New England Forests and Rivers Fund 2016 Request for Proposals

Full Proposal Due Date: Thursday, May 19th by 11:59 PM Eastern Daylight Time

Overview

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) is soliciting proposals from within the New England states to restore and sustain healthy forests and rivers that provide habitat for diverse native bird populations, as well as freshwater and diadromous fish populations. The program will advance this goal by investing in projects that:

  • Strengthen the health of forest systems by improving the management of public and private forestlands to create a mosaic of mixed age forests in the region;
  • Provide incentives to strengthen habitat conservation on working forests through flexible  technical assistance that is appropriate for the forest stage(s) being targeted;
  • Improve the quality of river and stream systems through targeted riparian and stream restoration;
  • Reduce barriers to fish passage and increase fish access to high quality habitat, thereby increasing overall aquatic connectivity; and
  • Enhance biodiversity of forest and river systems and increase populations of species representative of system health, such as New England cottontail, American woodcock, Bay-breasted warbler, Canada warbler, Wood thrush, river herring and Eastern brook trout.

Approximately $1.9 million is available this year. Funding is provided by Eversource’s Partners for New Hampshire’s Fish and Wildlife, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service and Natural Resources Conservation Service, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

GEOGRAPHIC FOCUS

Projects from throughout the New England states (i.e. Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island and Connecticut) are invited, with a particular focus on projects that include on-the-ground restoration in New Hampshire.

PROGRAM PRIORITIES

Priority will be given to projects that address at least one of the following strategies.

1. Healthy Forest Systems

We seek projects that implement forest management practices on both public and private lands. Preference will be given to projects that target land that is permanently protected or under long-term easement.

  • Assessment/Planning: Support development of forest management planning tools that focus on landscape level implementation with a corresponding measurable benefit to priority avian species. Tools that demonstrate at scale implementation and integrate long-term planning, such that habitat attributes are implemented consistent with senescence rates are preferred. Support assessments of avian distribution and abundance in northern New England working forests.  
  • Early Successional Forest Habitat (aka Young Forests): Create and enhance early successional forest habitat as part of a landscape effort to restore a mosaic of forest age classes in the region. This work may include flexible management prescriptions for forest stands on public and private lands that are un-managed or under-utilized, and/or improvement of fallow or un-managed habitat through planting and selective treatment to facilitate appropriate habitat conditions for early successional species including New England cottontail and American woodcock.
  • Late Successional and Old Growth Forest Habitat: Demonstrate forest management strategies and practices that enhance late successional and old growth habitat, and maximize habitat quality for target species, such as wood thrush, Bay-breasted, Black-throated blue and Cape May warblers, and Northern long-eared bat. This may include prescriptions to create small gaps within mature stands, as well as projects that protect summer habitat for Northern long-eared bat in New England’s coastal forests. Demonstration projects should include plans for conveying lessons learned to foresters and conservation professionals throughout the region.
  • Pollinator Habitat: Work with large public and private landowners to adopt pollinator-friendly practices, and create native wildflower and pine barren habitat on un-managed or under-utilized lands. Projects may target specific species of bees, bats, hummingbirds and butterflies (e.g., Karner blue and monarch). Given limited funding, awards for pollinator habitat are restricted to New Hampshire this year.
  • Economic Incentives: Assess the economic opportunities associated with thinning and selective cuts. Assessments may include opportunities for new markets or value-added forest products, enhanced certification programs, as well as innovative approaches such credit trading for carbon, habitat and other ecosystem services. 
  • Provide Technical Assistance: Provide outreach and technical assistance to engage private landowners and local governments in restoration and conservation on their lands. Technical assistance must be appropriate to the forest stage(s) being targeted, e.g., early successional, intermediate or mature. Provide incentives to recruit additional technical services providers and/or forestry consultants who can write forest management plans and implement recommended practices.

Projects that promote forest management to enhance habitat are encouraged to use signage and other outreach methods to raise community awareness and support for the project’s goals and objectives.

2. Healthy River Systems

We seek projects that represent the best opportunities to restore river function, water quality, and enhance the long term persistence of native species in aquatic systems in New England including resident native trout (i.e., Eastern brook trout) and diadromous fishes (e.g., river herring). For Eastern brook trout focused work, projects that reconnect and seek to expand existing brook trout populations will be considered highest priority.

  • Restore Connectivity: Replace culverts that are barriers to fish passage and remove under-utilized dams that result in artificial impoundment and stream warming; install fish passage structures to connect Eastern brook trout and river herring to key spawning, rearing, and refuge habitats. Projects should include a monitoring plan to assess changes in run counts as a result of passage improvements. Projects can support on-the-ground restoration and stream barrier surveys to determine priorities for future connectivity restoration. Projects are encouraged to demonstrate the benefits of aquatic connectivity projects to human communities through reduced flooding and other infrastructure failures. 
  • Restore Riparian, In-stream Habitat, and Water Quality: Replant riparian areas with native vegetation to reduce stream temperature and enhance reciprocal exchanges between aquatic-terrestrial habitats; improve instream habitat through hydrologic restoration, secondary channel reconnection to tributary/mainstems, and levee removal, breaching or setback to reconnect rivers to their floodplains; increase coordination between forest management and stream habitat restoration to enhance habitat complexity through large boulder addition, log jam creation, and improve wood recruitment to streams through upland and riparian forest management; reduce sediment delivery to streams through bank stabilization, grazing exclusion, and road maintenance/management (targeting those roads that contribute large amounts of sediment to forest streams). 
  • Provide Technical Assistance:
    • Provide outreach and technical assistance to engage private landowners and local governments in restoration and conservation on their lands. Where appropriate, leverage funding through the Farm Bill to renew or enter into new cost-share contracts to restore and protect riparian buffers and wetlands on agricultural lands. Projects should identify imbalances in sign-up and available cost-share, and use grant funding to meet excess demand or to generate new demand, as needed. Proposals that seek to extend term contracts into perpetual easements are encouraged.
    • Increase coordination across agencies and organizations and improve delivery of   landowner technical assistance, as well as target outreach to private lands adjacent to or in close proximity to established heritage brook trout populations.
    • Provide training opportunities to restoration practitioners, municipalities, and agencies to disseminate state-of-the-art stream connectivity techniques, such as the US Forest Service’s Stream Simulation method and train practitioners on the installation of large woody debris and log jams.                            
  • Conserve Existing High-Quality Native Trout Rivers and Diverse Brook Trout Life History Strategies: Facilitate targeted conservation easement projects that protect existing, high quality riparian forest, or key sites that support native trout populations.   Implement targeted work on Eastern brook trout life history strategies that are unique (i.e. lacustrine populations, large river populations, and coastal populations). 
  • Conduct Native Trout Inventory and Assessments: Conduct assessments to determine trout population status for rivers of the Northeast where Eastern brook trout presence is qualitative or unknown. 
  • Promote Sustainable River Herring Fisheries: Develop sustainable fisheries plans for rivers where actual and/or expected run counts are at least one million fish. Activities may include, but aren’t limited to: determining appropriate harvest rates, estimating reproduction rates in key spawning areas, estimating run counts, constructing counting facilities, and/or fishing plan improvement and/or implementation.
  • Identify Opportunities to Create Multi-species Benefits for Diadromous Fish: Working with a broad range of stakeholders, develop a strategy and prioritization of opportunities to remove barriers to fish passage that maximize benefits for multiple diadromous fish species (e.g., river herring, Atlantic salmon, American eel).

3. Healthy Forests AND Rivers

The health of forest and river systems is inextricably linked. Innovative projects that demonstrate the connection between these ecosystems are encouraged. For example,

  • demonstrate forest management prescriptions that minimize impacts on water through timing and site selection, and that maximize habitat benefits for both aquatic and upland species;  
  • demonstrate synergistic restoration opportunities that use wood products from forest management activities to provide in-stream habitat structure; and 
  • target opportunities to restore forested riparian and wetland buffers to maximize habitat benefits for both aquatic species (e.g., Eastern brook trout, river herring) and riparian dwelling birds (e.g., Canada warbler, Rusty blackbird, Bald eagle).

PROJECT METRICS

To better gauge progress on individual grants and to ensure greater consistency of project data provided by multiple grants, the New England Forests and Rivers Fund 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 John Wright to discuss acceptable alternatives.

Project Activity

Recommended Metric

Additional Guidance

Culvert replacement, dam removal and other fish passage projects

Number of passage barriers rectified

In NOTES section, indicate what type of barrier is being removed and/or installed (i.e. dam, culvert, bridge etc.)

Miles of stream opened

Wetland restoration

Acres restored

 

Instream habitat restoration

Miles restored

In NOTES section, indicate types of changes to stream channel (e.g., raising/lowering stream bed, changes in direction of stream flow, grading stream banks, adding in-stream structures such as woody material).

Forest management activities

Acres under improved management

In NOTES section, indicate the type of forest habitat and target species (e.g., early successional for New England Cottontail, mature forest for Black-Throated Blue Warbler)

Riparian forest restoration

Miles restored

In NOTES section, indicate the buffer width (e.g., 35’, 100’).

Installation of livestock exclusion fencing

Miles of fencing installed

Road improvement BMPs

Miles of road improved

 

Practices to reduce nutrient and sediment runoff

Acres with BMPs

In NOTES section, indicate the type of BMP(s) (e.g., continuous no-till, enhanced nutrient management, rain garden/bioretention).

Lbs sediment avoided (annually)

Fee acquisition and/or conservation easement

Acres protected

In NOTES section, indicate the type of habitat(s) protected.

Miles protected

Habitat improvement projects

Number of habitat units improved

In NOTES section, indicate target species and type of habitat.

Acres occupied by the species

Miles of habitat occupied by species

Wildlife population monitoring

Acres monitored

In NOTES section, indicate the species being monitored.

Outreach to targeted audiences

Number of  people reached

In NOTES section, indicate target audience(s) (farmers, landowners, municipalities, etc.)

Behavior change programs and campaigns

Number of people with changed behavior

Engaging volunteers in restoration activities

Number of volunteers participating

ELIGIBILITY

  • Eligible and Ineligible Entities 

Eligible applicants include non-profit 501(c) organizations, state government agencies, local governments, municipal governments, Indian tribes and educational institutions.

Ineligible applicants include U.S. Federal government agencies, businesses, 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 New England Forests and Rivers Fund will award approximately $1.9 million in grants this year. Of the total, $800,000 is dedicated to projects in New Hampshire. Grants will range from $50,000 to $200,000 each. Projects should begin within six months of the award date and be completed within two years. These grants require non-Federal matching contributions valued at 50% of the total project costs (1:1 ratio).

EVALUATION CRITERIA

Program Goals and Priorities Project contributes to the Program’s overall habitat and species conservation 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 Proposals.

Technical Merit – Project is technically sound and feasible, and the proposal sets forth a clear, logical and achievable work plan and timeline. Project engages appropriate technical experts throughout project planning, design and implementation to ensure activities are technically-sound and feasible.

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).

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.

Funding Need – Project establishes a clear need for the funds being requested, and demonstrates that activities would not move forward absent funding.

Conservation Plan and Context – The project advances an existing conservation plan or strategy.

Monitoring – 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.

Long-term Sustainability – Project will be maintained to ensure benefits are achieved and sustained over time. This should include how future funding will be secured to implement necessary long-term monitoring and maintenance activities. For planning and design projects that do not include on-the-ground implementation, proposals should provide evidence that implementation funding will be available.

OTHER

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.

Federal Funding Requirements: Projects selected to receive Federal funding may be subject to requirements under the National Environmental Policy Act, Endangered Species Act, and National Historic Preservation Act.  Documentation of compliance with these regulations must be approved prior to initiating activities that disturb or alter habitat or other features of the project site(s).  Applicants should budget time and resources to obtain the needed approvals.  Federally-funded projects must operate in compliance with the OMB Uniform Guidance as applicable to the applicant.

Permits: Applicants will be required to indicate the status of all permits required to comply with 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.

TIMELINE

Dates of activities are subject to change.  Please check the NFWF website for the most current dates, times and registration information: New England Forests and Rivers Fund.

Applicant Workshops:

Westborough, MA

​Tuesday, April 12, 1:00 PM - 3:00 PM

Manchester, NH

​Wednesday, April 13, 10:00 AM - Noon

Augusta, ME

​Tuesday, April 19, TBD

Applicant Webinar

​Thursday, April 21, 2:00-3:00 PM

Full Proposal Due Date

​Thursday, May 19 11:59 PM

Review Period

​June/July

Awards Announced

​Mid-July

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:

John Wright, Coordinator, Northeastern Regional Office
John.Wright@nfwf.org, (202) 595-2478

David Lawrence, Director, Aquatic Conservation
David.Lawrence@nfwf.org, (202) 595-2451

Scott Hall, Senior Manager, Bird Conservation
Scott.Hall@nfwf.org, (202) 595-2465

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.