Mojave Desert Tortoise Recovery Partnership 2022 Request for Proposals

Applicant Webinar [View Recording]: Wednesday, January 26th 2022
at 3:00pm-4:00pm Eastern / 12:00pm -1:00pm Pacific

Full Proposal Due Date: Thursday, March 3rd 2022     
by 11:59pm Eastern / 8:59pm Pacific

 

OVERVIEW


The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) is requesting proposals to restore, protect and enhance populations of Mojave desert tortoise and their habitat in California’s western Mojave Desert. Up to $2.1 million in funding is expected to be available through support from the Department of the Navy, Department of Defense, Department of the Army, U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and BNSF Railway. 

 

GEOGRAPHIC FOCUS/PROGRAM FUNDING PRIORITIES


This Request for Proposals (RFP) is part of NFWF’s Mojave Desert Tortoise Recovery Partnership, and will provide funding to projects that produce measurable outcomes for the threatened Mojave desert tortoise in California’s western Mojave Desert. Priority will be given to projects that address desert tortoise conservation needs in one or more of six focal areas in the Western Mojave Recovery Unit (Figure 1). Highway exclusion fencing projects located in areas in Figure 2 within the western Mojave Desert will be prioritized for funding. Priority projects will address the leading factors in Mojave desert tortoise decline such as habitat alteration and fragmentation, environmental change and tortoise mortality. The primary goal of this program is to marshal resources in a coordinated manner to work to recover the species by protecting Mojave desert tortoises from threats and restoring critical habitat. 

Conservation activities referenced in NFWF’s Mojave Desert Tortoise Recovery Implementation Plan will be most competitive. NFWF expects to publish the Plan on the Partnership website in mid-February.

Figure 1
Figure 1. Mojave Desert Tortoise RASP Implementation Plan focal areas and priority highway fencing segments in the Western Mojave Recovery Unit. Priority fencing segments include: (1) I-40 Daggett to Newberry Springs, CA; (3) I-40 National Trails West of Pigsah, CA; (5) I-40 West of Van Winkle Wash to E of Essex Rd, CA; (7) I-15 North of Barstow, CA; (8) I-40 North of Black Ridge, CA; (11) I-40 Old Dad Mountains, CA; and (13) I-40 Kalbaker Rd, CA.

 

PRIORITY ACTIVITIES

Priority recovery activities that address key limiting factors for Mojave desert tortoise in California’s western Mojave Desert include:

Coordinator shared-stewardship position for the Recovery and Sustainment Partnership Initiative (RASP) – Create capacity for upscaling Mojave desert tortoise conservation activities on BLM land by hiring a RASP coordinator to be co-located in a BLM office in California’s Mojave Desert.


Improve tortoise road crossings – Install, repair or enhance tortoise exclusion fencing along priority highways to reduce tortoise highway mortality. Install, repair or enhance culverts or other underpass structures along barrier fencing to mitigate effects of habitat fragmentation and allow for safe tortoise movement across highways.
Closure of unauthorized routes – Install signs on unauthorized routes to indicate route closures. Restore habitat along unauthorized routes through vertical mulching and other restoration activities in order to establish defensible polygons of tortoise habitat.


Habitat Restoration - Improve native species habitat function and health for Mojave desert tortoise within defensible polygons or along closed OHV routes. Priority actions may include de-compacting unauthorized routes, control of non-native-invasive species, native seeding and outplanting in areas where accessible to help native plants reestablish.


Community outreach and education – Design and implement community outreach and education programs to promote Mojave desert tortoise awareness and reduce harmful human-tortoise interactions. Projects that include outreach to local education institutions and schools would be prioritized over signing and passive outreach.  Projects that provide for field base education programs in the focal areas.


Species monitoring – Support ongoing and new Mojave desert tortoise monitoring and analysis, particularly for population demographics, to inform progress towards medium-term population objectives and inform conservation decision making. Priority will be given to monitoring efforts that are proposed in association with habitat protection or restoration projects and include adaptive management plans.


PROJECT METRICS


To better gauge progress on individual grants and to ensure greater consistency of project data provided by multiple grant projects, the Mojave Desert Tortoise Recovery Partnership has a list of metrics in Easygrants for full proposal applicants to choose from for reporting (commonly used metrics are shown in the table below). We ask that you select the most relevant metrics from this list for your project. If you do not believe an applicable metric has been provided, please contact Kirstin Neff (Kirstin.Neff@nfwf.org) to discuss acceptable alternatives.

Project Activity Recommended Metric Additional Guidance
Establish defensible polygons of Mojave desert tortoise habitat Habitat Conservation – Site protection – # of acres with enhanced protection Enter the total number of acres protected within an estimated defensible polygon.
Restore or enhance Mojave desert tortoise habitat Habitat Restoration – Land restoration – Acres restored Enter the number of acres actively restored for Mojave desert tortoise habitat, and describe the restoration activities in the metric notes.
Produce native plants for Mojave desert tortoise habitat restoration Habitat Restoration – Plant cultivation – # seedlings propagated Enter the number of seedlings propagated for Mojave desert tortoise habitat restoration.
Collect native seeds for Mojave desert tortoise habitat restoration Habitat Restoration – Seed harvesting – lbs harvested Enter the number of pounds of seeds collected.
Improve infrastructure to reduce Mojave desert tortoise highway mortality Habitat Management – BMP implementation for fencing improvements – Miles of fencing installed Enter the number of miles of new highway exclusion fencing installed.
Improve infrastructure to reduce Mojave desert tortoise highway mortality Habitat Management – BMP implementation for fencing improvements – Miles of fencing improved Enter the number of miles of highway exclusion fencing repaired.
Close unauthorized OHV routes to protect Mojave desert tortoise habitat Habitat Management – BMP implementation to mitigate recreational disturbance – # of sites with BMPs Enter the number of sites with vertical mulching conducted and/or physical barriers installed to discourage use of unauthorized OHV routes.
Establish defensible polygons of Mojave desert tortoise habitat Habitat Management – Improved management practices – Number of sites under improved management Enter the number of defensible restoration polygons established.
Create a RASP Coordinator position to accelerate conservation and monitoring efforts Capacity, Outreach, Incentives – Economic benefits – # jobs created  Enter the number of RASP Coordinator positions created.
Close unauthorized OHV routes to protect Mojave desert tortoise habitat  Capacity, Outreach, Incentives – Outreach/ Education/ Technical Assistance – # of educational signs installed Enter the number of signs displaying permitted use installed on unauthorized OHV routes.
Engage public land users regarding Mojave desert tortoise conservation needs  Capacity, Outreach, Incentives – Outreach/ Education/ Technical Assistance – # people targeted   Enter the number of people targeted to participate in a conservation action via social media, email, newsletters, in-person activities or other outreach, training, or technical assistance activities.
Engage public land users regarding Mojave desert tortoise conservation needs  Capacity, Outreach, Incentives – Outreach/ Education/ Technical Assistance – # people reached  Enter the number of people who responded positively to outreach, training, or technical assistance activities, for example by signing up for an event, distribution list, or meeting with a conservation professional. This should be a subset of # people targeted to engage in conservation actions.
Improve infrastructure to reduce Mojave desert tortoise highway mortality  Species-specific Strategies – Improving migration corridors - # of road crossings installed Enter the number of new highway underpasses such as culverts installed.
Improve infrastructure to reduce Mojave desert tortoise highway mortality   Species-specific Strategies – Improving migration corridors - # of road crossing improvements  Enter the number of new highway underpasses such as culverts repaired or improved.
Expand species monitoring to new and additional sites  Planning, Research, Monitoring – Monitoring – # sites being monitored  Enter the number of new population monitoring sites for Mojave desert tortoise.
Comply with state and federal data collection and management standards Planning, Research, Monitoring – Monitoring – # of studies whose findings are reported to management  Enter the number of datasets or monitoring reports produced and entered into relevant databases

 

ELIGIBILITY

 

Eligible and Ineligible Entities

  • Eligible applicants include: local, state, federal, and tribal governments and agencies (e.g., counties, cities, towns), 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 

  • 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

 

FUNDING AVAILABILITY AND MATCH


Up to $2.1 million in grant funds is available. We anticipate making 3-5 grant awards in this cycle. 

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

 

EVALUATION CRITERIA


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 relevance of the project for conservation of the focal species, and its relationship to any prioritization process or species conservation plan. 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. 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 one or more key factors limiting the focal species. Describe how these activities relate to established plans and conservation needs. Discuss how this project either initiates or fits into larger efforts in the Recovery Unit, 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 habitat or populations that will be achieved, including how the project will enhance resilience to changing environmental conditions in native aquatic populations. Describe how the project helps achieve the goals described in the Mojave Desert Tortoise Recovery Implementation Plan.

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. Project includes a plan for securing appropriate environmental and cultural clearances.

Cost-Effectiveness – Project includes a cost-effective budget that balances performance risk and efficient use of funds.  Cost-effectiveness evaluation may include, but is not limited to, an assessment of either or both direct and indirect costs in the proposed budget. The federal government has determined that a de minimis 10% indirect rate is an acceptable minimum for organizations without a NICRA, as such NFWF reserves the right to scrutinize ALL proposals with indirect rates above 10% for cost-effectiveness.  

Early Demonstration Value – Priority will be given to projects that can demonstrate significant success or completion within 18 months of award.

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. In particular, the project fits within existing land use management plans for the region, including the West Mojave Route Network Project Land Use Plan Amendment, Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan, and the FWS’ 2011 Revised Recovery Plan for the Mojave Population of the Desert Tortoise. The applicant should indicate the context of their proposed projects within these or other relevant plans that promote Mojave desert tortoise conservation. 

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 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and/or tribal lands or trust resources, please discuss their involvement in the project and request a letter of support from the appropriate office.


OTHER  

 

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.

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), Wilderness 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.  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.

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.


TIMELINE


Dates of activities are subject to change. Please check the Desert Tortoise Recovery Partnership page  of the NFWF website for the most current dates and information.

Applicant Webinar [Register Here]   January 26, 2022, 3:00pm-4:00pm EST / 12:00pm -1:00pm PST
Full Proposal Due Date   Mar. 3rd, 11:59pm EST/ 8:59pm PST
Review Period    March – May 2022
Awards Announced  May 2022

 


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. 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.


APPLICATION ASSISTANCE 

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: 
Kirstin.Neff@nfwf.org, 303-222-6485
or
Hannah.Karlan@nfwf.org 202-595-2430

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.