Request for Proposals: Environmental Compliance Support

 Proposal Deadline:  November 20, 2018

OVERVIEW

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) seeks a qualified contractor to provide environmental compliance support for our Pacific Southwest Fuels Management Program in California.   

PROGRAM BACKGROUND

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) is soliciting proposals to plan and implement fuels management projects on select National Forest System (NFS) lands within California. In our third year of partnership, the goal of the Pacific Southwest Fuels Management Strategic Investments Partnership (Fuels Partnership) is to identify and fund fuel management projects that reduce the risk of severe wildfire, protect ecological values of USFS restoration investments, and reduce the risk of damage to public and private improvements near USFS lands. These funds are derived from USFS appropriations for fuels management. 

A century of widespread fire exclusion and changes in forest management have resulted in a buildup of surface fuels and the overstocking of California forests with trees and ladder fuels. The resulting forest health problems are widespread and increasing, affecting wildlife habitat, water quality and quantity and long-term soil productivity. The buildup of flammable vegetation due to past management, drought conditions, and insect and disease-related tree mortality have made managing fire riskier, more complex, and more costly. With climate and vegetation conditions contributing to longer annual fire seasons, agency capacity and resources for fire suppression to protect communities, natural resources and infrastructure are stretched thin. 

The unique ecological process of wildfire recycles nutrients back into the soil and creates a post-fire mosaic of successional vegetative habitats that are important for wildlife mating and nesting. Many plants in fire-adapted forests, including the knobcone pine, Bishop pine, and Sargent cypress, have seed cones that require the heat of a fire to open; the seeds of others, including the Giant Sequoia, germinate best on burned or bare mineral soil.

Properly designed and implemented fuels management treatments can decrease the intensity of future wildland fires and restore a healthier natural fire regime to support biodiverse forest ecosystems. Fuel management work in upper watersheds is used to maintain and protect important meadow and riparian habitats. Fuels management projects are designed to improve overall forest health, improving habitat for important species including Clark’s nutcracker and northern goshawk. Some projects are designed to encourage maturation of old forest stands, which provide important habitat for Pacific fisher and California spotted owl. This year, a particular focus will be made on protecting and enhancing habitat important for the conservation of the California spotted owl – a species whose habitat is particularly at risk from catastrophic fire.  

SCOPE OF WORK

CONTRACT SCOPE 

The purpose of the contract is to retain a contractor who can provide the requisite NEPA project management and documentation; and who specializes in managing the NEPA process, the formulation of resource reports, and completing legally compliant NEPA documents to carryout projects within the scope of our Pacific Southwest Fuels Management Program to protect and enhance habitat and nesting sites important for the California Spotted Owl who are a currently being considered for listing under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The focus of this project will take place on the Stanislaus National Forest.

The selected contractor will provide turn-key NEPA services, including performing  all required document preparation, document distribution, agency meeting coordination, and public involvement leadership and documentation on behalf of the U.S. Forest Service (USFS).  The selected contractor will also provide documentation preparation and assistance with the administrative review process in accordance with 36 CFR 218 for projects documented in an EA or EIS.  The projects will require either documentation that the project falls under a Categorical Exclusion (CE), Environmental Assessment (EA), programmatic NEPA or other means in which to implement work to help protect the California Spotted Owl. As appropriate, the selected contractor should consider development of NEPA documents that provide opportunities to maximize effort and provide readiness for future projects.

The selected contractor will be required to develop schedules of work with timelines, milestones, and dependencies for each NEPA project developed. The selected contractor will track progress on meeting NEPA requirements and provide USFS and NFWF staff with progress updates.  The selected contractor will submit all documents to the USFS for review and approval at established points throughout the NEPA process.

At a minimum, the following project activities requiring NEPA documentation will be addressed through this program: 

  • Eradication of invasive botanical species which impact California Spotted Owl;
  • Reduction of fuels which threaten habitat and nesting sites of the California Spotted Owl;
  • Where appropriate and necessary, the introduction of prescribed fire to mitigate the potential damage of a catastrophic fire on habitat important for the California Spotted Owl.

A qualified contractor will do the following:

  • Work with NFWF, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Sierra Pacific Industries to identify areas where nesting sites for the California Spotted Owl,
  • Aid in organization and management of necessary federal environmental compliance documents to carryout future implementation of projects identified under our Pacific Southwest Fuels Management Program to protect these species and its habitat from catastrophic fire, 
  • Liaise with NFWF, USFS, and Sierra Pacific Industries with regard to mapping the known sites in order to appropriately evaluate every site for the proper environmental compliance documentation needed.

The awarded contractor will perform the activities listed above to benefit the California Spotted Owl for select NFWF Western Regional Office programs which will include the following programs but are not limited to: 

ACTIVITIES AND RELATED DELIVERABLES

The contract activities and deliverables will include:

  1. IDENTIFY ANALYSIS LEVEL – Work with the Forest Supervisor and/or their environmental designee on the Stanislaus National Forest to identify areas inhabited by the California Spotted Owl to ensure sufficient data and detail is included to analyze the effects of the proposal, and provide the USFS a recommendation for the type of environmental compliance documentation is needed.
  2. DEVELOP AND MANAGE WORK PLAN – Develop and manage a detailed work plan beginning with initiation of NEPA through completion of the NEPA decision.  Work plan will include specific tasks, when they will be completed and specific personnel that will be involved, preparation time, and review time for each draft by the LPNF. The work plan will conform to minimum timelines established in Forest Service Manual 1950 and Forest Service Handbook 1909.15, and regulations at 36 CFR 218 and 36 CFR 220. The work plan will include an assessment of existing data, preliminary identification of additional data needs for each project, and preliminary identification of specific technical reports required. The USFS Responsible Official(s) will approve the final work plan and any subsequent updates in consideration of other USFS priorities, available personnel and funding.
  3. COMPLETE RESOURCE ANALYSIS AND REPORTS – Coordinate a team of resource specialists to compile the appropriate information necessary for completing reports such as NEPA, Biological Assessments (BA) or Biological Opinions (BO) to ultimately guide the implementation of projects aimed to protect and/or enhance habitat important for the California Sotted Owl.  NEPA documents and supporting documents/reports. Ensure that resource specialists have contacted the USFS specialists early on to gather relevant resource data that has already been collected, and USFS resource specific analysis, formatting, and documentation requirements. Conduct any surveys or collect on-site field data if no data is currently available and as deemed necessary.  The types of reports may include, but are not limited to: Biological Assessment for Federally threatened, endangered, or proposed species, Biological Evaluation for Forest Service sensitive species, Migratory Bird Treaty Act analysis, Weed Risk Assessment, Cultural Resources Survey and Assessment, Hydrology and Soils Report, etc.
  4. PUBLIC INVOLVEMENT AND COMMENT – Draft and/or edit letters to the public, and upon review by the USFS distribute the letters to interested and affected individuals. Also organize, manage, and record notes for public meetings that are determined to be necessary. Contractor will collect public responses. Submit a scoping comment summary report following USFS protocol and format that summarizes results of scoping to the USFS. The report should identify key issues from public comments and recommendations on how to address them (i.e. additional alternatives (EA), mitigations, or through analysis of environmental effects). In addition, for EAs suggested alternatives, and recommendations on whether to analyze the alternative in detail, or consider, but eliminate from detailed study.
  5. PREPARE DOCUMENTATION – Organize, write, and edit all documents required by NEPA regulations and Forest Service policy in coordination with LPNF Responsible Official(s). The documents will follow the CEQ Regulations, USFS Manual 1950, Handbook 1909.15, 36 CFR 220, and 36 CFR 218 for NEPA implementation.
  6. PRE-DECISIONAL OBJECTION PROCEDURES – For EAs and EISs only, provide documentation preparation and assistance with the pre-decisional administrative review process in accordance with 36 CFR 218.  
  7. MAINTAIN PROJECT RECORDS – Compile and maintain an up-to-date Project Record for each NEPA project, consisting of all documents relevant to the respective project analysis and decisions to be made. The records will be indexed and maintained in electronic format, with limited exceptions for reference books or certain other documents. Some records may need to be scanned in order to meet this minimum requirement.
  8. COORDINATION WITH NFWF AND USFS, AND NEPA APPROVAL – The contractor must receive approval from USFS (while informing NFWF) at the following key points before proceeding further with the NEPA process:
    • NEPA analysis level and proposed action sufficiency 
    • Project Work Plan.
    • Public involvement strategy, distribution list, and letters.
    • Scoping Analysis Report identifying key issues from public comments and recommendations on how to address them (i.e. additional alternatives, mitigations, or through analysis of environmental effects), as well as suggested alternatives, and recommendations on whether to analyze the alternative in detail, or consider, but eliminate from detailed study.
    • Draft Decision Memo (DM) or CE checklist; Draft EA or EIS, cover letter, legal notice, and distribution list; any required specialist reports.
    • Comment analysis and response report featuring identification of and response to comments received during the regulatory comment period. (EA and EIS only.)
    • Final EA or EIS, and draft Decision Notice and Finding of No Significant Impact (DN & FONSI) or Record of Decision (ROD); legal notice, public letter, and distribution list for objection filing (if applicable per 36 CFR 218).
    • Final decision document (CE checklist, DM, DN & FONSI, ROD). The Responsible Official(s) will provide final approval prior to signature and publication.

CRITERIA FOR COMPETITIVE APPLICATIONS

The evaluation criteria listed below will be used to evaluate proposals for the purpose of ranking them based on how fully each proposal meets the requirements of this RFP. Offerors may be asked to modify objectives, work plans, or budgets prior to final approval of the award. 

  1. Understanding of the Scope of Work.  A statement demonstrating a thorough understanding of NEPA, providing technical expertise in completing environmental affects analysis, managing the NEPA process, and drafting NEPA documents for federal agency review and approval. In addition, the proposal must demonstrate a capacity to manage multiple NEPA compliance projects simultaneously in order to maximize schedule and effectively ready restoration projects for implementation. (25%)

  2. Technical Approach.  The proposed technical approach for fulfilling the scope of work must demonstrate familiarity and proficiency in understanding the NEPA process. (25%)

  3. Qualifications of Proposed Personnel.  The proposal should describe relevant professional experience in the following areas: (a) experience dealing with Federal, state, and local governmental agencies, as well as national and local NGOs involved and familiar with ESA, NEPA, and experience completing NEPA for the Forest Service, if any; (b) an understanding of conducting NEPA generally, and preparing NEPA documents, specifically; (c) biographies including resumes and/or vitae of key staff and their role in your proposed work area. (20%)

  4. Contractor’s Past Performance.  Preference will be given to those who have specialized in NEPA and/or ESA documentation on U.S. Forest Service lands with experience writing resource reports for California aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems.  In addition, the applicant needs to showcase its experience working cooperatively with the U.S. Forest Service and have examples of NEPA documentation that they have provided the agency.  The proposal should include: (a) information on the principal investigator(s)’s past performance related to the NEPA technical expertise you will be offering; (b) list recent (last 2-5 years) accomplishments, events and previous services related to the NEPA technical expertise you will be offering; (c) references including a list of three clients who have received services from your organization that is similar in nature to the proposed work; include names, postal and email addresses, and telephone numbers. (15%)

  5. Cost Proposal.  The cost proposal budget should be cost effective and should maximize the value for monies requested in the offeror’s budget. Proposal costs should be presented in a ‘time and materials, not to exceed’ format. Proposal costs should be the minimum necessary to adequately achieve the stated scope of work. Profit/profit margin must be separately itemized in the budget. Offerors must use the 2016 Contractor Budget Template available through the Easy Grants online application portal. (15%)

CONFLICT OF INTEREST / ELIGIBLE OFFERORS

Eligible applicants are nonprofits and for-profit organizations. Only one award will be made for this contract. If multiple institutions are involved, they should be handled through sub-awards and sub-contracts.

By submitting a Proposal in response to this solicitation, the offeror warrants and represents that it does not currently have any apparent or actual conflict of interest, as described herein.  In the event an offeror currently has, will have during the life of the contemplated contract, or becomes aware of an apparent or actual conflict of interest, in the event an award is made, the offeror must notify NFWF in writing in the Proposal, or in subsequent correspondence (if the issue becomes known after the submission of the Proposal) of such apparent or actual conflicts of interest, including organizational conflicts of interest.  Conflicts of interest include any relationship or matter which might place the contractor, the contractor’s employees, or the contractor’s subcontractors in a position of conflict, real or apparent, between their responsibilities under the award and any other outside interests, or otherwise.  Conflicts of interest may also include, but are not limited to, direct or indirect financial interests, close personal relationships, positions of trust in outside organizations, consideration of future employment arrangements with a different organization, or decision-making affecting the award that would cause a reasonable person with knowledge of the relevant facts to question the impartiality of the offeror, the offeror’s employees, or the offeror’s future subcontractors in the matter.  Upon receipt of such a notice, the NFWF Contracting Officer will determine if a conflict of interest exists and, if so, if there are any possible actions to be taken by the offeror to reduce or resolve the conflict.  Failure to resolve conflicts of interest in a manner that satisfies NFWF may result in the proposal not being selected for award.  

By submitting a Proposal in response to this solicitation, the Offeror warrants and represents that it is eligible for award of a Contract resulting from this solicitation and that it is not subject to any of the below circumstances:

  • Has any unpaid Federal tax liability that has been assessed, for which all judicial and administrative remedies have been exhausted or have lapsed, and that is not being paid in a timely manner pursuant to an Contract with the authority responsible for collecting the tax liability, where the awarding agency is aware of the unpaid tax liability, unless the agency has considered suspension or debarment of the corporation and made a determination that this further action is not necessary to protect the interests of the Government; or

  • Was convicted (or had an officer or agent of such corporation acting on behalf of the corporation convicted) of a felony criminal violation under any Federal or State law within the preceding 24 months, where the awarding agency is aware of the conviction, unless the agency has considered suspension or debarment of the corporation and made a determination that this further action is not necessary to protect the interests of the Government; or

  • Is listed on the General Services Administration’s, government-wide System for Award Management Exclusions (SAM Exclusions), in accordance with the OMB guidelines at 2 C.F.R Part 180 that implement E.O.s 12549 (3 C.F.R., 1986 Comp., p. 189) and 12689 (3 C.F.R., 1989 Comp., p. 235), “Debarment and Suspension, ” or intends to enter into any subaward, contract or other Contract using funds provided by NFWF with any party listed on the SAM Exclusions in accordance with Executive Orders 12549 and 12689. The SAM Exclusions can be found at https://www.sam.gov/portal/public/SAM/. 

SUBMISSION DEADLINES

ELIGIBLE APPLICANTS

Eligible applicants are nonprofit organizations, for-profit businesses, and individual consultants. Qualified, certified Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBE) (small, minority and women-owned businesses) are strongly encouraged to apply.

SELECTION PROCEDURE

A panel of NFWF staff will review proposals submitted in response to the RFP. The panel will assess each proposal according to the project description and evaluation criteria.  Applicants may be asked to modify objectives, work plans, or budgets prior to final approval of the award.  One contractor will be selected to meet the scope of work. Specific funding amounts will be negotiated with the Foundation and additional funding will be considered annually based upon the expressed needs of the programs. 

SUBMISSION REQUIREMENTS

Proposals must be submitted under the same cover at the same time, in three distinctly labeled and separate documents: 1) Technical Proposal, 2) Cost Proposal, and 3) Evidence of Financial Stability.  Interested parties should submit proposals electronically to NFWF (Jonathan Birdsong, jonathan.birdsong@nfwf.org) using the requirements below:

  1. Technical Proposal
    • Format: Proposals must be provided in Word format or searchable PDF with a font size no smaller than 11 pt.
    • Contact information: Primary contact person, company name, address, phone, email, website, DUNS number, and EIN/Taxpayer ID#.
    • Narrative: Concise (5-page limit) description of the work plan and a summary of the applicant’s expertise and experience. List recent (last 2-5 years) accomplishments and previous services related to the technical expertise offered. Provide previous maps with brief explanation/caption for work performed. 
    • Biographies: Resumes and/or Vitae of key staff and their role in the proposed work area.
    • ​References: List two clients who have received services from the applicant that is similar in nature to the proposed work; include names, phone numbers, and email address. 
  2. Cost Proposal: The Cost Proposal includes the proposal budget and budget justification. The cost proposal must be submitted using the following NFWF  budget template.
  3. Evidence of Financial Stability: The applicant shall provide with the RFP response, proof of financial stability in the form of financial statements, credit ratings, a line of credit, or other financial arrangements sufficient to demonstrate the applicant’s capability to meet the requirements of this RFP.

Applicants should submit questions regarding this RFP via e-mail to Jonathan Birdsong (jonathan.birdsong@nfwf.org).  NFWF will post a Frequently Asked Questions document for questions of general interest at www.nfwf.org/pswfuels​ throughout the open RFP period. 

RFP DEADLINES (SUBJECT TO CHANGE)

10/31/18
RFP opens. NFWF will answer questions and answers during the open RFP period.
11/20/18
​RFP due to Jonathan Birdsong (Jonthan.Birdsong@nfwf.org) by 5 PM PST
11/21/18 – 12/15/18
​RFP review period with follow-up questions as needed

REQUESTING ORGANIZATION: National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), 90 New Montgomery St. Suite 1010; San Francisco, CA 94105

CONTACT: Jonathan Birdsong, 415-243-3101, Jonathan Birdsong@nfwf.org​  ​​​​​

 

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