Gulf Coast Conservation Grants Program 2017 Request for Proposals

Full Proposal Due Date: Thursday, January 26, 2017 by 11:59 PM Eastern Time

OVERVIEW

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) is soliciting proposals to support conservation projects that enhance coastal ecosystems of the Gulf of Mexico and bolster priority fish and wildlife populations, while strengthening resilience within the coastal region. The Gulf Coast Conservation Grants Program (GCCGP) is a competitive grants program that supports priority conservation needs of the Gulf Coast that are not otherwise expected to be funded under NFWF’s Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund or other funding opportunities associated with the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

The program seeks to build and maintain the resilience of the Gulf Coast’s ecosystems, living resources and communities by supporting critical gaps in conservation and catalyzing conservation solutions through strategic planning, innovation and technology that can be applied at a landscape scale. Specific priorities focus on strengthening coastal resilience; advancing conservation and management on private lands for wildlife and water quality; and conserving living resources by protecting and accelerating the recovery of key species dependent on the Gulf, including coastal birds, sea turtles, marine mammals, and oysters.

This program’s overall annual funding level is approximately $3 - $5 million and individual grant awards range typically between $50,000 and $250,000.

The GCCGP is made available with major funding provided by the Shell Marine Habitat Program, Southern Company’s Power of Flight Program, Sea World’s Ocean Health Initiative, U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and other sources.

GEOGRAPHIC FOCUS

The GCCGP focuses on the coastal areas highlighted in green in the map below and coastal waters adjacent to Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.

gccgp map.jpg 

PROGRAM PRIORITIES

All proposals must specifically address how projects will directly and measurably contribute to accomplishing one or more of the broad conservation goals with specific priorities outlined below.

Proposals also should demonstrate specifically how project activities advance established conservation strategies’ implementation, including, but not limited to, federal species recovery plans, regional bird conservation plans, and state wildlife action plans.

In 2017, the Gulf Coast Conservation Grants Program seeks projects addressing the following priorities (projects can pursue multiple categories):

  1. Strengthening Coastal Resilience
    Increase the resilience of coastal ecosystems and communities through the following strategies:
    • Restore coastal and near-shore habitats (i.e., living shorelines, oyster reefs, coastal marsh, wetlands and maritime forest) along coastal Louisiana and the upper coast of Texas. Proposals should clearly describe how the project will reduce local communities’ vulnerability to coastal storms, sea level rise, and associated threats, while benefitting critical fish and wildlife habitat. Proposals should also include whether there is an existing plan identifying the project or location as a priority for improving coastal resilience;
    • Develop or accelerate comprehensive, landscape-scale planning and coordination that identify priorities for promoting resilience in priority coastal watershed systems. Projects should be collaborative and include input from the relevant stakeholders in the watershed. It is recognized that significant planning is underway at the regional and state level (e.g., as required by the RESTORE Act or the Natural Resource Damage program). This funding priority is intended to complement – not duplicate – such planning by developing action plans that identify specific projects necessary to achieve sustainable outcomes for select landscapes across the Gulf that may guide future investments from the larger funding programs. Entities considering such a funding request are encouraged to discuss the project with NFWF in advance of submitting a full proposal.
  2. Advancing Conservation and Management on Private Lands
    Enhance conservation on private lands along the Gulf Coast to benefit wildlife and water quality through the following strategies:
    • Provide strategic outreach and technical assistance to private landowners, with particular focus on increasing enrollment in the NRCS Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) Wetlands Reserve Easement option, or enhancing existing enrollments. Proposals should describe how proposed work fits within and will coordinate with other private lands work in the area, including appropriate state and local NRCS offices;
    • Support the purchase of conservation easements on wetlands or working lands that will result in significant wildlife and water quality benefits. Projects must demonstrate the most beneficial management practices for wildlife will be implemented and maintained over time;
    • Improve wildlife habitat and water quality on working lands or other private lands along the Gulf coast by creating or enhancing wetlands, restoring streams, or reducing sedimentation. Priority will be placed on projects contributing towards goals outlined in watershed plans in Alabama, Florida, or Mississippi. Applicants should have demonstrated experience working collaboratively with private landowners and are expected to leverage appropriate USDA funds (e.g., Environmental Quality Incentives Program, Conservation Reserve Program).
  3. Conserving Living Resources
    Bolster populations of key species dependent on the Gulf Coast through the following strategies:
    • Migratory Birds
      • Restore and/or enhance critical stopover or important rookery habitat for migratory birds across the Gulf. Sites selected must be identified in a state or federally supported plan (e.g., Partners in Flight, Important Bird Areas, Joint Ventures, species plans) as significant for priority waterbird, shorebird, or neotropical migrant populations;
      • Support critical assessments that fill in key knowledge gaps or information needs to prioritize and sustain restoration action to benefit Gulf coast bird populations. Projects should include a plan for sharing information, and describe the potential pathways for being scaled-up across the region. Projects must demonstrate support for the project from, or describe a practical process for engaging, intended users;
      • Fill key information gaps in species’ migrations and distribution using electronic monitoring tracking systems along the Gulf Coast.
    • Sea Turtles
      • Provide incentives that facilitate proper use and compliance with Turtle Exclusion Devices (TEDs) to reduce unintended by-catch of sea turtles.
    • Marine Mammals
      • Support capacity development and coordination of the marine mammal stranding network, focusing on coastal Louisiana.
    • Oysters
      • Support pilot projects that demonstrate new approaches to accelerate or improve efficiencies in large-scale oyster restoration. Projects should include a plan for sharing information and describe potential pathways for scaling-up across the region. Projects must demonstrate support for the project from, or describe a practical process for engaging, intended users.

PROJECT METRICS

To better gauge progress on individual grants and to ensure greater consistency of project data provided by multiple grants, the Gulf Coast Conservation Grants Program has a list of metrics in Easygrants 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 Suzanne Sessine to discuss acceptable alternatives.

Project Activity ​Recommended Metric Additional Guidance
​Land, wetland restoration ​Acres restored ​In the notes section of this metric please indicate what species is/are benefitting, and the habitat type(s) being restored.
​Improved management practices ​Acres under improved management ​In the notes section of this metric please indicate the type of habitat receiving ongoing active management to improve habitat quality and the targeted species.
​Improved management practices ​Miles under improved management ​In the notes section of this metric please indicate the type of habitat receiving ongoing active management to improve habitat quality and the targeted species.
​Conservation easements ​Acres protected under easement ​In the notes section, please indicate if acres protected are enrolled in the NRCS Agricultural Conservation Easements Program.
​Outreach/ Education/ Technical Assistance ​# individuals reached by outreach, training, or technical assistance activities ​In the notes section of this metric, please specify the type of activity and target audience.
​Outreach/ Education/ Technical Assistance ​# individuals demonstrating a minimum level of behavior change ​In the notes section of this metrics please specify the target audience and the behavior that is changed (e.g. # of private landowners enrolled in cost-share or stewardship programs).
​Research ​# studies completed whose findings are used to adapt management/ inform mgmt decisions ​Enter the number of studies or assessments that will be completed by the end of the grant period.
​Building institutional capacity ​# of organizations contributing to goals ​Enter the number of organizations or stakeholders who became active partners in the initiative as a result of the project.
​Management or Governance Planning ​# plans developed with input from multiple stakeholders ​Enter the number of plans developed that had input from multiple stakeholders. In the notes section, please indicate the geographic unit of focus for the plan (i.e., watershed, landscape).

ELIGIBILITY

  • Eligible and Ineligible Entities
    • Eligible applicants include non-profit 501(c) organizations, U.S. Federal government agencies, state government agencies, county and municipal governments, Indian tribes and educational institutions.
    • Ineligible applicants include 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 Gulf Coast Conservation Grants Program is expected to award approximately $3 - $5 million in grant funds in 2017. Grant awards will typically range from $50,000 - $250,000, depending on the overall scale of the project. Requests greater than $250,000 may be considered where the scale of environmental benefits warrants such consideration and aligns with appropriate funding sources. In such cases, applicants are strongly encouraged to coordinate with NFWF in advance to discuss whether the proposed work warrants an exception to the typical funding cap.

Project Period: Anticipated completion time for funded projects typically will be 12-24 months following finalization of a grant agreement. If the project period exceeds 12 months, significant project deliverables and outcomes are expected to be achieved in year one. Projects may be a discrete part of a longer-term project, provided there are definable outcomes for the proposed phase of the overall effort. The project narrative must include a clear timetable or schedule for project completion.

Project start and end dates should define the period during which all proposed work is accomplished, all requested funds are spent and all matching funds are spent or applied.

Match Requirement: Projects must have a minimum match of 1:1 cash or contributed goods and services, but larger match ratios and matching fund contributions from a diversity of partners are encouraged and will be more competitive. Please note: for projects on private lands, applicants are strongly encouraged to provide non-federal match to be eligible for NRCS funding consideration. Eligible matching sources can include cash, in-kind donations, and/or volunteer labor directly related to the proposed project.

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 objectives of our funding partners and 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 outlined in the Request for Proposal.

Conservation Plan and Context – Project advances an existing conservation plan or strategy and addresses a gap not otherwise being addressed, nor has the potential to be addressed, through other Gulf Coast resources, including the NFWF Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund. Proposal should describe how the project complements and helps advance larger efforts led by Federal and state agencies.

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 activities are technically-sound and feasible.

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).

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.)

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

Communication – Project includes a detailed plan to communicate information about the project to appropriate audiences.

Funding Need – Project establishes a clear need for the funds being requested, and demonstrates that activities would not move forward absent funding.

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.

Past Success – Applicant has a proven track record of success in implementing conservation practices with specific, measurable results.

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 and program partners the right and authority to publicize the project and NFWF’s/program partners’ 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.

Federal Funding Requirements – Projects selected to receive Federal funding may be subject to requirements under the National Environmental Policy Act, Endangered Species Act, 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. Federally-funded projects must operate in compliance with the OMB Uniform Guidance as applicable to the applicant.

TIMELINE

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

​Full Proposal Due Date ​Thursday, January 26th 2017, 11:59 pm ET
​Review Period ​February - May 2017
​Awards Announced ​June 2017

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.
  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:

Programmatic priorities and project-related questions:

Suzanne Sessine
Program Director, Southern Coastal Programs
202-857-0166
Suzanne.sessine@nfwf.org

Application process and on-line application assistance:

Lindsay Vacek
Coordinator, Southern Regional Office
202-857-0166
Lindsay.vacek@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

 

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