Pacific Southwest Fuels Partnership Request for Proposals

Full Proposal Due Date: Tuesday, May 17, 2016 by 11:59 PM Eastern Daylight Time

OVERVIEW

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) is soliciting proposals to plan and implement fuels management projects on select U.S. Forest Service (USFS) lands within California. 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 $2 million is available for year one of this program. 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. 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 four National Forests within the Pacific Southwest Region: the Six Rivers National Forest (NF), Sequoia NF, Inyo NF and Los Padres NF (Figure 1). Details on the fuel management needs in each respective forest are included in the following section of this RFP.

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PROGRAM PRIORITIES

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

1. Inyo National Forest: June Mountain Ski Area Vegetation Management Project

Stands of whitebark pine within the Inyo NF have been severely impacted by mountain pine beetle, and the high rate of tree mortality increases the threat of catastrophic wildland fire, damage to permitted operations, and risk to the community of June Lake. Reducing the fuel load and actively managing this area of the National Forest adjacent to the community of June Lake will proactively protect the watershed and community.

This project is located within the June Mountain Ski Area (JMSA) special use permit boundary and is designed to tie into existing and planned fuel reduction projects (Figure 2). The purpose of the project is to reduce hazardous fuels and promote resilient forest vegetation conditions which are consistent with existing permitted operations.

The project has undergone NEPA review; the NEPA Project Documents detail the precise location, techniques and conditions under which work must take place. The JMSA Vegetation Management Project as scoped for NEPA included several components. The Inyo National Forest has prioritized White Bark Pine restoration (identified as unit WB-1 and unit WB-2 in the Environmental Assessment) as the top priority for near-term project implementation. Additional phases of the JMSA Project may be addressed with future funding. For this funding opportunity, applicants are asked to prepare proposals that detail how they would meet the need for White Bark Pine restoration (units WB-1 and WB-2) as described in the NEPA Project Documents.

Whitebark Pine Restoration units comprise 503 acres and are located across the upper mountain. They fall mainly within wildland-urban interface (WUI) defense zone, with minor portions in the urban core. A focused treatment to remove dead and dying coniferous trees is proposed for the selected Whitebark pine stands. These stands are infested with mountain pine beetle and treatments are designed to promote seed cache behavior by Clark’s nutcracker (Nucifraga columbiana) and improve stand conditions. Refer to the aforementioned NEPA documents and this sample Scope of Work for details on proposed treatments and Forest Service requirements.

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The following are highlights of the activities and conditions associated with this project:

  • Remove standing dead trees and trees currently infested by mountain pine beetle, limiting damage to residual healthy stands.

  • No live trees shall be cut during this phase except to remove live trees damaged during operations or needed for operability and approved by a Forest Service representative.

  • Chip and spread removed material within the project area. Chip depth shall not exceed a maximum depth of 2 inches when deposited in the interior of ski islands. Chipped material deposited onto ski runs shall not exceed a maximum depth of 4 inches, and shall not be discharged to waterbodies or deposited in locations were such material may discharge to a waterbody.

  • Conduct operations so as to prevent damage to naturally occurring regeneration.

  • Vegetation monitoring plots are installed in two locations across the upper mountain, care will be taken by the prospective contractor to not impact rebar placed in plots, a map will be provided upon award.

2. Los Padres National Forest: Frazier Mountain Project

This project is located on the Mount Pinos Ranger District of the Los Padres National Forest, in Kern and Ventura Counties, near the community of Frazier Park (Figure 3). Throughout the project area, stand density exceeds the threshold for epidemic bark beetle activity and within-stand stocking is relatively uniform with little horizontal diversity. The purpose of this project is to provide fire hazard reduction, reduce wildfire risk, maintain health of mature conifers and conifer plantations, and protect high value recreation areas. Treatment to reduce stand density will also help reduce the risk of damage from an endemic bark beetle infestation, which would be difficult and expensive to manage. The project area includes timber stands on upper Frazier Mountain, lower to mid-mountain tree plantations created after a 1946 wildfire, an existing fuelbreak and the areas surrounding certain public and private improvements.

Planned thinning activity will help reduce tree competition and crown densities, reduce under story green tree and brush competition, decrease ladder and surface fuel loads, and reduce existing brush cover. Completion of this work will reduce the risk of bark beetle infestation, reduce moisture competition for residual trees, lower total fuel loading, and reduce the potential for stand-replacing wildfire. This project has undergone NEPA review: The Final Environmental Assessment and Legal Notice of Decision detail the precise location, techniques and conditions under which work must take place.

The Frazier Mountain Project as scoped for NEPA included three treatment types on a total of 2,386 acres. The Los Padres National Forest has identified non-commercial thinning on upper Frazier Mountain timber stands as the top priority for implementation through this funding opportunity.  Additional phases of the Frazier Mountain Project may be addressed with future funding. For this funding opportunity, applicants are asked to prepare proposals that detail how they would apply the treatment prescription on up to 500 acres within the 1,281 acre non-commercial thin upper Frazier Mountain timber stand area as described in Attachment A of the Legal Notice of Decision.

The project will involve using mechanical treatment, hand treatment and possible pile burning to reduce fuel and vegetation densities. Treatments should be designed to reduce the understory ladder while protecting larger trees. Refer to the aforementioned NEPA documents for additional detail on the treatment prescription and limitations.

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The following are highlights of the activities and conditions associated with this project:
  • Thin understory to remove smaller diameter trees (thin from below up to 10” diameter breast height, DBH), leaving the larger diameter (>10” diameter) trees unless they pose a safety hazard to thinning operations or the public.

  • Utilize appropriate techniques including machine piling and burning, mastication, chipping, hand piling and burning, and lopping-and-scattering to treat activity fuels.

  • Construct and rehabilitate landings and temporary roads as needed to support treatment activities.

3. Sequoia National Forest: McKenzie Ranch Fuels Reduction Project

This project is located in and around several plantations along McKenzie Ridge on the Hume Lake Ranger District of Sequoia National Forest/Giant Sequoia National Monument (Figure 4). The project area is within the wildland-urban interface (WUI) threat zone, and fuel treatment would reduce the risk of wildland fire impacts to communities and infrastructure in foothill communities. The vegetation in the project area is a mix of pine plantations established after past harvest activities and the 1955 McGee wildfire, natural conifer stands, mixtures of conifers and oaks, and areas of native chaparral. The amount of competing vegetation poses a risk of stand-replacing, catastrophic fire or trees succumbing to competition or subsequent insect or disease infestation. In addition, the area is adjacent to and upslope of Highway 180, which increases the potential for human-caused wildfire.

The purpose of the project is to reduce fuels and continue reintroducing fire into the WUI to improve forest health and resilience. The long term goal is to restore old forest habitat, where applicable, and the natural fire cycle. The creation of a more diverse, multi-storied habitat with larger trees, more old oaks and a greater resilience to stand replacing fires is anticipated to improve denning/nesting habitat for Pacific fishers, Northern goshawks and California spotted owls. This project has undergone NEPA review: The Final Environmental Assessment and Legal Notice of Decision detail the precise location, techniques and conditions under which work must take place.

The McKenzie Ranch Fuels Reduction Project as scoped for NEPA included two components. The Sequoia National Forest/Giant Sequoia National Monument has identified the McKenzie area as the top priority for implementation through this funding opportunity. Some portions within the Ranch area have already been treated; approximately 576 acres of the McKenzie area remain to be treated mechanically. Additional phases of the McKenzie Ranch Project may be addressed with future funding; subsequent activity under future funding would include 726 acres of prescribed burning in the McKenzie portion. For this funding opportunity, applicants are asked to prepare proposals that detail how they would meet the need for fuel management in the McKenzie area as described in the referenced NEPA documents.

The project will involve using mechanical treatment and prescribed burning to reduce fuel and vegetation densities. Treatments should be designed to reduce the understory ladder while protecting larger trees. Refer to the aforementioned NEPA documents for additional detail on the treatment prescription and limitations.

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The following are highlights of the activities and conditions associated with this project:

  • Mechanical treatments using an excavator with a masticating attachment shall grind up standing brush and small trees and leave the larger conifers and oaks.

  • No trees shall be commercially logged or removed from the sites.

  • Approximately ten percent of the area shall be left untreated in scattered stands of 5 to 8 trees, with 6 to 8 such stands per acre, in order to provide areas of dense, multi-storied canopies to help restore old forest wildlife habitat.

4. Six Rivers National Forest: Orleans Community Fuels Reduction and Forest Health Project

This project is located on National Forest System lands administered by the Orleans Ranger District of the Six Rivers National Forest, in the heart of the 1.2 million acre Western Klamath Restoration Partnership (WKRP) planning area (Figure 5). The WKRP is a collaborative effort including the Karuk Tribe, the Mid-Klamath Watershed Council, the U.S. Forest Service, area Fire Safe Councils, environmental groups and other community-based stakeholders who are working together to establish and maintain resilient ecosystems, communities and economies guided by cultural and contemporary knowledge. WKRP shared values include sustainable local economies, cultural and community vitality, fire-adapted communities, restored fire regimes, resilient and biodiverse forests, and a healthy river system.

The project area has a high potential for large, sustained, severe wildfires: Fire risk has been consistently high since the 1960s with a dramatic increase in fire occurrence since the year 2000, and at least six fires since 1973 occurring within 10 miles of the project area have exhibited extreme fire behavior.

The purpose of this project is to protect watersheds and increase forest health by reducing fuels, and increasing wildfire suppression effectiveness in and around the community of Orleans. Completion of this project will reduce hazardous fuel accumulations, reduce the probability of crown fires in the project area, and would support the reintroduction of natural, cultural and prescribed fire to support ecosystem function. Improved forest condition and fire resilience will reduce the risk of catastrophic fire damage to the community of Orleans. This project has undergone NEPA review: The Final Environmental Impact Statement and Record of Decision detail the precise location, techniques and conditions under which work must take place.

The project as scoped for NEPA included treatments on approximately 2,698 acres of forest lands. For purposes of this funding opportunity, the Six Rivers NF has prioritized two smaller project areas that are covered by the NEPA decision: (1) mechanical treatment on 78 units totaling 635 acres, and (2) handline construction on 18 units totaling 50,440 linear feet. Refer to the aforementioned NEPA documents for additional detail on the treatment prescription and limitations. A supplementary map and table of priority units are also provided for reference.

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The following are highlights of the activities and conditions associated with this project:
  • Mechanical treatment of 635 acres using hand-held mechanized equipment (chainsaws) to reduce smaller diameter fuel and vegetation densities (>4” diameter). Treatments should be designed to reduce understory ladder fuel vegetation while protecting the residual stand.

  • Handline construction (cutting vegetation >4” diameter, followed by 2 foot wide scrape to bare mineral soil) for 18 units in the project area (approximately 50,440 linear feet).

  • Limited Operating Periods may apply to some units due to impact to wildlife habitat (operating periods begin after July 31th and before Feb 1).

  • No trees shall be commercially logged or removed from work sites.

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 Activity​ 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, 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 $2 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 $750,000. 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 2-7 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 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, and the extent to which they address the goals and priorities for each of the four projects listed on pages 2-7, as articulated in planning documents referenced in each project description. 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).

Community and Partner Involvement – There is demonstrated local area stakeholder support for the project (number, diversity of partners, matching funds, contact information/letters demonstrating involvement and/or support).

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.

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).

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.

ENVIRONMENTAL COMPLIANCE REQUIREMENTS

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 (links provided on pages 2-7).

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.

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                       April 12, 2016, 12:00pm – 2:00pm PDT (register at https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/5910731892607422724)

  • Full Proposal Due Date                May 17, 2016, 11:59pm, EDT

  • Review Period                              May 17 – 31, 2016

  • Awards Announced                       July 11, 2016

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 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:

Sarah Peterson
Western Forests Director
sarah.peterson@nfwf.org
(415) 243-3105

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.