Bring Back the Native Fish 2022 Request for Proposals

Applicant Webinar [View Recording]: May 18, 2022 at 3:00 PM Eastern Time
Pre-Proposal Due Date:   June 2, 2022 by 11:59 PM Eastern Time
Full Proposal Due Date:   August 4, 2022 by 11:59 PM Eastern Time




The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) is requesting proposals to restore, protect and enhance native fish species of conservation concern, especially in areas on or adjacent to federal agency lands. Up to $510,000 in funding is available through support from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and U.S. Forest Service (USFS).




In 2022, the Bring Back the Native Fish program will provide funding to projects that produce measurable outcomes for native fish species of conservation concern. Priority projects will address the leading factors in native fish species decline such as habitat alteration, environmental change and invasive species. Projects benefiting one or more of the following native fish species and focal geographies are priorities for funding. Activities referenced in a NFWF business plan or a well-developed, comprehensive conservation strategy targeting these geographies/species will be most competitive.

  • Pacific lamprey, Chinook salmon and steelhead in the Columbia River Basin.
  • Salmon in the Central and Northern California coasts. 
  • Intermountain West native trout and char including Yellowstone/Snake River, Colorado River, San Juan, and Greenback cutthroat trout, bull trout, Apache trout, and Gila trout.
  • Native desert fishes in the arid southwest, including sucker, dace, pupfish, and other species, especially those with overlapping distributions with other native fish species of conservation priority.
  • Great Lakes native fishes, including lake sturgeon, lake trout and brook trout. 
  • Southern and southeastern native fish, especially endemic species of concern in the Cumberland, Tennessee and Mobile (Alabama/Coosa) River drainages.
  • Native fish of eastern U.S. rivers, especially depleted anadromous species such as river herring and American shad.
  • National Scope – See Innovation within the Priority Activities below.


Restoration activities that address key limiting factors for focal species are priorities for the Bring Back the Native Fish program. These include:

  • Restoring Connectivity — voluntary removal of culverts and passage barriers or flow restoration to connect fish to key spawning, rearing and refuge habitats. Proposals that describe how addressing a fragmentation issue fits into a broader connectivity strategy for a given watershed will be most competitive (e.g., culvert to be removed was ranked as the highest priority in a comprehensive culvert assessment).
  • Restoring Riparian, Instream Habitat, and Water Quality — improvement of instream habitat through hydrologic restoration, secondary channel reconnection to tributary/mainstems, and levee removal, breaching or setback to reconnect rivers to their floodplains; habitat complexity enhancement through large boulder addition, log jam creation, and wood recruitment improvement to streams through upland and riparian forest management; grazing management and the replanting of riparian areas with native vegetation to reduce stream temperature and enhance reciprocal exchanges between aquatic- terrestrial habitats; reduction of sediment delivery to streams through road maintenance/management; channel stabilization and re-aggradation through beaver restoration.
  • Invasive species management — eradication or control of invasive species that fundamentally alter habitat for native fish species or compete/hybridize with focal species of conservation concern. Proposals related to this activity should describe the context of the effort, i.e., is this a perpetual management issue, or eradication possible. If the proposal seeks short-term support for a longer-term invasive species removal effort the proposal should describe the timeline and overall estimated cost of the longer-term effort.
  • Innovation — development of decision support tools and innovative approaches to fish conservation including landscape-scale assessments to determine where to implement restoration to maximize native fish recovery; piloting innovative restoration techniques; the identification of key flow restoration thresholds that enhance fish habitat and water quality in flow-limited systems; and innovative public outreach methods such as those that crowd-source data/information needed for native fish conservation.



To better gauge progress on individual grants and to ensure greater consistency of project data provided by multiple grants, the Bring Back the Native Fish has a list of metrics in Easygrants for full proposal applicants to choose from for future 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 think an applicable metric has not been provided, please contact Kirstin Neff to discuss acceptable alternatives.

Project Activity Recommended Metric Additional Guidance
Population     Species Outcome - # individuals Enter the number of individuals before the project improvements as the Starting Value and the number of individuals expected after the project improvements as the Target Value. This metric should be used if a monitoring program for habitat use or invasive species is in place and you are evaluating change after project improvements.    
Fish passage improvements Habitat Restoration - # passage barriers rectified Enter the number of fish passage barriers improved or removed to allow fish passage. Clearly define in the notes the type of barrier and anticipated change in fish passage from the project and the context of this barrier(s) (i.e. 1 of 3 prioritized for this tributary, etc.)
Fish passage improvements Habitat Restoration – Miles of stream opened Enter the number of miles between the barrier removal/improvement site to the site of the next barrier/blockage upstream or the headwaters (whichever comes first). Provide a narrative of how this metric will be quantified in the notes section.
Restoring hydrology Habitat Restoration – Additional acre feet  Enter the number of additional acre feet of water entering the system per year as a result of BMPs, water transactions, hydrologic restoration, etc. undertaken as part of your project. Clearly describe the monitoring methods for this metric in your notes section.
Riparian restoration Habitat Restoration – Miles restored Enter the number of miles from this project for which habitat quality has been restored to support/increase target fish presence. If there are multiple activities happening at different parts of the stream you can break out in the notes the 'distance' of impact for each activity. If you are restoring other wetland habitat please explain in the notes and convert acres to miles.
Improved management practices Habitat Management – Acres under imp mgt (private)  Enter the number of privately owned acres that will directly benefit from activities through this project. 
Improved management practices Habitat Management – Acres under imp mgt (public) Enter the number of publicly owned acres that will directly benefit from activities through this project and list the ownership (e.g. US Forest Service).
Volunteer participation  Capacity, Outreach, Incentives - # volunteers participating  Enter the number of volunteers participating in the project.  Use the notes section to highlight if there are specific groups like fisheries associations, youth, veterans that are targeted for participation.  
Invasive animal or predator removal/ Fencing nests from predators Species-specific Strategies - # barriers created Enter the number of barriers created to prevent passage of non-native species




Eligible and Ineligible Entities

  • Eligible applicants include: local, state, federal, and tribal governments and agencies (e.g., townships, cities, boroughs), special districts (e.g., conservation districts, planning districts, utility districts), non-profit 501(c) organizations, educational institutions.
  • Ineligible applicants include: international organizations, businesses or unincorporated individuals.

Ineligible Uses of Grant Funds 

  • Funds from this program cannot support fee title land acquisition projects. However, funds may cover certain transaction costs associated with an acquisition (appraisals, title searches, surveys) and for conservation easements.
  • 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. 
  • Equipment: Applicants are encouraged to rent equipment where possible and cost-effective or use matching funds to make those purchases.  NFWF acknowledges, however, that some projects may only be completed using NFWF funds to procure equipment. If this applies to your project, please contact the program staff listed in this RFP to discuss options.
  • Federal funds and matching contributions may not be used to procure or obtain equipment, services, or systems (including entering into or renewing a contract) that uses telecommunications equipment or services produced by Huawei Technologies Company or ZTE Corporation (or any subsidiary or affiliate of such entities) as a substantial or essential component, or as critical technology of any system. Refer to Public Law 115-232, section 889 for additional information


Up to $510,000 in grant funds is available. Grant awards generally range in size from $50,000 to $100,000, although grants greater than $100,000 will be considered on a case by case basis.

Applicants must provide at least $1 in matching non-federal funds for every $1 of NFWF grant funds requested. Eligible non-federal matching sources can include cash, in-kind donations, and/or volunteer labor which are directly related to the project proposed for funding.



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

  • Project Need: Describe the native fish species at risk or potentially at risk, a description of its historic and current range, and its importance as part of the greater aquatic ecosystem, as well as the factors that have caused a decline in the species population(s). Proposals that effectively communicate the context for the project, in terms of how it fits into a broader restoration effort and why it addresses the most strategic need, will be the most competitive. In general, projects should be part of a larger, comprehensive plans (e.g., NFWF business plans, National Fish Habitat Action Plans (NFHAPs), watershed restoration plans) and result from a prioritization process. Please provide this context within the proposal.
  • Activities/Methods: Describe how each activity will be implemented and the anticipated timeline. Explain how these activities address the key limiting factors for a species of conservation concern. Describe how these activities relate to established plans (NFWF Initiative business plan, management, conservation, or recovery plans, etc.) and conservation needs. Discuss how this project either initiates or fits into larger efforts in the watershed, or, if this is a stand-alone project, how it will succeed in and of itself in restoring, protecting, or enhancing the species population(s).
  • Long-Term Conservation Outcome(s): Discuss the quantifiable/measurable long-term outcome(s) for fish habitat or populations that will be achieved, including how the project will enhance resilience to changing environmental conditions in native fish populations.

o    If the project supports implementation of a NFWF Initiative describe: 1) how the project helps achieve the goals described in the business plan of that Initiative, 2) how the project supports one or more of the strategies laid out in the NFWF business plan, and 3) how the proposed work supports efforts within the focal geography of the business plan.
o    If the project supports implementation of the National Fish Habitat Action Plan (NFHAP) and a Fish Habitat Partnership, describe how the project meets one or more of the NFHAP goals and strategies and how the outcomes will be measured and reported consistent with NFHAP guidelines. If the project has a NFHAP nexus, applicants are encouraged to include a letter of support from the relevant Fish Habitat Partnership with their proposal.

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.

Partnership and Community Impact – The applicant organization partners and engages collaboratively with diverse local community members, leaders, community-based organizations, and other relevant stakeholders to develop and implement the proposed project. This ensures long-term sustainability and success of the project, integration into local programs and policies, and community acceptance of proposed restoration actions. Non-traditional partners or communities are enlisted to broaden the sustained impact from the project. Describe the community characteristics of the project area, identify any communities impacted, describe outreach and community engagement activities and how those will be monitored and measured. Use demographic data to support descriptions and submit letters of support from community partners and/or collaborators demonstrating their commitment to the project and engagement in project activities as proposed.

Cost-Effectiveness – Cost-effectiveness analysis identifies the economically most efficient way to meet project objectives. Project includes a cost-effective budget that balances performance risk and efficient use of funds. Cost-effectiveness evaluation includes, but is not limited to, an assessment of effective direct/indirect costs across all categories in the proposed budget according to the type, size and duration of project and project objectives. Project budgets will be compared to similar projects to ensure proposed costs across all budget categories are reasonable for the activities being performed and the outcomes proposed.

Transferability – Project has potential and plan to transfer lessons learned to other communities and/or to be integrated into government programs and policies.

Communication – Project includes a detailed plan to communicate information about the project to appropriate audiences.

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.

Past Success – Applicant has a proven track record of success in implementing conservation practices with specific, measurable results.

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.) If the project has any nexus with USFS, USFWS and/or tribal lands or trust resources, please discuss their involvement in the project and request a letter of support from the appropriate office.


Applicant Demographic Information – In an effort to better understand diversity in our grantmaking, NFWF is collecting basic information on applicants and their organizations via a voluntary survey form (available in Easygrants). This information will not be shared externally or with reviewers and will not be considered when making grant decisions. For more details, please see the tip sheet and the Uploads section of Easygrants.

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.

Environmental Services – NFWF funds projects in pursuit of its mission to sustain, restore and enhance the nation's fish, wildlife, plants and habitats for current and future generations. NFWF recognizes that some benefits from projects may be of value with regards to credits on an environmental services market (such as a carbon credit market). NFWF does not participate in, facilitate, or manage an environmental services market nor does NFWF assert any claim on such credits. 

Intellectual Property – Intellectual property created using NFWF awards may be copyrighted or otherwise legally protected by award recipients. NFWF may reserve the right to use, publish, and copy materials created under awards, including posting such material on NFWF’s website and featuring it in publications. NFWF may use project metrics and spatial data from awards to estimate societal benefits that result and to report these results to funding partners. These may include but are not limited to: habitat and species response, species connectivity, water quality, water quantity, risk of detrimental events (e.g., wildfire, floods), carbon accounting (e.g., sequestration, avoided emissions), environmental justice, and diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Matching Contributions – Matching Contributions consist of cash, contributed goods and services, volunteer hours, and/or property raised and spent for the Project during the Period of Performance. Larger match ratios and matching fund contributions from a diversity of partners are encouraged and will be more competitive during application review.

Procurement – If the applicant chooses to specifically identify proposed Contractor(s) for Services, an award by NFWF to the applicant does not 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 – Projects selected may be subject to requirements under the National Environmental Policy Act, Endangered Species Act (state and federal), 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.  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.

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.

Quality Assurance – If a project involves significant monitoring, data collection or data use, grantees will be asked to prepare and submit quality assurance documentation (  Applicants should budget time and resources to complete this task.

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.



Dates of activities are subject to change.  Please check the Bring Back the Native Fish program page of the NFWF website for the most current dates and information.

Applicant Webinar [View Recording]   May 19, 2022, at 1:00PM Eastern Time
Pre-Proposal Due Date June 2, 2022, by 11:59PM Eastern Time
Invitations for Full Proposals Sent Early July, 2022
Full Proposal Due Date August 4, 2022, by 11:59PM Eastern Time
Review Period   August – September 2022
Awards Announced   Early November 2022


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

  1. Go to 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. Please disable the pop-up blocker on your internet browser prior to beginning the application process. 
  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.



A Tip Sheet is available for quick reference while you are working through your application. 

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:, (303) 222-6485
or, (202) 857-0166

For issues or assistance with our online Easygrants system, please contact:
Easygrants Helpdesk
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.