Los Padres National Forest - Wildfires Restoration Grant Program

2017 REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS 

Pre-Proposal Due Date:   January 6, 2017 by 5:00pm Pacific Time
Full Proposal Due Date:   February 20, 2017 by 5:00pm Pacific Time

OVERVIEW

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) in close cooperation with its federal partner, the Los Padres National Forest (LPNF), is pleased to announce the Wildfires Restoration Grant Program for the recovery of lands and watersheds degraded from the influences of past wildfire events. This funding opportunity will address the impact of three wildfires, the Zaca (2007), Piru (2003), and Jesusita (2009).

The goals of this competitive grant program are to (1) improve the LPNF’s capacity to identify and approach resource management issues through support of projects that address the impacts to the watersheds and ecosystems affected by these fires; (2) provide sustainable and lasting ecological benefits; (3) promote ecological resilience to future wildfire events; and (4) inform efficient post-fire restoration through innovation. In FY 2017, approximately $3 million in restoration funds will be available to implement restoration actions within the watersheds affected by these fires.  Successful proposals will address one or more of the goals and priorities described below.

GEOGRAPHIC FOCUS

This grant program focuses on watersheds and ecosystems affected by the Zaca, Piru, and Jesusita fires. Figure 1 below identifies the extent of those fires in the context of the Los Padres National Forest, with more detailed maps identifying the specific watersheds that were impacted by each fire provided at the end of this document. Project activities are eligible in the affected watersheds, provided the activity has a direct nexus to a need resulting from, or exacerbated by, the fires. Program_RFP_web.jpg
Figure 1. Regional map of Los Padres National Forest with Zaca, Piru, and Jesusita fires

PROGRAM PRIORITIES

Grant funding will be awarded to planning and/or implementation projects designed to advance restoration or ecological resilience on the LPNF. To be eligible for funding:
  • Projects must conduct, or inform, the improvement, protection, or rehabilitation of ecosystems and watersheds within and/or adjacent to U.S. Forest Service administered land impacted by the designated fire scars.
  • Project descriptions must clearly describe the need for the proposed project as rendered necessary by the impacts of the fire(s) where activities are focused.
  • Project outcomes and deliverables must provide a direct and practical contribution toward LPNF fire recovery program goals.
Eligible projects include a wide scope of potential activities, across a variety of strategies and focus. A complete description of the goals and priorities of this fire recovery program can be found within the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Business Plan for Los Padres National Forest (August 2016), however general strategy descriptions and some examples of projects of interest by the LPNF for this funding opportunity are highlighted below.

Forest/Upland Restoration and Management
These include projects to: (1) locate and/or remove invasive species; (2) harvest native seed, propagate native plants, and/or revegetate landscapes to restore vegetative communities to a more natural population and species distribution; (3) restore age class structure and reduce fuels to minimize risks from catastrophic wildfire; and (4) identify critical resource concerns.
In particular:
  • Rare plant species inventory and management planning
  • Invasive vegetation inventory and management planning (Zaca and Jesusita fire scars)
  • Removal of invasive upland vegetation through non-chemical methods
  • Big Pine Mountain (Zaca Fire) evaluation of restoration potential with examination of feasibility for restoration actions in Designated Wilderness Areas
  • Seed collection for future restoration activities (Zaca Fire)
Stream/Riparian Restoration Management
These include projects to: (1) improve aquatic organism passage and/or reduce barriers; (2) remove invasive species threatening aquatic habitat or sensitive species; (3) evaluation and/or restoration of riparian corridor vegetation; and (4) maintain and improve existing in-stream or riparian habitat.
In particular:
  • Evaluation, planning, or implementation for the removal of aquatic invasive fauna, e.g. crayfish, bullfrog, or centrachid fish species
  • Tamarisk removal – Mono Creek and Indian Creek watersheds; Santa Ynez basin
  • Riparian corridor restoration evaluation and/or implementation – Alkalai Canyon and Manzana Creek watersheds
Species Management
These include projects specifically designed for the benefit of threatened and endangered species, or species of special concern, including, but not limited to, steelhead trout, California condor, big cone Douglas-fir, southwestern willow flycatcher, least bell’s vireo, and arroyo toad. Restoration activities that benefit a suite of species or community are also applicable. Projects may include: (1) evaluate and/or restore or improve habitat specific to species, or suite of species, of interest; (2) support species reintroduction and/or improve existing populations; (3) increase understanding of species/population needs within fire affected watersheds; and (4) inform and educate the public about the issues concerning these species and actions that can be taken to protect them.
In particular:
  • Microtrash clean-ups
  • California condor population management support activities 
  • Water quantity and/or water quality enhancement to support native aquatic populations
Non-natural Features Management
This strategy includes projects to improve non-natural features on LPNF land such as roads, trails, or designated fuel breaks. Any projects proposed must be able to illustrate a benefit to watershed restoration and recovery or ecosystem improvement. Projects may include: (1) maintenance to degraded system trails; (2) restoration of lands impacted from past fire management activities; (3) implementation of best management practices to reduce invasive species, and/or pollutant loads (particularly those from sediment/erosion); and (4) decommissioning and restoration of non-USFS approved user-created trails.
In particular:
  • Evaluation of Forest Service roads and recovery planning
  • Evaluation of fire response areas (i.e. roads, fuel breaks, staging locations, etc. used during fire suppression activities) and recovery planning
  • Installation of trail barriers to prevent unauthorized vehicle access
  • Educational signage for the interpretation of fires and their impact on the landscape
The above program priorities provide highlighted examples to guide applicants in addressing the immediate needs as identified by LPNF staff. However, the program welcomes and encourages all proposals that meet the goals and priorities of fire recovery of the Zaca, Piru, and Jesusita fires, particularly those that implement a multi-resource holistic approach to post-fire restoration, and/or provide additional benefits toward long-term effective management at a forest- or region-wide scale. Applicants are encouraged to review the Los Padres National Forest Business Plan or contact NFWF program manager, Jim Bond, to ensure applicability of project proposals with program objectives and current needs on the LPNF.

Multi-year projects are eligible and encouraged to apply to this program in phases; however, this Restoration Program is not an applicable funding source for start-up or research projects that will not provide direct benefits to the LPNF upon project completion or within 5 years. Grant recipients will be required to demonstrate the ability to fulfill the Restoration Program’s contractual requirements (as described on page 7 of this RFP) to acquire applicable landowner permissions and to ensure environmental and heritage resource compliance, as well as any regulatory permits or approvals, including National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA*) requirements. Regulatory compliance measures should be included in all budget and timelines as part of submitted proposals.

*NEPA compliance may require significant time and resources to complete. Projects that propose on-the-ground actions for which NEPA processes have not yet been completed should be brought forward and discussed with NFWF program manager, Jim Bond, prior to submitting a proposal to evaluate implications to scope, budget, and timelines.

PROJECT METRICS

To better gauge progress on individual grants and to ensure greater consistency of project data provided by multiple grants, the Zaca and Piru Fires Restoration Grant Program has a list of predefined selectable metrics in NFWF’s online application platform (Easygrants) for reporting.  Proposals to this grant program will be evaluated in two stages, the Pre-Proposal review and the Full Proposal review. Applicants invited to submit Full Proposals will need to select only the most relevant metrics from the drop down list which will be provided in the Full Proposal Application (all possible program metrics are shown in the table below). If you do not believe an applicable metric has been provided, please contact Jim Bond to discuss acceptable alternatives.

​​Project Activity
Recommended Metric Additional Guidance
​Volunteer Participation ​Capacity, Outreach, Incentives – Building Institutional Capacity – # volunteers participating ​Enter the number of volunteers participating in projects
​Outreach/Education ​Capacity, Outreach, Incentives – Outreach/Education/Technical Assistance - # people reached ​Enter the number of people reached by outreach, training, or technical assistance activities
​Research ​Planning, Research, Monitoring – Research - # studies completed to inform mgmt. ​Enter the number of studies completed whose findings are used to adapt mgmt/inform mgmt. decisions
​Restoration Planning,  Design,  Permitting ​Planning, Research, Monitoring – Research - # E&D plans developed ​Enter the number of Engineering and Design plans, and/or compliance documents developed. Generally there will be 1 per project.
​Invasives Removal ​Habitat Restoration – Removal of Invasives – acres restored ​Enter acres restored
​In-stream Habitat Improvement ​Habitat Restoration – Instream Restoration – miles restored ​Enter miles restored
​Restoration of Aquatic Connectivity ​Habitat Restoration -  Fish Passage Improvements - # passage barriers rectified ​In the notes section of this metric please indicate what type of barrier is being removed (i.e. dam, culvert, etc.)
​Restoration of Aquatic Connectivity ​Habitat Restoration – Fish Passage Improvements - Miles of stream opened ​Enter the number of miles of stream opened to fish passage
​Riparian restoration ​Habitat Restoration – Riparian Restoration – Acres restored ​Enter the number of acres restored
​Wetland restoration ​Habitat Restoration - Wetland Restoration - Acres restored ​Enter the number of acres restored
​Reforestation and Restoration of Forest Vegetation ​Habitat Restoration – Land Restoration – acres restored ​Enter acres restored through practices such as revegetation, thinning, mortality removal, or prescribed burns
​Trail Improvements ​Habitat Management – Green Infrastructure – miles of trails improved ​Enter the number of miles of trails improved
​Erosion control ​Habitat Management – BMP Implementation for Nutrient or Sediment Reduction – Lbs of sediment prevented from entering the system annually ​Enter the amount of sediment prevented from entering the system annually
​Trees Planted ​Habitat Management – Green Infrastructure - # trees planted ​Enter the number of trees planted
​Plant Cultivation ​Habitat Restoration – Plant Cultivation – Seedlings propagated ​Enter the number of seedlings propagated
​Seed Harvesting ​Habitat Restoration – Seed Harvesting – lbs harvested ​Enter the number of pounds of seeds collected
​Fuel Break Management ​Habitat Management – Improved Management Practices – Acres of public land under improved management ​Enter the number of fuel break acres under improved management. This may include new fuel break development or maintenance of existing fuel breaks.

ELIGIBILITY

Eligible and Ineligible Entities
  • Eligible applicants include: non-profit 501(c)(3) organizations, local and municipal governments, resource conservation districts, state and federal agencies, Indian tribes, educational institutions, mutual water companies, irrigation districts, and businesses.
  • Ineligible applicants include: 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 finance compliance with another regulatory obligation, including permit conditions, and mitigation agreements. However, grant funds may be used to support projects that enhance or improve upon existing baseline compliance efforts. 

FUNDING AVAILABILITY AND MATCH

The Zaca, Piru, and Jesusita Fires Restoration Grant Program will operate from 2016 through the end of fiscal year 2019. The program will award approximately $3 million through this funding opportunity, with subsequent award amounts likely to increase in following years. The following are key elements of this funding opportunity:
  • Grant awards will range in size from $25,000 to $500,000 per project, although more funding could be allocated for projects with large benefits or are multi-year projects that implement annual restoration and/or conservation actions.
  • The ratio of matching contributions offered is considered during the review process, and projects are expected to meet or exceed a 50% match ratio to be competitive. The strongest projects will meet or exceed a 1:1 match ratio. Projects not meeting the match expectations will be considered on a limited case-by-case basis. Eligible match can include non-federal cash or in-kind contributions, such as staff and volunteer time, work performed, materials and services donated, cash or other tangible contributions to the project objectives and outcomes. The cost of recent land or water acquisition or easement may also qualify as match for a project involving work at the acquired site.
  • Grants for single projects are typically awarded to projects that can be completed within 18 months. Some larger-scale projects may warrant consecutive multi-year funding requests. These requests will be considered on a year-by-year basis and must describe what will be accomplished during each project phase to qualify for consideration.  
  • NFWF will not provide reimbursement for any project expenditures prior to the grant award project period and will not be liable for such expenditures. However, to help the applicant comply with match requirements, successful grant applicants may be authorized to capture matching contributions directly related to the project proposal for a period up to one year prior to the date of submission of the proposal to NFWF.
  • Projects that demonstrate strong partnerships and have matching contributions from various partners/donors are strongly encouraged.
  • Donated contractor services can be valued at current market rates, but general volunteer labor must be valued at no more than $23.56/hour. Matching contributions do not need to be fully secured prior to submitting a grant proposal, but should have a demonstrable likelihood of being secured during the project period to assure the project can be completed as proposed.
  • NFWF does not fund political advocacy or litigation of any kind.

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 criteria below.

Pre-proposals and Full Proposals will be reviewed and evaluated by a Proposal Review Committee made up of representatives from LPNF, NFWF, and other experts as needed. Grant awards will be made by NFWF to successful applicants. Organizations are allowed to submit multiple proposals for funding consideration. 

Projects will be evaluated by:
Consistency with Los Padres National Forest Goals and Priorities. The proposal is consistent with the program goals of the Los Padres National Forest as described in this RFP and associated Business Plan, and Southern California National Forests Land Management Plan, including - Part 2 Los Padres National Forest Strategy), and the project deliverable(s) clearly contribute to a practical advancement toward those goals. Projects that address identified recovery goals for the Zaca, Piru, and Jesusita fires, with the secondary benefit of informing effective management and post-fire restoration on a long-term, forest- or region-wide scale are welcome.

Consistency with over-arching Federal or State Conservation Initiatives. If applicable, proposals may also address goals, priorities, and recommendations in context with broader regional conservation efforts such as the South-Central/Southern California Coast Steelhead Recovery Management Plan or California Condor Recovery Plan, Third Revision. Proposals should describe specifically how the project aligns with complementary conservation initiatives and reference appropriate documentation.

Benefit to Species. The proposal addresses a recovery or restoration need for steelhead, California condor, big cone Douglas-fir, or other threatened, endangered, or sensitive species occurring on the Los Padres National Forest and will help remediate the effects of the fires of interest on those species or their habitat.

Technical Merit. Objectives, approach, and scope of work are clear and technically sound; the project is both feasible and appropriate for the site and can be completed on schedule given reasonably foreseeable constraints (weather conditions, planting seasons, operational conditions).   The project description is sufficient for reviewers to fully understand and evaluate the technical merits of the project (project plans, designs with specific sites, activities identified).
  
Cost Effectiveness. The budget is detailed and the project is cost effective.  Total cost is reasonable based on costs of similar project types and commensurate with projected benefits.   

Community and Partner Involvement. There is demonstrated local area stakeholder support for the project (number, diversity of partners, matching contributions, contact information/letters demonstrating involvement and/or support).  
Organization Qualifications. The project manager, principal investigator(s), and other key personnel have experience and expertise required for the project, and individual roles and responsibilities are well defined and appropriate.  The proposal demonstrates relevant field experience, completed projects, published reports, or other materials.  When necessary, licensed professionals are identified for design, construction, or oversight of on-the-ground activities.

Consideration to Environmental and Heritage Resource Compliance Requirements. The proposal effectively illustrates an understanding of their project in context with expected environmental and heritage resource compliance, and adequately accounts for how they will be addressed.  If appropriate, the budget includes a line item specific to environmental and heritage resource compliance costs that is reasonable and appropriate.  When necessary, licensed professionals or other contractors are identified for the completion of components of the environmental compliance process (i.e. cultural resources consultant, NEPA, etc.).

Budget. Costs are allowable, reasonable and budgeted in accordance with NFWF’s Detailed Budget Instructions cost categories.  Federally-funded projects must be in compliance with Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Uniform Guidance as applicable (OMB Uniform Guidance).

The project budget must accurately reflect the scope of work including the implementation of the proposed monitoring plan and environmental compliance costs. 

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.

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.

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.)

Quality Assurance. If a project involves significant monitoring, data collection or data use, grantees may 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.

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.

TIMELINE

Dates of activities are subject to change.  Please check the Program page of the NFWF website for the most current dates and information http://www.nfwf.org/lpnf .

​​A​pplicant Open House ​December 15, 2016, 3:00pm Pacific Time
​Bren Hall, Room 1414
​University of California, Santa Barbara
​Parking: Lot 10, Lot 6
​Campus Map
Applicant Webinar ​December 16, 2016, 2:00pm Pacific Time
​check program webpage for details
​Pre-Proposal Due Date ​January 6, 2017 by 5:00pm Pacific Time
Invitations for Full Proposals Sent ​January 20, 2017
​Full Proposal Due Date ​February 20, 2017 by 5:00pm Pacific Time
Review Period ​February-April 2017
Awards Announced April 2017 (Date TBD)


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. Please be sure to disable the pop-up blocker on your internet browser prior to beginning the application process.

2.  Once on your homepage, click the “Apply for Funding” button and select “Los Padres National Forest – Zaca and Piru Fires Restoration Program” 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 at http://www.nfwf.org/lpnf .

A Tip Sheet is available for quick reference while you are working through your application. This document can be downloaded at http://www.nfwf.org/lpnf.  Additional information to support the application process can be accessed on the NFWF website’s “Applicant Information” page (http://www.nfwf.org/whatwedo/grants/applicants/Pages/home.aspx).

For more information or questions about this RFP, please contact: 
Jim Bond
Manager, Southern California Forests
Jim.Bond@nfwf.org
415-243-3107

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 you are applying to, and a description of the issue.

Zaca_RFP_web.jpg
Figure 2. Zaca Fire boundary

Piru_RFP_web.jpg
Figure 3. Piru Fire boundary

Jesusita_RFP_web.jpg
Figure 4. Jesusita Fire boundary.





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