Delaware River Restoration Fund: Request for Proposals

Proposal Due Date:  Thursday, March 6, 2014 (midnight)

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) is soliciting proposals to restore the water quality and habitats of the Delaware River watershed. In 2014, the Delaware River Restoration Fund will award matching grants of $50,000 - $500,000 each to nonprofits and local governments working to improve waters that contribute to the overall health of the Delaware River. A total of over $2 million in grant funding is available. Major funding for the Delaware River Restoration Fund is provided by the William Penn Foundation.

Grants will be awarded in two categories:

Targeted Implementation Grants of $50,000 to $500,000 each will be awarded to nonprofit organizations and local governments to implement on-the-ground restoration to improve water quality and habitat within one or more of five targeted, regional sub-watershed “clusters” (See map) including: the Kirkwood-Cohansey Cluster (map), the New Jersey Highlands Cluster (map), the Middle Schuylkill Cluster (map), the Brandywine-Christina Cluster (map), and the Suburban Philadelphia Cluster (map). These grants require minimum matching contributions valued at 25% of total project costs (i.e., 1/3 of the grant request); however grants in the higher end of the range are strongly encouraged to achieve matching contributions approaching or exceeding 50%.

Innovation Grants of $50,000 to $100,000 each will be awarded to nonprofit organizations, local governments and academic institutions to address cross cutting issues that are barriers to, or represent unique opportunities for accelerating water quality improvements in the Delaware River watershed. These grants encourage matching contributions valued at 50% of total project costs (i.e., 1:1 ratio). 

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NFWF will host a webinar for applicants on Friday, February 7th to review this Request for Proposals and respond to questions.  Applicants are strongly encouraged to participate, and can register for the webinar here.

Restoration Priorities

A.    Targeted Implementation Grants. Priority for Implementation Grants will be given to projects that address the following strategies in one or more of the regional Clusters.

1.         Conservation on Working Forests and Farmland. Provide outreach and technical assistance to engage private landowners in restoration and conservation on their lands. Programs may target working forests and farms, providing technical assistance to farmers, forest managers, and other private landowners to improve the health of local waters.  Specific approaches include:

    • Reducing pollutants entering headwater streams (including bacteria, nitrogen, phosphorus, sediment, thermal and other pollutants) through increased landowner adoption of conservation- and nutrient management plans, and implementation of practices such as livestock exclusion fencing, livestock crossings, forested riparian buffers, barnyard management and manure storage, no-till planting, cover crops, pasture management, and other practices that reduce soil compaction and support soil health. Geographic Focus: Brandywine-Christina Cluster, esp., Honey Brook headwaters and Sharitz Run; Middle Schuylkill Cluster, esp., Maiden Creek; Kirkwood-Cohansey Cluster, esp. Salem River and Core Pine Barrens; and, the New Jersey Highlands Cluster, esp. Upper Paulins Kill.

    • Securing landowner support and commitment to permanent, forested riparian buffers, and increasing local government commitment to land use policies and regulations that codify riparian buffers. Geographic Focus: Brandywine-Christina Cluster, esp., White Clay Creek; Kirkwood-Cohansey Cluster; and the New Jersey Highlands Cluster.

    • Establishing “whole farm” environmental performance programs that work with landowners to address all aspects of nutrient, bacterial, and sediment losses from the barnyard, field, pasture, and areas of conveyances including hydric soils, groundwater, wetlands, floodplains, and streams. Geographic Focus:  Middle Schuylkill Cluster, esp., Maiden Creek and Tulpehocken Creek; and the Brandywine-Christina Cluster.

    • Building peer-to-peer opportunities for farmer outreach that encourage farmer-led communication of conservation practices, programs, and benefits and will increase recruitment for participation in cost share and other local, state and federal programs. Geographic Focus: Middle Schuylkill Cluster.

    • Improving farmer participation in Farm Bill programs that conserve water, enhance soil health, and increase on-farm infiltration of surface waters to the aquifer, and increase riparian buffer and protect wetland areas. Geographic Focus: Kirkwood-Cohansey Cluster, esp. Salem River.

2.  Restoring Wetlands, Floodplains and Stream Corridors. Reduce stream bank erosion and scouring, improve floodplain storage and filtering capacity, and restore stream function to provide clean water and fish habitat. This work will include stream bank restoration, forested riparian buffer restoration, and wetland restoration and enhancement. Priority will be given to restoration on public lands or lands that are otherwise permanently or semi-permanently protected. Specific approaches include:

    • Restoring and enhancing existing stream buffers that will significantly improve their function in protecting in-stream quality, reduce non-point source pollution introduction to the system, and increase public engagement in the practice. Geographic Focus: Kirkwood-Cohansey Cluster, esp. Salem River.
    • Restoring in-stream/river habitat in historic trout, mussel, migratory fish areas where best management practices (BMPs) have been implemented and can sustain in-stream conditions for successful reintroduction of species of interest. Geographic Focus: Brandywine-Christina Cluster, esp., Sharitz Run and Buck Run; Kirkwood-Cohansey Cluster, esp. Salem River and Cohansey-Maurice Rivers.
    • Restoring the capacity of rural/urban/suburban streams to mitigate the impact of land disturbances (including impervious areas) and to assimilate floodwaters by increasing connectivity of streams with their floodplains, improving riparian buffers, and restoring eroding stream banks. Geographic Focus: Brandywine-Christina Cluster, esp., Plum Run and Black Run; Kirkwood-Cohansey Cluster, esp., Core Pine Barrens; New Jersey Highlands Cluster, esp., Upper Paulins Kill, Lower Musconetcong River; and the Suburban Philadelphia Cluster.

3. Green Infrastructure in Urban/Suburban Landscapes. Build local government capacity for green infrastructure and accelerate adoption of green infrastructure practices on private lands.  

 
What is Green Infrastructure?

Green infrastructure is an approach to wet weather management that is cost-effective, sustainable, and environmentally friendly. Green Infrastructure management approaches and technologies infiltrate, evapotranspire, capture and reuse stormwater to maintain or restore natural hydrologies.

The preservation and restoration of natural landscape features (such as forests, floodplains and wetlands) are critical components of green stormwater infrastructure. By protecting these ecologically sensitive areas, communities can improve water quality while providing wildlife habitat and opportunities for outdoor recreation.

On a smaller scale, green infrastructure practices include rain gardens, porous pavement, green roofs, infiltration planters, trees and tree boxes, and rainwater harvesting for non-potable uses such as toilet flushing and landscape irrigation.

 
    • Increasing water conservation and on-site re-infiltration in order to reduce stormwater runoff, decrease aquifer withdrawals and improve critical recharge. Projects may target improved domestic-, agricultural-, and commercial water management, implementation of upland (non-riparian area) measures for decreasing nonpoint source runoff from urban and working landscapes, and increased native re-vegetation in infiltration areas. Geographic Focus: Kirkwood-Cohansey Cluster and Suburban Philadelphia Cluster.
    • Reducing private septic seepage with emphasis in concentrated and vulnerable areas and through strong collaboration with local municipalities. Geographic Focus: Kirkwood-Cohansey Cluster, esp., Town of Hammonton; New Jersey Highlands Cluster, esp. Lower Musconetcong River.
    • Restoring and enhancing existing stream buffers to protect in-stream quality, reduce non-point source pollution introduction to the system, and increase public engagement in the practice. Geographic Focus: Kirkwood-Cohansey Cluster, esp., Town of Hammonton; and, Suburban Philadelphia Cluster.

Innovation Grant Priorities

Innovation grants will be awarded to projects that address cross cutting issues that are barriers to, or represent unique opportunities for accelerating water quality improvements in the Delaware River watershed. Grants may support innovative methods and new technologies that hold the promise to drive down costs, expand the effectiveness of restoration practices and accelerate the pace of recovery. Priority will be given to projects that address the following issues:

1. Improving delivery of Farm Bill programs in ways that offer new incentives for landowner participation, and strive to maximize BMP performance. Projects should strive to leverage Federal Farm Bill funding to accelerate implementation of BMPs and other conservation strategies.

2. Demonstrating intergovernmental collaboration among local governments and partners to realize efficiencies in achieving water quality goals. Projects may include shared staffing and collaboration on program delivery, as well as joint restoration strategies to implement larger-scale restoration that benefits multiple downstream jurisdictions.

3. Building the capacity of local governments and community organizations to integrate “green” solutions into capital programs for parks, schools, transportation and community redevelopment. Projects should demonstrate how local governments can integrate green infrastructure restoration, protection and maintenance into existing budgets and programs across multiple departments (e.g., public works, parks and recreation, emergency management, education, transportation).

4. Increasing adoption of green infrastructure practices on residential and commercial properties in targeted communities. Projects should strategically target audiences that move beyond the “early adopters”.

Innovation projects should seek to affirm the proof of concept and are encouraged to include assessment and evaluation to draw meaningful conclusions about program effectiveness, and to include written case studies documenting the results.

Grant Guidelines

  • Projects must be implemented entirely within the Delaware River watershed, which includes portions of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware. Organizations located outside the watershed may apply if their projects will be conducted entirely within the watershed.
  • Generally grants of less than $100,000 will be awarded for restoration at a single site and/or involving a limited number of partners. Proposals requesting $100,000 - $500,000 should represent broad-based partnerships engaged in implementing comprehensive watershed restoration approaches that include multiple sites and multiple strategies.
  • All proposals must be able to demonstrate significant, measurable outputs and outcomes that will help to achieve the restoration of the Delaware River and its tributaries.  Performance measures may include acres of wetlands enhanced, acres of forest restored, feet/miles of riparian forest buffer or stream bank restored, feet/miles of livestock exclusion fencing installed, acres treated by stormwater BMPs, etc.
  • For stream restoration projects, significant, measurable outputs and monitoring performance standards should be tied to stream functions following guidelines presented in “A Function-based Framework for Stream Assessment and Restoration Projects” (Harman et al, 2012).  A copy of this document can be downloaded from: http://water.epa.gov/lawsregs/guidance/wetlands/upload/A_Function-Based_Framework-2.pdf.  The functions to be assessed will be based on the project goals and objectives.  However, the minimum functions that should be assessed include: floodplain connectivity, lateral stability, riparian vegetation, and sediment transport.  It is strongly encouraged that documentation of stream functions follow Table 11.1 Functional Lift Determination example in the Framework Document.
  • 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.
  • Eligible applicants include: non-profit 501(c) organizations (e.g., watershed organizations, land trusts, homeowners associations, environmental organizations, private schools, etc.), local governments and agencies (e.g., counties, townships, cities, boroughs, conservation districts, planning districts, utility districts, public schools), and academic and research institutions. Priority for Targeted Implementation Grants will be given to applicants who participated on a Cluster Team during the William Penn Foundation Cluster planning process, and/or applicants who are partnering with Cluster Team participants. (See list of Cluster Teams.)
  • Individuals, state and federal government agencies and for-profit firms are not eligible applicants.
  • Projects must engage all appropriate local partners to ensure the long-term sustainability of the project, as well as its integration into local programs and policies. In most cases these partners will include: local government agencies (e.g., departments of planning, zoning, public works, environment, school districts, etc.), local land trusts and/or watershed groups, and community leaders.
  • Projects must be technically sound and feasible and carried out by qualified individuals and organizations. Applicants are encouraged to provide documentation of technical assistance either received or committed to by appropriate state and federal agencies, academics and consultants.
  • Grantees must contribute matching funds and in-kind services valued at a minimum of 25 percent of total project costs for targeted implementation grants and for the larger request in this category, a 50 percent match is encouraged.  For all innovation grants, preference will be given to proposals that have matching contributions valued at 50 percent of total project costs or greater (i.e., 1:1 ratio).
  • Grantees may only use grant funds for indirect costs if 1) 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).
  • Projects must be ready to begin implementation within six months of the grant award, and completed within two years of grant award.
  • All applicants with active grants from NFWF must be in good standing in terms of reporting requirements, and expenditure of funds.
 

Ineligible Uses of Grant Funds

X     Neither grant funds nor matching contributions may be used to support political advocacy, lobbying or litigation.

X     Grantees may not use grant funds 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. Grant funds also may be used to develop or inform the development of cost-effective programs to implement MS4 permit requirements.

Evaluation Criteria for Implementation Grants

Proposals will be reviewed, evaluated, and scored based on the extent to which they meet the following criteria:

Environmental Results (25 points) - Project restores and/or protects the water quality and living resources of the Delaware River and its tributaries.

Priority Strategies (15 points) - Project addresses one or more of the priorities outlined in the Request for Proposals.

Partnership (15 points) - An appropriate partnership exists to implement the project and the project is supported by a strong local partnership that will sustain it after the life of the grant.

Transferability (15 points) - Project has potential and plan to transfer lessons learned to other communities within the Delaware River watershed and/or to be integrated into government programs and policies (e.g., state and Federal cost share, MS4 program delivery, etc.).

Work Plan (15 points) - Project is technically sound and feasible, and the proposal sets forth a clear, logical and achievable work plan.

Budget (15 points) - The budget is cost-effective, reasonable, and leverages other partner contributions.

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How to Apply for a Grant

1. Go to www.nfwf.org/easygrants to register in our Easygrants online system. (If you already are a registered user, use your existing login.) Enter your applicant information.
2. Select the “Delaware River Restoration Fund” from the list of “Funding Opportunity” options.
3. Follow the instructions in Easygrants to complete your application. Once you get started, you may save your application in progress and return another time to complete and submit it.
4. Refer to the Delaware River Restoration Fund Tip Sheet for quick reference while you are working through your application. It may be downloaded at www.nfwf.org/delaware

Proposals are due on Thursday, March 6 and must be submitted through NFWF’s online application at www.nfwf.org/easygrants

Important Dates

ü  Friday, February 7th   Webinar for Potential Applicants

ü  Thursday, March 6   All Proposals Due

ü  Early May    Anticipated announcement of awards*

*Please do not contact the Foundation regarding the status of your proposal until after the announcement date.

For More Information

Visit www.nfwf.org/delaware or contact:

Amanda Bassow, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
amanda.bassow@nfwf.org
(202) 595-2476

or

Kristen Saacke Blunk, Headwaters LLC
(814) 360-9766