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 Forestland Stewards: Cumberland Plateau 2013 Request for Proposals

 

Proposal Due Date: 11:59pm, June 18, 2013

 

OVERVIEW

International Paper (IP) and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) have formed a partnership, Forestland Stewards, to identify, restore and protect landscapes in priority regions within the southern United States. IP’s partnership with NFWF will support the sustainable management of natural, working and restored forests to benefit wildlife and people. The program seeks to ensure the continued health of forests, promote clean water and biodiversity and expand economic opportunities in “forest mosaic” landscapes.

One of the priority regions targeted by Forestland Stewards is the Southern Cumberland Plateau. The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, in partnership with International Paper, invites your submission of proposals within the Southern Cumberland Plateau that will help accelerate the restoration and enhancement of critical forest habitats in the region, with a particular interest in the shortleaf pine/oak savannah ecosystem, a resilient, fire-adapted ecosystem of economic and ecological importance.

 In the first year of this program, the partners are seeking proposals that serve as “demonstration projects” in the region. Demonstration projects are defined as projects that are visible and accessible to practitioners, that advance and showcase the goals of the new initiative and that reflect the type of cooperative partnership—public and private interests working together--that serve as the foundation of this new program.

 It is anticipated that approximately $250,000 will be available for grant awards under Forestland Stewards within the Southern Cumberland Plateau in 2013. Grant awards will range from $50,000 to $200,000, depending on the overall scale of the project.  Awards are anticipated to be announced in July 2013.

Interested applicants are encouraged to contact Suzanne Sessine at suzanne.sessine@nfwf.org to discuss project ideas.

GEOGRAPHIC FOCUS AND ELIGIBLE APPLICANTS

Projects within the Southern Cumberland Plateau in southern Kentucky, central Tennessee and northern Alabama and Georgia View Map are eligible. Government agencies, non-governmental organizations, academic institutions, and private entities are eligible to apply for activities on public or private lands.

CONSERVATION GOALS AND OBJECTIVES

Forestland Stewards supports protection and enhancement of ecologically important forestland through establishing protected wildlife corridors between existing hubs of forestland and assisting landowners and managers in improving management practices to enhance the economic and ecological functions of working forests.

The program is designed to:

  • Protect and enhance core habitat areas as anchor forests.

  • Improve management of private and public forests for environmental and economic needs.

  • Restore populations of at-risk wildlife and plant species.

  • Improve water and air quality through healthier forests.

Within the Southern Cumberland Plateau, Forestland Stewards has a particular, initial interest in catalyzing and accelerating shortleaf pine ecosystem restoration, to support the following five-year objectives:

  • Restore 2,500 acres of shortleaf pine and other native forest species

  • Protect/enhance 25,000 acres of vulnerable pine and hardwood forest habitat

  • Enhance water quality in the region

  • Increase populations of  Ground nesting birds, Songbirds (e.g. Cerulean Warbler), Mussels, Amphibians

All proposals must specifically address how projects for which funds are requested will directly and measurably contribute to the accomplishment of the restoration, enhancement and species goals outlined above.

FUNDING PRIORITIES

Forestland Stewards seeks forest restoration projects implementing the following strategies:

  1. Establishing Healthy Forests (with a particular interest in Shortleaf Pine): Restoring forest systems, particularly shortleaf pine, through reforestation actions that benefit water quality and species is a major objective of the Forestland Stewards Initiative.

  2. Enhancing and Maintaining Shortleaf Pine/Healthy Forest Ecosystems: Maintaining existing native forest systems, again with an emphasis on shortleaf pine/oak savanna ecosystems, using a variety of methods including prescribed burning and its frequency to enhance wildlife habitat and improve water quality.

  3. Expanding and Coordinating Technical Assistance and Outreach: Contact and inform private landowners about shortleaf pine restoration opportunities and engage in on-the-ground shortleaf pine stewardship practices that contribute to the conservation objectives of this program. Priority will be placed on supporting additional landowner technical assistance providers to expand on-the-ground restoration and protection activities on private lands.  Applications must provide the projected number of acres restored or enhanced that will result from the technical assistance proposed.

  4. Accelerating Species Recovery: Implementing restoration projects in high-priority watersheds that will enhance population of at-risk aquatic and forest species.

CRITERIA FOR COMPETITIVE APPLICATIONS

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

  • Conservation Outcomes: Demonstrate how project activities contribute to the overall Forestland Stewards forest health, water and species goals. Those that make the strongest and most deliberate link will be more competitive. All applications must include specific quantitative performance metrics that will be tracked and measured to evaluate the success of the project.

  • Timing of Implementation: Ability to begin implementation this year and achieve significant outcomes within 1-2 years, with opportunities for longer-term outcomes that can be facilitated through near-term investment.

  • Funding Need:  Establish a clear need for the funds being requested, and demonstrate that activities would not move forward absent funding from Forestland Stewards.

  • Landscape Context: Describe how proposed activities will expand on new or existing restoration and conservation initiatives to maximize large-scale ecosystem function; such as expansion of an anchor area and connection of remnant stands by corridors.

  • Critical Species Benefits:  Describe any significant benefits to at-risk forest and freshwater species, such as ground nesting birds, songbirds (e.g. Cerulean Warbler), mussels, and amphibians, referencing any species recovery plans or other conservation plans outlining species goals as appropriate.

  • Partnerships: Demonstrate the ability to involve a range of public/private stakeholders in the area to successfully implement and maintain the project, and create opportunities to attract additional resources to the project.

  • Cost-effectiveness: Present a clear and cost-effective budget. Preference will be given to those projects that can leverage funds from a broad range of sources to meet or exceed the minimum 1:1 match requirement, and promote innovative and cost-effective approaches.

  • Technical Merit: Demonstrate that the project is/will formally engage appropriate technical expertise and assistance throughout project planning, design and implementation to ensure projects are technically-sound and feasible. We recommend that applications be shared with the appropriate State Forester and NRCS State Conservationist for input and guidance before submission.

  • Monitoring:  Provide a plan for monitoring progress during and after the proposed project period to track project success and address new challenges and opportunities as they arise. Applicants should budget time and resources to complete this task during the project period if not already covered through existing responsibilities.

  • Long-term Sustainability: Describe how the project will be maintained to ensure ecosystem benefits are achieved and sustained over time. This should include how future funding will be secured to implement necessary long-term monitoring and maintenance activities.

  • Past Success: Demonstrate a proven track record of applicant and partnership success in implementing conservation practices with specific, measurable results.
  • Ancillary Benefits: Describe any ancillary benefits that may result from the project, (e.g.,  creates a replicable model for landowners; establishes methods that can be shared with other practitioners; creates new partnerships; supports new ecosystem markets, etc.).

ELIGIBILITY GUIDELINES 

  • Eligible applicants include: non-profit 501(c) organizations; federal, state, tribal, and local governments; academic institutions; and private entities.
  • Projects should have a match of at least 1:1 cash or in-kind, but larger match ratios and matching fund contributions from a diversity of partners are encouraged and will be more competitive* (for more information on NFWF’s match policy, click Here);

  • Projects must direct the majority of grant funding toward on-the-ground forest habitat restoration/enhancement.
  • Grantees may only use grant funds for indirect costs if the grantee organization has a federally-approved indirect rate AND, indirect costs do not exceed 15 percent of the total grant request (even when the federally-approved rate is greater than 15 percent).
  • Proposals must include a map, outlining the project's location within the Cumberland Plateau; the extent of remnant shortleaf and proximity of remnant stands to one another; public lands either at site location or in close proximity to site; characterization of any private land ownership around the site; and the watershed and water resources in the immediate area.
  • Letters documenting the support/contributions of all other project partners are strongly encouraged.
  • Grant awards may support projects with a project period of up to two years; however, significant project deliverables and outcomes are expected to be achieved in year one.
  • If applicable, successful applicants will be required to provide sufficient documentation that the project expects to receive or has received all necessary permits and clearances to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), Endangered Species Act (ESA), and any other Federal, state or local ordinances.

INELIGIBLE USE OF GRANT FUNDS

  • Funds granted under this program may not be used to support political advocacy, lobbying or litigation.

  • Grantees may not use grant funds to support ongoing efforts to comply with legal requirements (e.g., permit conditions, mitigation, settlement agreements) of any local, state or federal permit. However, grant funds may be used to support projects that enhance or improve upon existing baseline compliance efforts.

HOW TO APPLY

1. Go to www.nfwf.org/easygrants. If you are a new Easygrants user, please register. If you are already a registered user, use your existing login.

2. Select Cumberland Plateau-Southern Appalachians Fund 2013” from the “Funding Opportunity” list.

3. Follow the instructions to complete your application. Once you get started, you may save your application in progress and return another time to complete and submit it.

All proposals must be submitted to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation via Easygrants by 11:59pm (CST) on June 18, 2013, for consideration. 

QUESTIONS?

For questions about funding priorities and projects, please contact Suzanne Sessine (suzanne.sessine@nfwf.org).