Los Padres National Forest – Wildfires Restoration Grant Program 2018 Request for Proposals

Pre-Proposal Due Date:   January 25, 2018 by 11:59 PM Eastern Time
Full Proposal Due Date:   March 8, 2018 by 11:59 PM Eastern 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 Piru (2003), Zaca (2007), and Jesusita (2009) fires.

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 2018, approximately $2 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.

2018rfp-map1Figure 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 National Forest System lands 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.

Competitive proposals will address at least one of the priority subjects described below. Eligible projects include a wide scope of potential activities, across a variety of strategies and focus. A description of the goals and priorities of this fire recovery program can be found within the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Los Padres National Forest Business Plan (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 natural population and species distribution, where appropriate; and (3) restore age class structure and reduce fuels to minimize risks from catastrophic wildfire.

In particular:

  • Non-native invasive vegetation removal and monitoring
  • Restoration of mixed conifer, chaparral shrublands, and wooded riparian communities, where appropriate
  • Seed collection for future restoration activities

Stream/Riparian Restoration Management

These include projects to: (1) improve hydrologic connectivity and aquatic organism passage; (2) remove invasive species threatening aquatic habitat or sensitive species; (3) evaluate and/or restore or enhance riparian corridor vegetation and floodplain; and (4) create, maintain and/or improve existing in-stream, aquatic, or riparian habitat.

In particular:

  • Aquatic invasive vegetation species removal and monitoring, with particular focus on tamarisk
  • Evaluation, planning, and implementation for short-term and long-term solutions of fire-related legacy and chronic sediment aggradation at stream crossings, particularly within the Santa Ynez watershed. This work could include professional assistance for the development and processing of 401/404 general permits or other regulatory compliance measures

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 red-legged frog, arroyo toad, southwestern willow flycatcher, California condor, least Bell’s vireo, and big cone Douglas-fir. 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) increase understanding of species/population needs within fire affected watersheds; and (3) inform and educate the public about the issues concerning these species and actions that can be taken to protect them.

In particular:

  • Educational signage for the interpretation of species on the forest and how they coexist with and/or are affected by these wildfires

Non-natural Features Management

This strategy includes projects to improve non-natural features on LPNF land such as roads, trails, infrastructure routes, 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, restoration, and prevention of non-USFS approved user-created trails.

In particular:

  • Improvement of Forest Service roads and trails
  • Installation of trail barriers that fit the natural Forest setting and prevent unauthorized vehicle access
  • Educational signage for the interpretation of these fires and their impact, influence, and relationship to LPNF landscapes

Other Relevant and Beneficial Project Proposals

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. For an expanded discussion of the program goals and priorities, please review NFWF’s Los Padres National Forest Business Plan.

Applicants are strongly encouraged to contact NFWF program manager, Jim Bond, prior to submitting your proposal to discuss ideas, seek relevant project-related information such as priority locations, and ensure applicability of project proposals with program objectives and needs of the LPNF and NFWF.

Multi-year projects may be appropriate but applicants may be asked to request funds through 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 8 of this RFP) to acquire applicable 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 may consider including NEPA tasks within their overall project scope. Projects where NEPA tasks are expected should be 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 LPNF Wildfire 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 select only the most relevant metrics from the drop down list 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
​Research ​Planning, Research, Monitoring – Research – Acres assessed for improved management ​Enter the number of acres assessed
​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 via dam removal, bridge and culvert removal, and/or installation of fish passage structures ​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 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 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 trail improved
​Road Improvements ​Habitat Conservation - BMP implementation for road improvements ​Miles of road 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 - # of 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, may be estimated from bushels of cones collected
​Fuel Break Management ​Habitat Management - Improved Managedment 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, U.S. Federal government agencies, state government agencies, local governments, municipal governments, Indian tribes, and educational institutions

  • Ineligible applicants include for-profit businesses, unincorporated individuals and international organizations are generally considered ineligible as an applicant. Exceptions may be considered on a case-by-case basis.

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 Los Padres National Forest Wildfires Restoration Grant Program will operate from 2017 through the end of May 2020, however all projects funded through this round will be expected to close by summer of 2019. The program expects to award approximately $2 million in 2018. The following are key elements of this funding opportunity:

  • Grant awards will range in size from $25,000 to $250,000 per project.
  • 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.
  • All project costs and matching contributions must be expended within the project period of performance.  Projects awarded through this funding opportunity are expected to be completed by summer 2019. Some larger-scale projects may warrant multiple funding requests. These requests will be considered per funding cycle. Multi-funding cycle projects must describe expectations for the project for each funding phase to qualify for consideration. For more guidance on project start and end dates, see Tip Sheet (link available in APPLICATION ASSISTANCE section below.)
  • 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.

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:

 Program Goals and Priorities - The proposal is consistent with the program goals of the Los Padres National Forest as described in this RFP and associated Restoration Strategy, 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.

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 plans or strategies 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.

Technical Merit - Project is technically sound and feasible, and the proposal sets forth a clear, logical and achievable work plan and timeline. The proposal illustrates relevant experience, and/or assurance to engage with appropriate technical experts to ensure activities are thoroughly and appropriately designed and executed.

Transferability - Project has potential and plan to transfer lessons learned to other communities or natural resource management applications, particularly in Southern California Forests, 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 and Project Documentation - 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. In addition, all projects will be expected to document relevant geospatial data associated with each activity or task performed, which will be delivered as part project reporting information provided to NFWF and the LPNF. Geospatial information will be consistent with established Forest Service geospatial data standards and format (e.g. data dictionaries, metadata formats).

Long-term Sustainability - Proposal should describe how outcomes and benefits are expected to be sustained over time, including long-term monitoring and maintenance activities.

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

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.)

OTHER

Budget – Costs are allowable, reasonable and budgeted in accordance with NFWF’s 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 actual costs necessary to complete all elements of the scope of work including any monitoring and environmental compliance costs. 

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 [including but not limited to 2 CFR 200 (Uniform Guidance)].  Please note that Federal wage provisions (Davis-Bacon or Service Contract Act) are applicable.  Davis-Bacon wage rates apply on all public works contracts in excess of $2,000 and Service Contract Act wage provisions apply to service contracts in excess of $2,500.

Publicity and Acknowledgment of Support – Award recipients will be required to grant NFWF and the ANF the right and authority to publicize the project and NFWF and ANF’s financial support for the grant in press releases, publications and other public communications. Recipients may also be asked to provide high-resolution (minimum 300 dpi) photographs, geospatial data, and project narratives depicting the project.

Receiving Award Funds – Award payments are primarily reimbursable. Projects may request funds for reimbursement at any time after completing a signed agreement with NFWF. A request of an advance of funds must be due to an imminent need of expenditure and must detail how the funds will be used and provide justification and a timeline for expected disbursement of these funds.

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), National Historic Preservation Act, and other applicable federal laws.  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 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.

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. NFWF strongly encourages applicants to conduct pre-application meetings with the appropriate administering agencies 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.

Federal Funding – Federally funded projects must operate in compliance with the OMB Uniform Guidance as applicable to the applicant. The availability of federal funds estimated in this solicitation is contingent upon the federal appropriations process. Funding decisions will be made based on level of funding and timing of when it is received by NFWF.

TIMELINE

Dates are subject to change. Please check the Program page​ of the NFWF website for the most current information.

​     ​          Applicant Webinar
 ​January 18, 2018           ​
​Pre-Proposal Due Date ​January 25, 2018
Invitations for Full Proposals Sent February 7, 2018
​Full Proposal Due Date ​March 8, 2018
Review Period ​Spring 2018
​Awards Announced Summer 2018​

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 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: 

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.

PROGRAM FOCUS WATERSHEDS

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