20%)
  5. Cost Proposal. The budget should be cost-effective and maximize the value for monies requested in the offeror’s budget. Proposal costs should be appropriate to adequately achieve the stated scope of work. Profit/profit margin must be separately itemized in the budget. Offerors must use the budget template provided here. (20%)

ELIGIBLE OFFERORS

Eligible offerors are individuals, institutions of higher education, nonprofits, commercial organizations, and local, state, and tribal governments.

SELECTION PROCEDURE

NFWF and the technical committee will assess each proposal according to the project description and evaluation criteria provided in this RFP. Offerors may be asked to modify objectives, work plans, or budgets prior to final approval of the award. Only one award will be made for this project. If multiple institutions are involved, they should be handled through sub-awards and sub-contracts.

SUBMISSION REQUIREMENTS

Proposals must be submitted under the same cover at the same time, in three distinct and separate documents: 1) Technical Proposal, 2) Cost Proposal, and 3) Evidence of Financial Stability.

Interested parties should submit proposals electronically to NFWF (Suzanne Sessine: suzanne.sessine@nfwf.org) as a Word document or PDF attachment with the subject line “Proposal Package for Coastal Watershed Resilience Assessments” following the requirements below:

  1. Technical Proposal:
    • Narrative: Concise (10-page limit) description of the work plan to include the following sections from the Criteria for Competitive Applications: Understanding of the Scope of Work, Technical Approach and Timeline using the table format below, general overview of Contractor’s Past Performance, and Contact Information (Primary contact person, address, phone, email, website, and name of organization and Federal ID#, if applicable).
      Coastal Watersheds ​Start Date​ Draft Deliverables Due​ ​Final Project List and Fact Sheets Due​ Final Report Due​
      ​Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island
      ​Savannah River, Georgia and South Carolina
      ​Charleston Harbor, South Carolina
      ​Merrymeeting Bay, Maine
      ​Delaware Bay, New Jersey and Delaware
      ​St. John’s River, Florida
      ​San Francisco Bay, California
    • Qualifications of Proposed Personnel: Resumes and/or Vitae of the principal investigator(s), including any subcontractors, describing relevant professional experience as described in the competitive criteria above. There is no page limit associated with this element of the proposal.
    • Contractor’s Past Performance: Include an example of at least one report or analysis conducting a similar assessment for NFWF or other organizations. There is no page limit associated with this element of the proposal.
  2. Cost Proposal: The Cost Proposal includes the proposal budget and budget justification. It must be submitted using the budget template, available here​.
  3. Evidence of Financial Stability. The offeror shall provide with the RFP response, proof of financial stability in the form of financial statements, credit ratings, a line of credit, or other financial arrangements sufficient to demonstrate the offeror’s capability to meet the requirements of this RFP.

SPECIAL TERMS AND CONDITIONS

  1. Conflicts of Interest
    Offerors must notify NFWF in writing of any apparent or actual conflicts of interest, including organizational conflicts of interest, that are known at the time of this proposal or that may arise during the life of this award, in the event an award is made. Conflicts of interest include any relationship or matter which might place the Contractor, the Contractor’s employees, or the Contractor’s subcontractors in a position of conflict, real or apparent, between their responsibilities under the award and any other outside interests, or otherwise. Con​flicts of interest may also include, but are not limited to, direct or indirect financial interests, close personal relationships, positions of trust in outside organizations, consideration of future employment arrangements with a different organization, or decision-making affecting the award that would cause a reasonable person with knowledge of the relevant facts to question the impartiality of the offeror, the offeror’s employees, or the offeror’s future subcontractors in the matter. Upon receipt of such a notice, the NFWF Contracting Officer will determine if a conflict of interest exists and, if so, if there are any possible actions to be taken by the offeror to reduce or resolve the conflict. Failure to resolve conflicts of interest in a manner that satisfies NFWF may result in the proposal not being selected for award. Any such notice shall be included with the Evidence of Financial Stability submission.
  2. Additional Responsibility Matters
    By submitting a Proposal in response to this solicitation, the offeror warrants and represents that it is eligible for award of a Contract resulting from this solicitation and that it is not subject to any of the below circumstances:
    • Has any unpaid Federal tax liability that has been assessed, for which all judicial and administrative remedies have been exhausted or have lapsed, and that is not being paid in a timely manner pursuant to a Contract with the authority responsible for collecting the tax liability, where the awarding agency is aware of the unpaid tax liability, unless the agency has considered suspension or debarment of the corporation and made a determination that this further action is not necessary to protect the interests of the Government; or
    • Was convicted (or had an officer or agent of such corporation acting on behalf of the corporation convicted) of a felony criminal violation under any Federal or State law within the preceding 24 months, where the awarding agency is aware of the conviction, unless the agency has considered suspension or debarment of the corporation and made a determination that this further action is not necessary to protect the interests of the Government; or
    • Is listed on the General Services Administration’s, government-wide System for Award Management Exclusions (SAM Exclusions), in accordance with the OMB guidelines at 2 C.F.R Part 180 that implement E.O.s 12549 (3 C.F.R., 1986 Comp., p. 189) and 12689 (3 C.F.R., 1989 Comp., p. 235), “Debarment and Suspension, ” or intends to enter into any subaward, contract or other Contract using funds provided by NFWF with any party listed on the SAM Exclusions in accordance with Executive Orders 12549 and 12689. The SAM Exclusions can be found at https://www.sam.gov/portal/public/SAM/.

QUESTIONS

Offerors should submit questions regarding this RFP via e-mail to Suzanne Sessine (suzanne.sessine@nfwf.org). NFWF will respond to all offerors concurrently with written responses. In order to provide equitable responses, all questions must be received by NFWF no later than November 4, 2016. Responses to those questions will be developed into a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document that will be posted on November 9, 2016 and available to all offerors.

SUBMISSION DEADLINES

​October 25, 2016 ​Request for Proposals (RFP) released.
​November 9, 2016 ​Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) posted.
​November 22, 2016 ​Deadline for responses to RFP. Proposals must be received electronically as email attachments with the subject line “Proposal Package for Coastal Watershed Resilience Assessments” to Suzanne Sessine (suzanne.sessine@nfwf.org) by midnight Eastern Time.
​December 12-16, 2016 ​Interviews with selected finalists.
​December 22, 2016 (approx.) ​Notice of award to selected Contractor.
​ January 15, 2018 ​Draft comprehensive report integrating all coastal watershed assessments presented to NFWF (NOTE: deliverables for each watershed will be due as assessments are completed throughout project period).
​February 28, 2018 ​Final Comprehensive Coastal Watershed Assessments Report due to NFWF.
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