Colorado Lands with Wilderness Characteristics Fund: Request for Full Proposals 2023

Full Proposal Due Date: March 16, 2023


The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (“NFWF”) requests Full Proposals under the Colorado Lands with Wilderness Characteristics Fund (“Fund”) for projects that will restore, reclaim, preserve, conserve, and/or enhance wilderness characteristics in Colorado. NFWF established and administers the Fund with monies it received as compensatory mitigation for authorized impacts of the Gateway South Transmission Project to Lands with Wilderness Characteristics (“LWC”) in Colorado, as approved by the Bureau of Land Management (“BLM”) and its Record of Decision for the project.

NFWF, as the administrator of the Fund, will accept Full Proposals for projects through Thursday, March 16, 2023 at 9:59pm Mountain time. All proposed projects must provide adequate information in accordance with the evaluation criteria outlined below. Full Proposals will be reviewed and evaluated as described below. Funding awards will be made by NFWF to selected applicants for projects that best satisfy the evaluation criteria, as verified and approved by BLM. Thereafter, NFWF will execute project funding agreements with awardees that will implement the projects in accordance with the respective Full Proposals, applicable laws, and the terms and conditions of such project funding agreements with monies provided from the Fund. 

The requirements for responding to this Request for Proposals ("RFP") are described in the sections below. The process for responding to this RFP will be conducted using the NFWF Easygrants online application system as described in the How to Apply and Timeline sections at the end of this RFP. 

Geographic Focus

The Fund will fund projects located in Colorado, within lands determined by the BLM to possess wilderness characteristics (as further described below), or lands that are eligible for wilderness characteristics inventory. Such lands may include designated Wilderness areas, Wilderness Study Areas (“WSA”), and other lands managed to preserve wilderness characteristics.  All project activities are to be located either on federal (public) lands within the following BLM administrative areas, listed here in descending order of priority: Little Snake Field Office and White River Field Office, Northwest District, and other BLM Offices in Colorado; or on non-federal lands adjacent to public lands identified as possessing wilderness characteristics. A map of these areas is shown here.

Funding Available

NFWF expects to award up to approximately $5.14 million from the Fund to projects through this RFP. Up to approximately $1.28 million of this amount may be made available for public outreach, education, and interpretation projects.

Matching contributions are not required for projects submitted for consideration under this RFP, but may make project proposals more competitive.

Funding Priorities

As established under the Wilderness Act of 1964, wilderness character is described as a combination of biophysical, experiential, and symbolic ideals that distinguishes wilderness from other lands. Land management agencies identify and define five tangible qualities of wilderness character as: untrammeled; undeveloped; natural; solitude or primitive and unconfined recreation, as well as unique or other features of value. 

  1. The untrammeled quality refers to conditions that remain unhindered and free from modern human control or manipulation. 
  2. The undeveloped quality refers to an area that is without permanent improvements or modern human occupation, including the presence or use of motor vehicles and mechanized equipment. 
  3. The natural quality refers to an area affected primarily by the forces of nature where the natural ecosystem is largely intact and functioning free from modern human influence. 
  4. Solitude is described as the state of being alone or remote from habitations or the sights and sounds of other people. Primitive and unconfined recreation includes activities that provide dispersed, undeveloped recreation, do not require facilities or motorized equipment, and are enjoyed without unnecessary management restriction.
  5. Unique or other features of value are not required to be found in wilderness but may include resources of cultural, historical, scenic, ecological, geological, and/or scientific interest.

Wilderness characteristics are interpreted from the definition of “wilderness” in section 2(c) of the Wilderness Act and present in all designated WSAs and lands managed to protect wilderness characteristics. Wilderness characteristics include the following:

  1. Naturalness: the area generally appears to have been affected primarily by the forces of nature, with the imprint of man's work substantially unnoticeable.
  2. Outstanding Opportunities: the area has either outstanding opportunities for solitude, or outstanding opportunities for primitive and unconfined types of recreation. 
  3. Size: the area is at least 5,000 acres or is of sufficient size as to make practicable its preservation and use in an unimpaired condition.
  4. Supplemental Values: the area may also contain ecological, geological, or other features of scientific, educational, scenic, or historical value.

This RFP seeks projects that will restore, reclaim, preserve, conserve, or enhance wilderness character or wilderness characteristics. They may include, but are not necessarily limited to, any or a combination of the following: 

1.     Restoration, Reclamation, and Enhancement Activities

Activities to remove human-caused disturbance and restore and protect native ecological conditions in areas within, or immediately adjacent to, lands inventoried for wilderness characteristics, WSAs, designated Wilderness, or other areas managed to preserve wilderness characteristics that have been impacted by conditions such as unauthorized motor or mechanized vehicle travel; route proliferation; abandoned routes or linear disturbances; dispersed camping; campsite expansion; hazardous material or trash dumping; target shooting; abandoned mining, mineral leasing, or mineral material sales sites; abandoned range improvements; abandoned roads and structures; abandoned water developments; human-caused wildfires; and/or establishment of invasive species. 

Activities may involve, and are not necessarily limited to: manual or mechanical soil recontouring; invasive weed control; hand or mechanized seeding (including bunchgrasses and forb understories); hand planting; riparian improvements; erosion control; mulching; tree thinning as necessary; vehicle barriers; temporary closures; signing; kiosk installation; trailhead construction; fencing construction or removal; equestrian gate installation; cattleguard installation or removal; pipeline, trough, spring box, or guzzler removal; structure removal; professional hazmat removal; trash cleanups; and/or similar activities. 

2.     Fee Title and Conservation Easement Acquisitions for Conservation and/or Preservation

Fee title and conservation easement acquisitions of non-federal lands adjacent to public lands inventoried for wilderness characteristics, WSAs, designated Wilderness, or other areas managed to preserve wilderness characteristics, including all aspects of the fee title or conservation easement acquisition process (e.g., due diligence, title review, environmental site assessments, appraisals, biological and/or habitat surveys, and associated costs, including closing and escrow costs), and long-term protection (e.g., long-term monitoring and/or management plans and establishment of applicable long-term funding mechanisms to pay for any necessary long-term monitoring and/or management). 

3.     Public Outreach, Education, and Interpretation Activities

Public outreach, education, and interpretation activities that support, either directly or indirectly, the restoration, reclamation, preservation, conservation, or enhancement of wilderness characteristics on public lands, such as: 

  • Sign purchasing and installation
  • Interpretation and environmental education
  • Kiosk or trailhead development
  • Brochures, posters, or map development and printing
  • Public events
  • Public surveys
  • Site stewardship and monitoring
  • Volunteer programs and events

Proposal Requirements and Evaluation

Full Proposals will be reviewed and evaluated by NFWF in consultation with the BLM. All proposals will be evaluated according to their ability to meet the evaluation criteria, including the adequacy and clarity of application information, and the provision of required information described in this RFP. 

If funds are being requested for fee title and conservation easement acquisitions, please review the Real Property Acquisition Proposal Requirements

Evaluation Criteria:

  • Alignment with funding priorities: The project proposal addresses one or more of the funding priorities. 
  • Technical Merit: The project proposal is technically sound and feasible, and sets forth a clear, logical, and achievable work plan and timeline. The proposal clearly demonstrates how the project will provide durable restoration/reclamation, preservation, conservation, or enhancement of wilderness characteristics.
  • Budget: The project proposal includes a detailed budget and costs are reasonable, appropriate, and justified. Matching funds from external entities may be considered a benefit in the evaluation of a project’s budget.
  • Organization Qualifications: The project proposal engages appropriate technical experts throughout project planning, design, and implementation to ensure activities are technically sound and feasible. The applicant’s experience is relevant to delivery of the project, and/or the applicant has a proven track record of success in implementing conservation projects with specific measurable results.
  • Monitoring and Reporting: The project proposal identifies appropriate monitoring and reporting throughout project planning, design, and implementation, including measurable goals and objectives, to ensure the project goals and objectives are met. Monitoring of the project should be consistent with existing BLM monitoring programs.
  • Applicable Permits and Authorizations: The project has appropriate federal, state, and/or local permits and authorizations.
  • Applicable Law and Policies: The project proposal complies with all relevant laws and policies, which includes compliance with BLM’s mitigation manual and handbooks, including BLM’s lands with wilderness characteristics, WSA, and wilderness policies. Specifically, the proposed project will 1) support or add to a landscape-scale benefit; 2) be durable; 3) add benefits to baseline conditions; and 4) achieve resource objectives in appropriate time frames.
  • Adequacy and Clarity of Information: The project proposal is clearly written and includes adequate information in conformity with the applicable Proposal Requirements described above. 


Eligible Entities

Eligible applicants include non-profit 501(c)3 organizations, U.S. Federal government agencies, state government agencies and other political subdivisions of the state, local and municipal governments, Tribal governments and organizations, businesses, unincorporated individuals, and educational institutions.

Ineligible Uses of Grant Funds

Awards under this Fund may not be used to support an applicant’s ongoing efforts to comply with legal requirements, including permit conditions, mitigation, and settlement agreements. 

Awards under this Fund may not be used for political advocacy, fundraising, lobbying, or litigation. 


The anticipated timeline for this RFP is as follows:

March 16, 2023 (9:59pm Mountain time): Full Proposal due date
May 2023: Awards announced 

How to Apply

All Full Proposal applications must be received by Thursday, March 16, 2023 at 9:59pm Mountain time. Applicants are expected to be notified of the status of their Full Proposals in May 2023. 

NFWF reserves the right to award or not award funding hereunder to any applicant, and NFWF may withdraw this RFP at any time without notice. During the proposal review process, the review committee may request that applicants revise their proposals or provide additional details on a specific topic. Applicants who do not respond to these requests and do not complete requested revisions may be removed from further consideration for funding.

All application materials must be submitted online through NFWF’s Easygrants system. Please note that while proposals will be accepted in Easygrants until 9:59pm Mountain time on the due date, application support will only be available until 3:00pm Mountain time.

Go to the Easygrants online system to register. 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 disable the pop-up blocker on your internet browser prior to beginning the application process. 

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

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. 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:

Eliza Braendel
Senior Manager, Impact-Directed Environmental Accounts (IDEA)
National Fish and Wildlife Foundation

Anne Butterfield
Senior Manager, Impact-Directed Environmental Accounts (IDEA)
National Fish and Wildlife Foundation