Pacific Southwest Fuels Management Strategic Investment Partnership 2017 Request for Proposals

Full Proposal Due Date:   Wednesday, July 12, 2017 by 11:59 PM EDT

OVERVIEW

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) is soliciting proposals to plan and implement fuels management projects on select National Forest System (NFS) lands within California. In our second year of partnership, the goal of the Pacific Southwest Fuels Management Strategic Investments Partnership (Fuels Partnership) is to identify and fund fuel management projects that reduce the risk of severe wildfire, protect ecological values of USFS restoration investments, and reduce the risk of damage to public and private improvements near USFS lands. A total of $1.4 million is available for this year. These funds are derived from USFS appropriations for fuels management. 

A century of widespread fire exclusion and changes in forest management have resulted in a buildup of surface fuels and the overstocking of California forests with trees and ladder fuels. The resulting forest health problems are widespread and increasing, affecting wildlife habitat, water quality and quantity and long-term soil productivity. The buildup of flammable vegetation due to past management, drought conditions, and insect and disease-related tree mortality have made managing fire riskier, more complex, and more costly. With climate and vegetation conditions contributing to longer annual fire seasons, agency capacity and resources for fire suppression to protect communities, natural resources and infrastructure are stretched thin. 

Properly designed and implemented fuels management treatments can decrease the intensity of future wildland fires and restore a healthier natural fire regime to support biodiverse forest ecosystems. Fuel management work in upper watersheds is used to maintain and protect important meadow and riparian habitats. Fuels management projects are designed to improve overall forest health, improving habitat for important species including Clark’s nutcracker and Northern goshawk. Some projects are designed to encourage maturation of old forest stands, which provide important habitat for Pacific fisher and California spotted owl. Other projects are designed to reintroduce natural fire into forest ecosystems, which has important benefits for fish and wildlife: the unique ecological process of wildfire recycles nutrients back into the soil and creates a post-fire mosaic of successional vegetative habitats that are important for wildlife mating and nesting. Many plants in fire-adapted forests, including the knobcone pine, Bishop pine, and Sargent cypress, have seed cones that require the heat of a fire to open; the seeds of others, including the Giant Sequoia, germinate best on burned or bare mineral soil.

GEOGRAPHIC FOCUS

The USFS has identified priority project areas in twelve National Forests within the Pacific Southwest Region: the Tahoe National Forest (NF), Modoc NF, San Bernardino NF, Lassen NF, Stanislaus NF, Klamath NF, Sierra NF, Six Rivers NFF, Angeles NF, Eldorado NF, Shasta-Trinity NF, and Plumas NF. Details on the fuel management needs in each respective forest are included in the appendix of this RFP. Note that the projects identified in the appendix of this RFP include opportunities to implement projects for which all planning and compliance have been completed, as well as opportunities to support planning and compliance work for projects that are still in development. However, we also invite other project ideas that are not necessarily identified in the appendix that may also advance fuels management projects which help reduce the threat of catastrophic wildfire and its impact on natural resources, and previous investments to improve natural resources on or adjacent to NFS lands.

PROGRAM PRIORITIES 

All proposals must address how they will implement or support planning for fuels management projects. An applicant may apply for funding to perform work on more than one project, but should submit a separate funding application for each project.  

PROJECT METRICS

To better gauge progress on individual grants and to ensure greater consistency of project data provided by multiple grants, the Fuels Partnership 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 the Western Forest Program Director to discuss acceptable alternatives.
 
​​Project A​ctivity Recommended Metric Additional Guidance
​Application of fuels management treatment prescription (mechanical/hand) ​Habitat Management: Improved management practices - # of acres Enter the number of acres treated with limbing / thinning / removal of vegetation. Treatment of areas that are impacted by disease or insect infestation should be captured under removal of infected individuals metric.
​Application of fuels management treatment prescription (prescribed burning) ​Habitat Management: BMP implementation for prescribed burns - # of acres ​Enter the number of acres where prescribed burning is implemented.
​Treatment or removal of insect or disease-affected trees ​Habitat Restoration: Removal of infected individuals - # of acres restored ​Enter the number of insect- or disease-affected acres treated with any treatment type (mechanical / hand / prescribed burning). This metric is intended to capture treatment activity for trees affected by disease or insect infestation. Treatment of non-diseased forest areas should be captured under one of the two Habitat Management metrics.
​Completion of tasks associated with planning and compliance ​Planning, Research, Monitoring: Research - # of studies reported to management ​Enter the number of studies / reports / deliverables completed whose findings are delivered to National Forest management​.

ELIGIBILITY

Eligible and Ineligible Entities
  • Eligible applicants include non-profit 501(c) organizations, U.S. Federal government agencies, state government agencies, local governments, municipal governments, Indian tribes, educational institutions, 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 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 Fuels Partnership intends to award $1.4 million to support fuel management planning and implementation projects in this funding cycle. The following are key elements of this funding opportunity:
  • Grants will be considered in any amount between $50,000 and $500,000. There is no limit on the number of grants that will be issued.
  • The ratio of matching contributions offered is considered during the review process, and projects are expected to meet or exceed a 50 percent 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. 
  • 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 will be authorized to capture match funding specifically related to the project proposal for a period that is no longer than one year prior to the date of submission  of the project proposal application to NFWF.
  • Grants for single projects are typically awarded for projects that can be completed within 36 months from the date of award. 
  • Projects that demonstrate strong partnerships and that have matching funds from various partners/donors to support project costs are strongly encouraged.
  • Donated contractor services can be valued at current market rates, but general volunteer labor must be valued at no more than $22.14/hour. Matching funds 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.
  • Grant recipients will be required to demonstrate an ability to fulfill the program’s contractual requirements (as described on pages 2-26 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 requirements. Regulatory compliance measures should be included in all budget and timelines as part of submitted proposals.
  • NFWF does not fund political advocacy or litigation of any kind.
  • Certain funds may not be counted as match for this funding opportunity. 
    • Eligible sources of match funding include local or state government agencies, Indian tribes, educational institutions, businesses, unincorporated individuals, non-profit organizations and international organizations.
    • Federal funds are ineligible to count as match. 

EVALUATION CRITERIA

Grant applications are evaluated according to a set of evaluation criteria, the adequacy and clarity of application information. All proposals will be screened for relevance, accuracy, completeness and compliance with NFWF and funding source policies. Evaluation criteria include:

Consistency with Program Goals and Priorities – Project contributes to the Program’s overall 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.

Technical Merit – Objectives, approach, and scope of work is technically sound and feasible, and the proposal sets forth a clear, logical and achievable work plan and timeline. Proposed techniques are feasible and appropriate for the site and can be completed on schedule given reasonably foreseeable constraints (weather conditions, operational conditions). Project engages appropriate technical experts throughout project planning, design and implementation to ensure activities are technically-sound and feasible. Write-up is sufficient for reviewers to fully understand and evaluate the technical merits of the project (project plans, designs with specific sites, activities identified).

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.)

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. 

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 OMB Uniform Guidance​ as applicable.

The project budget needs to be as accurate as possible to the true scope of work. This will require getting accurate estimates of project costs. As part of the application, projects must be broken down according to the following budget categories:
  • Personnel – Outline specific tasks and work to be performed by personnel. Total fees should be broken down according to the amount of time spent on the project (e.g., hourly, weekly, or monthly rates). Funding for salaries for federal government agency personnel is not allowed, but other costs such as seasonal assistants, travel etc. are eligible. Salaries for non-federal government personnel are allowed if they are directed specifically to the proposed project. Supporting documentation should be included (i.e. pay scale for organization). 
  • Travel – Specify the purpose or destination for the travel item, unit type and the quantity of units requested. Itemize trips by travel category.
  • Equipment – Equipment with a useful life of more than one year, a per-unit cost of $5,000 or more, and that is necessary to complete the project must be identified. Capital equipment expenditures are highly discouraged and will be thoroughly reviewed including potential alternatives during the competitive review process; rental of such items should be considered instead. Any equipment less than $5,000 will be considered “supplies” and shall be identified in the “Materials and Supplies” category. Supporting documentation for the cost of supplies should be included. 
  • Contractual Services – Contractual services are any agreement issued to a third party to assist with the completion of the project. All work to be completed by the contractor and their rates must be identified. Vendor selection shall be done through a competitive process. Federal wage provisions (Davis-Bacon or Service Contract Act) are applicable to any contract developed and awarded under an award to a successful applicant, where all or part of the funding is provided with U.S. Forest Service funds. 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.
  • Other Direct Costs – Applicants must detail other specific costs associated with the project that do not appropriately fit within any other budget category, such as printing costs, as Direct Costs.
  • Indirect Costs – Please refer to NFWF’s Indirect Cost Policy for details on the allowability and application of indirect costs.
  • Match – Projects are expected to meet or exceed a 50 percent match ratio to be competitive. 

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.

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 – Unless otherwise noted, implementation projects included in this funding opportunity have completed required review under the National Environmental Policy Act. Proposals must demonstrate compliance with the scope, terms and conditions of work as described in the relevant NEPA decision document/s. As may be applicable, successful applicants may be required to comply with additional 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).  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.

Federal Funding 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.

APPENDIX

Click to view the RFP's Appendix.

TIMELINE

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

​Applicant Webinar
​June 7, 2017, 12:00pm–2:00pm PDT
​Full Proposal Due Date
​July 12, 2017, 11:59pm EDT / 8:59pm PDT
​Review Period
​July-August, 2017​​
Awards Announced
​September, 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 as 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 www.nfwf.org/pswfuels/.

A Tip Sheet is available for quick reference while you are working through your application. This document can be downloaded at www.nfwf.org/pswfuels/.  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:
Jonathan Birdsong, Western Regional Director (jonathan.birdsong@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 you are applying to, and a description of the issue.​​​​​​​​​

 

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