Delaware River Restoration Fund 2017 Request for Proposals

Full Proposal Due Date: Thursday, March 30, 2017 by 11:59 PM Eastern Time

OVERVIEW

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) is soliciting proposals to restore the water quality and habitats of the Delaware River watershed. In 2017, the Delaware River Restoration Fund (DRRF) will award matching grants of $50,000 to $500,000 each to improve waters that contribute to the overall health of the Delaware River. Approximately $2 million - $2.5 million in grant funding is available. Major funding for the DRRF is provided by the William Penn Foundation. Grants will be awarded in four categories:

Targeted Watershed Implementation Grants will be awarded to nonprofit organizations, local governments and educational institutions to implement on-the-ground restoration to improve water quality and habitat within one or more of five Delaware River Watershed Initiative (DRWI) sub-watershed “Clusters,” including: the Kirkwood-Cohansey Cluster, New Jersey Highlands Cluster, Middle Schuylkill Cluster, Brandywine-Christina Cluster, and Suburban Philadelphia Cluster. Projects should be located within or benefit Cluster focal areas as identified in the Cluster Plans. One or more of three priority strategies must be addressed: Conservation on Working Lands – Farms and Forests; Restoring Streams, Floodplains and Wetlands; and Green Infrastructure in Urban/Suburban Landscapes.

Cluster Cornerstone Grants will be awarded to nonprofit organizations, local governments and educational institutions to implement large-scale, strategic project(s) in Cluster focal areas that will serve as “cornerstones” as the DRRF transitions into its second phase. These projects will integrate several partners with clear roles, address multiple restoration priorities through a detailed work plan, and leverage Cluster resources (including monitoring) to serve as a model in collaboratively advancing goals set forth in Cluster plans.

Habitat Restoration Grants and Innovation Grants will be awarded to nonprofit organizations, local governments and educational institutions to address habitat restoration priorities and cross cutting issues that are barriers to, or represent unique opportunities for, accelerating water quality in the Delaware River watershed.

GEOGRAPHIC FOCUS

DRRF 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 project will be conducted entirely within the watershed. To be eligible for Targeted Implementation Grant and Cornerstone Grant funding, projects should be located within or substantially affect the focal areas of one of the five Clusters listed above and shown on the map. View map here​.

PROGRAM PRIORITIES

All proposals must specifically address how projects for which funds are requested will directly and measurably contribute to the accomplishment of program goals. The Delaware River Restoration Fund seeks projects in the following program priorities:

  1. Targeted Watershed Implementation Grants. Priority for Targeted Implementation Grants will be given to projects that address at least one of the following strategies in one or more of the focal areas identified in the Cluster plans.  To obtain one or more of the Cluster plans, please contact the program director listed in this RFP.
    • Conservation on Working Lands – Farms and Forests. Deliver outreach and technical assistance to engage private landowners in restoration and conservation on their lands using a deliberate and well-articulated implementation strategy and work plan. Programs may provide technical assistance to producers, forest managers, and other private landowners to improve the health of local waters. The most competitive projects will prioritize a comprehensive approach to agriculture conservation and demonstrate strong collaboration with relevant federal, state, regional agencies, and private conservation organizations. Projects should extensively leverage federal Farm Bill resources and other state and federal programs for implementation, explicitly address technical assistance needs, and ensure landowners are invested in the success of the project. Specific approaches include the following:
      • Reducing pollutants entering headwater streams (including bacteria, nitrogen, phosphorus, sediment, thermal, and other pollutants) by increasing landowner adoption of conservation and nutrient management plans, implementation of practices such as livestock exclusion fencing and stream crossings, forested riparian buffers, wetland restoration, barnyard management and manure storage, no-till planting, cover crops, pasture management, filter strips, contour farming, installing accumulated flow spreaders and other practices that reduce soil erosion and/or 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 permanently protect forested riparian buffers, and cooperating with municipalities to improve local programs, codes and policies for the restoration and management of riparian buffers. Geographic Focus: Brandywine-Christina Cluster, esp. White Clay Creek; Kirkwood-Cohansey Cluster; and the New Jersey Highlands Cluster.
      • Establishing comprehensive, or “whole farm” best management practice (BMP) programs working with landowners to address all aspects of polluted runoff 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 networks for farmer outreach that encourage farm and community-level communication of conservation practices, programs and benefits. The networks should also increase recruitment for participation in cost share and other local, state and federal conservation programs. Geographic Focus: Middle Schuylkill Cluster.
      • Increasing farmer participation in Farm Bill programs to conserve water and improve efficiency, enhance soil health, increase and on-farm infiltration of surface water to the aquifer, increase riparian buffers and protect wetlands. Geographic Focus: Kirkwood-Cohansey Cluster, esp. Salem River.
    • Restoring Streams, Floodplains and Wetlands. Reduce stream bank erosion and scouring, improve floodplain storage/infiltration and filtering capacity, and restore hydrology and stream function to provide clean water and fish habitat. This work will include restoration and enhancement of stream banks, forested riparian buffers, and wetlands. Priority will be given to restoration on public lands or lands that are otherwise permanently or semi-permanently protected. Specific approaches include the following:
      • Restoring and enhancing existing stream buffers that will significantly improve their function in protecting in-stream water 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 instream and river habitat in historic trout, mussel, and migratory fish areas where BMPs have been implemented and conditions for successful reintroduction of species of interest are possible. 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 improve floodwater retention by maximizing infiltration, addressing underlying hydrological challenges, increasing connectivity of streams with floodplains, enhancing 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.
    • Green Stormwater Infrastructure in Urban/Suburban Landscapes. Build local government capacity for green infrastructure and accelerate adoption of green infrastructure practices on private lands.
      • Increasing water conservation and on-site 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, technically-appropriate retrofits to stormwater basins (including engineered/scaled graduated outlet structures and increased native re-vegetation in infiltration areas). Geographic Focus: Kirkwood-Cohansey Cluster and Suburban Philadelphia Cluster.
      • Reducing seepage from private septic systems with emphasis in areas with a high concentration of septics or those especially vulnerable to seepage. This work should be performed in 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, and increase public engagement in the practice. Geographic Focus: Kirkwood-Cohansey Cluster, esp. Town of Hammonton; and Suburban Philadelphia Cluster.
  2. Cluster Cornerstone Grants. Cluster Cornerstone Grants will be awarded to projects that exhibit exceptional strategic planning and partner engagement to deliver one large project or a suite of projects within the focal areas of the five restoration Clusters. These projects should be designed to allow for measurable progress—and will serve as models that collaboratively advance Cluster efforts to achieve goals set forth in Cluster plans. Specifically, these projects will:
    • ​Establish a project leadership team and coordinate well-defined roles and activities of numerous Cluster participants and other partners necessary for effective project delivery; consider including new and non-traditional partners to broaden impact.
    • Present a clear work plan (to prioritize restoration needs and the most important practices to improve water quality) with an achievable timeline that includes metrics and outcomes by which progress will be measured (look to DRRF and DRWI metrics for guidance).
    • Address multiple DRRF Program Priorities as described above for Targeted Implementation Grants and/or Innovation Grants.
    • Give careful consideration to watershed context, complement other existing or planned Cluster projects, and implement pollution source reduction strategies (upstream and upland) prior to restoration and other “end of pipe” solutions.
    • Integrate data collection, employ adaptive management and incorporate information-sharing mechanisms within the Cluster and externally; have a plan for using information for education, outreach and technical assistance purposes.
    • Prioritize and fully incorporate monitoring (existing or planned) through coordination with DRWI monitoring, modeling (SRAT and other tools), and citizen science efforts within the Cluster.
    • Consult with NFWF and the Circuit Riders in the development of the project proposals (contact the program director for additional details); ensure TA is available to partners.
    • Frame outcomes with the expectation that methods and lessons will serve as examples of strategic restoration and can be exported to other focal areas and DRWI Clusters. Successful Cluster Cornerstone Grants will serve as models and provide case studies as the DRWI moves into Phase 2.
  3. ​Habitat Restoration Grants. Habitat Restoration Grants will be awarded to projects that address restoration priorities for nearshore habitat, aquatic habitat, and forest habitat. Priority will be given to projects that address the following issues:
    • ​​Nearshore habitat. Collaboratively address threats to shorebirds in the Delaware Bay and Bayshore (esp. Red Knot). Priority will be given to projects that also benefit water quality and improve coastal habitat resilience.
    • Aquatic habitat. Improve fish passage and habitat connectivity in streams. Projects should demonstrate how they not only improve access to upstream waters and improve instream habitat (esp. for eastern brook trout, American shad and river herring), but also how they will result in improvements to water quality.
    • Forest habitat. Improve management of forest blocks for age and structural diversity to demonstrate improved forest conditions for birds and other wildlife (esp. wood thrush, golden-winged warbler and cerulean warbler).
  4. Innovation Grants. Innovation Grants will be awarded to projects that address cross cutting issues that are barriers to, or represent unique opportunities for, accelerating water quality improvement in the Delaware River Watershed. Grants may support cutting-edge methods and new technologies to drive down costs, increase collaboration, expand the effectiveness of restoration practices and accelerate conservation. Projects should seek to build 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 that will enhance transferability. Priority will be given to projects that contribute to Cluster plans and DRWI goals.

PROJECT METRICS

To better gauge progress on individual grants and to ensure greater consistency of project data provided by multiple grants, the Delaware River Restoration Fund has a list of metrics in Easygrants for grantees to choose from for 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 do not believe an applicable metric has been provided, please contact Rachel Dawson or Mike Lagua to discuss acceptable alternatives.

Project Activity

Recommended Metric

Additional Guidance

Outreach for restoration practices and BMPs resulting in increased awareness

Capacity, Outreach, Incentives- Outreach/Education/ Technical Assistance - people reached

Enter number of people reached; indicate audience (farmers, landowners, municipalities, etc) within the target geography in the NOTES section

Outreach for restoration practices and BMPs resulting in community behavior change

Capacity, Outreach, Incentives- Outreach/ Education/ Technical Assistance - # people with changed behavior

Enter the number of people with changed behavior; characterize the audience (farmers, landowners, municipalities) within the target geography in the NOTES section

Engaging volunteers to help with restoration project implementation and community outreach

Capacity, Outreach, Incentives - Volunteer participation - # volunteers participating

Enter the number of volunteers

Installing fence to exclude livestock from stream and buffer access

Habitat Management - BMP implementation for livestock fencing - Miles of fencing installed

Enter number of miles of livestock fencing

Delivery of restoration activities and BMPs on a number of acres to reduce nutrient and sediment runoff on agriculture or private lands

Habitat Management - BMP implementation for nutrient or sediment reduction - Acres with BMPs

Enter number of acres; indicate the type of BMP(s) (e.g. manure storage, cover crops) and indicate percent of practices implemented as recommended in a plan in NOTES section

Delivery of restoration activities and BMPs to reduce nitrogen entering watersheds

Habitat Management - BMP implementation for nutrient or sediment reduction - Lbs nitrogen avoided (annually)

Enter the amount of nitrogen prevented from entering system annually

Implementation of restoration activities and BMPs to reduce phosphorus entering watersheds

Habitat Management - BMP implementation for nutrient or sediment reduction - Lbs phosphorous avoided (annually)

Enter the amount of phosphorous prevented from entering system annually

Implementation of restoration activities and BMPs to reduce sediment transport

Habitat Management - BMP implementation for nutrient or sediment reduction - Lbs sediment avoided (annually)

Enter the amount of sediment prevented from entering system annually

Implementation of urban/suburban restoration projects and green infrastructure stormwater practices to reduce runoff on a number of acres

Habitat Management - BMP implementation for stormwater runoff - Acres with BMPs

Enter number of acres treated with stormwater BMP(s); indicate the type of BMP(s) (e.g., rain gardens, constructed wetlands, green roofs, rain barrels, etc.) and inches of rainfall that will be stored, infiltrated and/or filtered within a 48-hour rain event in NOTES section

Implementing restoration activities and green infrastructure BMPs to reduce the volume of urban and suburban stormwater

Habitat Management - BMP implementation for stormwater runoff - Volume stormwater prevented

Enter the volume (in gallons) of stormwater prevented from entering the system; indicate type of BMP(s) in the NOTES section

Improved aquatic connectivity via dam removal, bridge and culvert removal, and/or installation of fish passage structures

Habitat Restoration - Fish passage improvements - Miles of stream opened

Enter the number of miles of stream opened to improve aquatic habitat connectivity

Implementation of restoration activities to improve instream habitat and stream function

Habitat Restoration - Instream restoration - Miles restored

Enter the number of miles restored; briefly indicate the type of restoration in the NOTES section

Restoration of riparian areas to improve water quality and habitat function

Habitat Restoration - Riparian restoration - Miles restored

Enter miles of riparian areas restored; indicate the type of buffer (e.g. forested, vegetated), buffer width, and acres in the NOTES section

Restoration and enhancement of wetlands to improve water quality and habitat

Habitat Restoration - Wetland restoration - Acres restored

Enter the number of acres restored or enhanced

Implementation of BMPs and restoration activities to improve septic systems for improved water quality

Other Outcomes - Septic Upgrades- # Septic system upgrades

Enter the number of septic system upgrades

Implementing Forest Management and Stewardship

Habitat Management – Improved management practices – Acres under improved management

Enter the number of acres under improved management; indicate seral stages in NOTES section

Restoration of floodplains where stream hydrology is restored to reduce erosion

Habitat Restoration – Floodplain restoration- Acres restored

Enter the number of acres restored

Local governments that improve codes, ordinances, and policies to improve water quality

Capacity, Outreach, Incentives - Outreach/ Education/ Technical Assistance - # gov't entities participating

Enter the number of municipalities or local governments participating

ELIGIBILITY

Eligible and Ineligible Entities

  • ​Eligible applicants include non-profit 501(c) organizations, local governments, municipal governments, Indian tribes, and educational institutions. Priority for Targeted Watershed Implementation Grants will be given to DRWI Cluster participants and their partners.

  • Ineligible applicants include: unincorporated individuals, businesses, U.S. Federal government agencies, state government agencies, 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 DRRF will award $2 million to $2.5 million in grants in 2017. Generally grants of less than $100,000 will be awarded for restoration at a single site and/or involving a limited number of partners. Any proposals requesting $100,000 to $500,000 should represent broad-based partnerships engaged in implementing comprehensive watershed restoration approaches that may include multiple sites and multiple strategies. Grants will be awarded in four categories:

  1. Targeted Watershed Implementation Grants will range from $50,000 to $250,000 each. These grants require a minimum matching contribution valued at 25% of total project costs (i.e., 1/3 of the grant request) is required; however grants in the higher end of the range are strongly encouraged to approach or exceed 50% match to ensure competitiveness. Projects must be ready to begin implementation within six months of the grant award, and completed within two years of grant award.

  2. Cluster Cornerstone Grants may qualify for up to $500,000 each. These grants require a minimum matching contribution valued at 25% of total project costs (i.e., 1/3 of the grant request) is required; however grants in the higher end of the range are strongly encouraged to approach or exceed 50% match to ensure competitiveness. Projects must be ready to begin implementation within six months of the grant award. Typically, projects are completed within two years of grant award, but a longer timeline can be requested to implement all projects and achieve desired outcomes.

  3. Habitat Grants will be awarded in the range of $50,000 to $250,000 each. Applicants are encouraged to have matching contributions valued at 50% of total project costs (1:1 ratio). Projects must be ready to begin implementation within six months of the grant award, and completed within two years of grant award.

  4. Innovation Grants will be awarded in the range of $50,000 to $100,000 each. Applicants are encouraged to have matching contributions valued at 50% of total project costs (1:1 ratio). Projects must be ready to begin implementation within six months of the grant award, and completed within two years of grant award.

Applicants may only apply to one of the above funding categories for a project (e.g. an applicant cannot use the same project or components of the project to apply for a Cornerstone Grant and Targeted Watershed Implementation Grants).

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 DRRF’s overall water quality, habitat and species conservation goals and has specific, quantifiable performance metrics (e.g. acres of wetlands enhanced, miles of riparian forest buffer restored, feet/miles of livestock exclusion fencing installed, gallons of stormwater avoided, etc.) to evaluate project success. Project addresses one or more of the program priorities outlined in the Request for Proposal

Technical Merit – 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 all activities are both technically sound and feasible. Project proactively addresses local technical assistance capacity including challenges, needs, and limitations and provides tangible ways to enhance delivery.

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 (OMB Uniform Guidance).

Work Plan – The applicant provides a detailed work plan with clear activities, roles, and outcomes associated with the project. The work plan can be used as a way of assessing progress of the project.

Partnership – An appropriate partnership exists to implement the project and the project is supported by a strong local partnership that leverages additional funds and will sustain it after the life of the grant. Identify proposed partners, if known (including potential or contemplated subawards to third party subrecipients of the applicant), the roles they will play in implementing the project, and how this project will build new or enhance existing partnerships. (Note: a project partner is any local community, non-profit organization, tribe, and/or local, state, and federal government agency that contributes to the project in a substantial way and is closely involved in the completion of the project.). Proposals with large grant requests should include a more robust partnership.

Transferability - Project has potential and plan to transfer lessons learned to other communities and Clusters or to be integrated into government programs and policies.

Cluster Plan and Context – For Targeted Implementation Grant and Cluster Cornerstone Grant proposals, the project advances the relevant Cluster Plan, is presented as part of the broader Cluster and/or watershed context, and is an important element of a thoughtful shared Cluster 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. Targeted Implementation Grant and Cluster Cornerstone Grant proposals must describe how the project will integrate with ongoing or planned Cluster monitoring efforts, either by the grantee or by partners.

Letters of Support – Proposal includes letters of support from project partners, stakeholders and/or technical assistance providers; letters should describe any match or contribution offered to the project. Cluster Cornerstone Grant proposals should include letters of support that confirm partner roles and contributions.

OTHER

General – Applicants will be required to indicate the status of all permits required to comply with federal, state or local requirements.

Procurement – If the applicant chooses to specifically identify proposed Contractor(s) for Services, an award by NFWF to the applicant does not necessarily constitute NFWF’s express written authorization for the applicant to procure such specific services noncompetitively. When procuring goods and services, NFWF recipients must follow 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.

Environmental Compliance Requirements – Projects selected to receive Federal funding may be subject to requirements under the National Environmental Policy Act, Endangered Species Act (state and federal), and National Historic Preservation Act.  As may be applicable, successful applicants may be required to comply with such Federal, state or local requirements and obtain all necessary permits and clearances. 

Quality Assurance – If a project involves significant monitoring, data collection or data use, grantees will be asked to prepare and submit quality assurance documentation (www.epa.gov/quality/qapps.html). Applicants should budget time and resources to complete this task.

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.

TIMELINE

Dates of activities are subject to change. Please check the DRRF Program page of the NFWF website for the most current dates and information.

​Applicant Webinar ​February 10, 2017, 1:00pm Eastern Time
Cornerstone Applicant Webinar ​February 10, 2017, 2:00pm Eastern Time
Full Proposal Due Date ​March 30, 2017, 11:59pm Eastern Time
Review Period ​April – May 2017
Awards Announced Late June 2017

HOW TO APPLY

All application materials must be submitted online through National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Easygrants system.

  1. ​Go to www.nfwf.org/easygrants 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.
  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 as application has been started, it may be saved and returned to at a later time for completion and submission.

APPLICATION INFORMATION

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:

Rachel Dawson – Program Director, Delaware River
(202) 595-2643
rachel.dawson@nfwf.org

Mike Lagua – Coordinator, Delaware River
(202) 595-2612
michael.lagua@nfwf.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 to which you are applying, and a description of the issue