Unassessed Waters Initiative 2017 Request for Proposals

Full Proposal Due Date: Tuesday, February 7, 2017 by 11:59 PM Eastern Standard Time


The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, in partnership with the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission (PFBC), is soliciting proposals to sample previously unassessed waters in identified priority watersheds throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The primary threat to unassessed wild trout waters is inadequate water quality protection due to the unknown condition of the trout population and the resulting lack of stream classification that allows permitting actions that are not properly conditioned to protect wild trout. The goal is to identify those waters that contain populations of Eastern brook trout and other wild trout, indicating exceptional water quality and good overall stream health. This will enable the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to set appropriate protection standards, which are then used to permit development activities in watersheds. For 2017, $100,000 in funding is available from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Pennsylvania is fortunate to have a vast flowing water resource comprised of more than 83,000 miles of flowing water (Pa. DEP 2006). As of January 2017, the PFBC and its partners have surveyed 9,192 streams comprising about 32,442 miles. Of this total, there have been 4,295 stream sections (14,338 miles) in which wild trout have been documented and designated by the PFBC. (PFBC 2016).There is another 3,305 miles that by PFBC policy are classified as wild trout streams by virtue of the fact they lie upstream of documented wild trout waters. This results in a total of 16,934 miles of designated wild trout streams. Although Pennsylvania contains 62,725 streams totaling 83,286 miles of flowing water, only 13% of the streams and 37% of the total stream miles are being actively managed. Of the waters remaining, 74% are less than a mile in length and likely have only perennial flow or will be dry and unable to support a fishery. However, many will likely support wild trout populations.
All Commonwealth waters have a designated use, which determines the protection standards that the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) uses to permit development activities in watersheds. Wild trout streams should be protected at a minimum under the Cold Water Fishes (CWF) designation in 25 Pa. Code Chapter 93 because of their ability to support or maintain a population of wild trout. DEP independently confirms that streams are wild trout waters by reviewing and verifying the PFBC’s data. Wetlands located in or along the floodplain of wild trout streams are protected as Exceptional Value Wetlands in 25 Pa. Code Chapter 105. This is the Commonwealth’s highest level of wetland protection.
Some wild trout streams receive additional protection under the Commonwealth’s special protection waters program (Pa. DEP 2003) and are designated as either High Quality Cold Water Fishes (HQ-CWF) or Exceptional Value (EV) based upon their biological and social characteristics. Stream and wetland encroachment permits issued for development in watersheds that contain wild trout populations often include a seasonal restriction (no work from October 1 to December 31) to minimize impacts during the time trout are spawning.


It is suggested, though not required, that projects occur within the Eligible Project Areas depicted in the above 2017 Priority Watersheds Map The map depicts HUC-12 watersheds.


  • Stream Sampling: The priority of the Unassessed Waters Initiative is to expand the number and miles of streams officially designated as wild trout by examining waters that have not been inventoried to date in areas that are especially vulnerable to development in the near term. As such, the Unassessed Waters Initiative will fund qualified organizations to carry out sampling activities following the PFBC sampling protocols in at least one of the priority watersheds identified in the 2017 Priority Watersheds Map.
  • Program Innovation: Implement a pilot protocol to integrate habitat/culvert assessments into the Unassessed Waters Program monitoring protocol. This work will help identify barriers to fish passage for wild trout and provide the data to the North Atlantic Aquatic Connectivity Collaborative (NAACC), which is the central data storehouse for the Northeastern states. Data collected will help identify priority barriers for removal or replacement.


To better gauge progress on individual grants and to ensure greater consistency of project data provided by multiple grants, the Unassessed Waters Initiative 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
Capacity, Outreach, Incentives UW - Volunteer participation - # volunteers participating Enter the number of volunteers who participated directly in the sampling.
Planning, Research, Monitoring UW - Monitoring - # streams/sites being monitored Enter the number of streams that were sampled for the project.
Species Outcome UW - Population - # individuals Enter the number of individual Eastern brook trout counted. In the NOTES section of this metric please indicate if other wild trout were also found, i.e. brown trout.
Species Outcome UW - Population - # sites occupied by species Enter the number of sites where Eastern brook trout were found.


  • Eligible and Ineligible Entities
    • Eligible applicants include non-profit 501(c) organizations and educational institutions that have 501(c) (3) non-profit status in Pennsylvania, such as universities, research entities and conservation organizations.
    • 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.


The Unassessed Waters Initiative has $100,000 in funding available this year. Funding is provided by the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service.
Stream Sampling: Grants will range from $5,500 to $30,000 each, depending on the minimum number of streams sampled; 20, 40, or 75, and travel costs. It is anticipated that 8-10 grants will be awarded.
Projects should begin within three months of the award date and be completed by October 1, 2017. For this year additional funding is available for overnight and other travel with the following guidelines:
  • Travel costs can be reimbursed following the guidelines in Appendix C of the 2017 Sampling Protocols
  • Costs can be reimbursed up to $400 per day for a three or four person crew. This includes transportation, food, and lodging (if necessary).
  • Surveys requiring travel costs should sample a minimum of four streams per day.
  • Travel costs must be included in your budget at the time of application in order to be reimbursed.
  • All efforts to minimize travel costs are greatly appreciated.
Program Innovation: Up to $10,000 is available for conducting culvert assessments in priority watersheds, and may be combined with requests for stream sampling.


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 outlined in the Request for 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.
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).
Funding Need – Project establishes a clear need for the funds being requested, and demonstrates that activities would not move forward absent funding.
Past Success – Applicant has a proven track record of success in implementing conservation practices with specific, measurable results.


Experience - Applicants must have valid scientific collector permits. Experience with electro-fishing is required to receive a scientific collector permit for this project. https://www.scientificcollector.state.pa.us/ Applicants must be familiar with Pennsylvania’s water quality criteria and ranking system.
Sampling Protocols - Applicants must adhere to PFBC 2017 Sampling Protocols, and must be able to document sampling locations using GPS or GIS.
General – Applicants will be required to indicate the status of all permits required to comply with federal, state or local requirements.
Procurement – If the applicant chooses to specifically identify proposed Contractor(s) for Services, an award by NFWF to the applicant does not necessarily 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.
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.


Dates of activities are subject to change. Please check the Program page of the NFWF website for the most current dates and information Unassessed Waters Initiative.
Applicant Webinar ​January 26, 2017, 2:00 PM, Eastern Standard Time
Register Here for Applicant Webinar
Full Proposal Due Date ​February 7, 2017, 11:59 PM, Eastern Standard Time
Review Period ​February 8-17
Congressional Notification ​February 21 – March 26
Awards Announced ​March 27, 2017


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.


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 also 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
(202) 595-2478

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


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