Puerto Rico Seagrass Fund - Seagrass Conservation Projects Request for Proposals

OVERVIEW

The Puerto Rico Seagrass Fund (“Fund”) was established with funds from the consent decree entered in relation to U.S. v. Authority for the Port of the Americas, Case No. 3:12-cv-02033-JAG (D.P.R.) to implement seagrass conservation projects in Puerto Rico. With the support of a Fund-awarded grant, an Initial Assessment was completed in December 2014 identifying seagrass protection and restoration opportunities based on observed anthropogenic impacts to seagrass and recommending priorit​y conservation locations and strategies. A copy of the Initial Assessment is available at:

http://www.nfwf.org/seagrassfund/Documents/Puerto_Rico_Seagrass_Initial_Assessment.pdf

PLEASE NOTE: Electronic File Appendices for the Initial Assessment are now available at:

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/jg5ds7mplqte32l/AAC2QtNgC57B0SGtHsQi6yAha?dl=0

The Foundation is now conducting a request for proposals (“RFP”) through which the Fund will competitively award grants for the most cost-effective seagrass conservation projects in the shallow, nearshore waters between Guánica (Punta Jorobado) and Santa Isabel (Punta Petrona) in Puerto Rico that address the identified conservation or research priorities described below.

The Seagrass Conservation Projects RFP will be conducted in consultation/coordination with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (“USACE”), the National Marine Fisheries Service (“NMFS”), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Caribbean Ecological Services Field Office (“USFWS”), and the Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources (“DNER”) who together comprise the Interagency Advisory Team (“IAT”). The IAT provides guidance to the project manager on conservation priorities and will participate in reviewing and evaluating grant proposals submitted in response to the RFP.

PROGRAM PRIORITIES

Funding is available for one or more of the following conservation projects:

  • Restore or re-establish vegetation buffers along coastal areas to mitigate erosion and sediment discharges into nearshore seagrass habitats.  Priority areas include the shoreline at Playa de Santa Isabel and Playa Cortada in Santa Isabel; Playa de Ponce in Ponce, from Punta Cucharas in Ponce to Sector El Boquete in Peñuelas; and San Jacinto and Guánica Bay in Guánica.  Potential recipient must develop/coordinate long-term maintenance with an appropriate local governmental or other organization.
  • Remove and/or substitute refuse material (e.g. construction rubble) used for wave erosion control with appropriate shore stabilization materials, incorporating native coastal vegetation including mangroves as appropriate to provide better ecological connectivity and species habitat. Activities are recommended to primarily take place on shoreline above mean high tide line. Potential recipient must obtain all required local, municipal, Commonwealth or federal permits, ensure proper disposal of refuse material, and develop/coordinate long-term maintenance with an appropriate local governmental or other organization.
  • Evaluate and implement erosion control alternatives to minimize impacts of unpaved roads in Guánica Bay and adjacent areas. Potential recipient must obtain all required permits and develop/coordinate long-term maintenance with an appropriate local governmental or other organization.
  • Inventory and remove heavily deteriorated, unused or abandoned structures that are adversely affecting seagrasses along the coast. Such structures may include old docks, piers, piles, mooring anchors, pieces of riprap, debris and other infrastructure. Developing a work plan for these projects is expected to require a general reconnaissance of the location of the structures to identify/incorporate necessary measures to avoid and minimize potential impacts to adjacent sensitive marine resources.
  • Geographic priorities for removal include densely populated areas such as Playa de Santa Isabel and Playa Cortada in Santa Isabel and Playa de Ponce in Ponce from Punta Cucharas in Ponce to Sector El Boquete in Peñuelas. Potential recipient must ensure proper disposal of refuse material and would be expected to coordinate with DNER regarding the structures inventoried and their permit or submerged land use concession status, as well as legal requirements, edict procedures, and permitting necessary for the removal of the structures, as appropriate. Potential recipient would also be required to obtain other required permits from federal and Commonwealth agencies as appropriate.

Funding is also available for one or more of the following research projects:

  • Develop a year-long study of environmental conditions associated with seagrass habitats within the geographical area of interest. The study should collect data on temporal differences in pluviosity, turbidity, and turbulence patterns in order to provide information about the resilience and temporal patterns of various species of seagrass.
  • Study the cause of macroalgal blooms observed in Manglillo, Guánica Bay, and sites in El Tuque, Ponce. Evaluate the degree to which anthropogenic vs. natural sources have contributed to the blooms. Possible study approaches include microbiological monitoring, chemical tracing, and evaluation of leaks from sewage pipes or tanks.
  • Assess the role of seagrass and macroalgae as community bioindicators (biomass, primary productivity, diversity, etc.). Employ an ecosystem-level analysis so that results may be applicable to multiple sites.
  • Determine the impact of land-use patterns such as agricultural activities in order to estimate potential soil erosion at watershed scales. Study should employ environmental modeling tools such as SWAT (USDA), WEPP (USDA-ARS), and/or BASINS (EPA).
  • Determine the status of seagrasses in areas impacted by river runoff and other high turbidity areas. Geographic priority areas include Río Matilde, Río Portugués and Río Bucaná in Ponce, Río Loco in Guánica, Río Descalabrado between Juana Díaz and Santa Isabel, and Río Coamo in Santa Isabel.
  • Use historical imagery and aerial photography to assess long-term trends and changes in seagrass cover at selected sites. Identify habitat areas of particular concern for seagrass protection and management. Of particular interest are ecological corridors encompassing mangroves, seagrasses, and coral reefs.

GENERAL PROJECT REQUIREMENTS

Each proposal must include the following:

  • Public outreach/education: Each recipient is expected to disseminate information to the public and appropriate stakeholder groups about the relevant seagrass conservation work or research either during or at the conclusion of project activities. Dissemination may occur through public signage, newsletters, pamphlets, community events, meetings, or other activities.
  • Reporting: Recipients must complete and submit all appropriate programmatic and financial reports, as well as relevant supplementary documentation, per guidelines in contractual documents. Up to 10% of the total award amount will be withheld pending receipt and approval of final reporting.

FUNDING AVAILABLE 

Total funding for conservation projects not to exceed $600,000.

Total funding for research projects not to exceed $155,000.

ELIGIBILITY

Local, Commonwealth, and Federal agencies; private or public organizations; corporations; schools and universities; consultants; and private individuals may respond to this request for proposals. 

Selection will be made based on relevant expertise, experience, and qualifications as evidenced in the proposal submitted.

PROPOSAL EVALUATION

All proposals will be screened for relevance, accuracy, completeness, and compliance with NFWF and IAT policies. Proposals will then be evaluated based on the extent to which they meet the following criteria:

  • Focus (34%) – Extent to which the project addresses one or more of the Program Priorities described above.
  • Technical Capacity and Partnership (33%) – Extent to which the applicant has the technical capacity to complete the project, including demonstrated experience performing similar projects, and extent to which the applicant engages appropriate partners to implement an achievable project with long-term sustainability after the life of the grant (if necessary).
  • Work Plan and Budget (33%) – Extent to which the project is technically sound, feasible, and sustainable in the long-term, with a proposal that sets forth a clear, logical and achievable work plan that considers all applicable permits needed to comply with federal, state or local requirements.  Extent to which an education and outreach plan directed at the appropriate project audience is incorporated into the project. Extent to which the budget is cost-effective and reasonable.

TIMELINE

The anticipated timeline for this grant round is as follows:
  • Release Request for Proposals for Initial Assessment: April 13, 2015
  • Proposal Submission Deadline: May 21, 2015
  • Awards Announced: June 25, 2015
  • Commence project work: As soon as is reasonably practicable after notification of selection
  • Project completion: Variable based on scope. All projects to be completed no later than December 31, 2016.

HOW TO APPLY

 All application materials must be submitted online through the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Easygrants system.

  1. Go to www.nfwf.org/easygrants to register in our Easygrants online system.  New users to the system will be prompted to register before starting the application (if you already are a registered user, use your existing login).  Enter your applicant information.

  2. Once on your homepage, click the “Apply for Funding” button and select this RFP’s “Funding Opportunity” from the list of options.

  3. Follow the instructions in Easygrants to complete your application.  Once an application has been started, it may be saved and returned to at a later time for completion and submission.

Proposals will be evaluated by the Foundation and the IAT. If necessary, the Foundation or the IAT will contact applicants directly to discuss the need for any additional information, changes, or questions/clarifications about their proposal.

For more information or questions about the application process, please contact:

Michelle Olson

National Fish and Wildlife Foundation

1133 15th Street, NW, Suite 1100

Washington, DC 20005

(202) 595-2437 

michelle.olson@nfwf.org

For issues or assistance with the Foundation’s online Easygrants system, please contact:

Easygrants Helpdesk

Email:  Easygrants@nfwf.org

Voicemail:  202-595-2497

Hours:  9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET, Monday-Friday.

Include:  your name, proposal ID #, e-mail address, phone number, program you are applying to, and a description of the issue.​​​