Desert Terminal Lakes Restoration Fund 2020 Request for Proposals

Applicant Webinar [View Recording]: September 17, 2020 at 11:00 AM Pacific Time
Full Proposal Due Date: October 20, 2020 by 8:59 PM Pacific Time


The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) is requesting proposals to restore, protect, and enhance riparian and watershed resources in the greater Desert Terminal Lakes (DTL) geography in Nevada and California. A terminal lake is formed at the end point of an enclosed watershed basin. These lakes have no outlets and, therefore, are greatly affected by variations in water flows caused by upstream activities, such as diversions of surface water, groundwater pumping, and changes in the hydrologic cycle. This geography includes Walker, Pyramid, and Summit Lakes as well as associated resources in the Truckee River Basin, Carson River Basin, Walker River Basin, and Summit Lake Basin. The Desert Terminal Lakes Restoration Fund will award approximately $1 million in grants in partnership with the Bureau of Reclamation.


To be eligible for funding, projects must occur within the Desert Terminal Lakes geography in Nevada and California which includes Walker, Pyramid, and Summit Lakes as well as associated resources in the Truckee River Basin, Carson River Basin, Walker River Basin, and Summit Lake Basin.


Figure 1. Geographic priorities for DTL funding. Bolded lakes hold top priority.


NFWF will provide funding to projects that provide water to at-risk natural desert terminal lakes and/or protect and conserve associated riparian and watershed resources. All proposed projects must meet the current DTL authority (PL 101-171 Section 2507, as amended) and comply with the NFWF funding policies as set forth below. 

The top priorities for this funding are:

  1.  Purchase land, water appurtenant to the land, and related interests from willing sellers in order to permanently improve flows and ecosystem health in at-risk natural desert terminal lakes.
  2.  Lease water from willing participants in order to improve flows and ecosystem health in at-risk natural desert terminal lakes.
  3.  Conserve fish, wildlife, plant and habitat resources in the at-risk natural desert terminal lakes region. 

Funds can also be used to evaluate the results of acquiring water rights and leasing water from willing sellers as well as research, monitoring, and assessment of conservation efforts in DTL region.


To better gauge progress on individual grants and to ensure greater consistency of project data provided by multiple grants, the Desert Terminal Lakes Restoration Fund 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 Femke Freiberg ( to discuss acceptable alternatives.

Project Activity Recommended Metric Additional Guidance
Water acquisitions or leases Acre feet of water purchased Enter the acre feet of water purchased 
Land, wetland restoration Acres restored Enter the number of acres restored
Plant cultivation # seedlings propagated Please enter the number of seedlings propagated
Removal of invasives Acres retreated Enter the number of acres of invasives retreated
Restoring hydrology CFS of water conserved annually Enter the CFS of water to be conserved annually
Capacity, Outreach, Incentives # people reached Enter the number of people reached by outreach, training, or technical assistance activities
Planning, Research, Monitoring # sites being monitored Enter the # sites being monitored


Eligible and Ineligible Entities

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

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. 


Up to $1M in grant funds is available. We anticipate making 6-8 grant awards in this cycle with average award size in the range of $100,000-$250,000.

Matching funds of 1:1 are encouraged. 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.


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.

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.

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.  

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.)


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), 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.

  • The Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) manages the Desert Terminal Lakes Program and associated grant, interagency, and Native American PL 93-638 agreements.  Reclamation is the lead federal agency responsible for any federal environmental compliance (e.g., NEPA, NHPA, ESA) associated with DTL funding.  Proposals selected by NFWF for funding under this RFP that require environmental compliance will likely have a portion of the funding withheld from their grant award to allow NFWF to reimburse Reclamation for environmental compliance costs unless all necessary environmental compliance is provided through another federal agency.

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.


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

  Applicant Webinar [View Recording September 17, 2020 at 11:00AM Pacific Time
  Full Proposal Due Date October 20, 2020 by 8:59 PM Pacific Time
  Review Period November 2020 – February 2021
  Awards Announced  Early March 2021



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. 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: 

Femke Freiberg
Senior Manager, California Water Programs
(415) 243-3104

Kate Morgan
Coordinator, Water Investments
(202) 595-2469 

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.