Request for Quotation: Restoration Monitoring for Robinson Preserve Wetlands Restoration Project

Requesting Organization
National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
1133 15th Street NW, Suite 1000
Washington, DC 20005

Contact Information:
Jessica Lassetter, Senior Manager, Federal Relations
jessica.lassetter@nfwf.org
(202) 595-2495​​

Application Deadline:  Monday, April 15th, 2019 11:59 PM Eastern Time

OVERVIEW

National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), in partnership with National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and Manatee County, seeks a qualified entity to implement the monitoring and evaluation of the upcoming Robinson Preserve Wetlands Restoration Project (Project). The Project construction will be overseen by Manatee County, and the Project is supported through a partnership between NFWF and NOAA with funding from the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council (RESTORE Council). NFWF anticipates selecting an entity to perform monitoring and evaluation functions under the Project; the selected entity will:

  • ​conduct regular field monitoring and data collection;
  • manage and analyze field data; and
  • create data, interim and final reports to be made publically available by NOAA.

The successful Contractor will be selected through a competitive process that assesses the Contractor’s plan for achieving stated work items, technical qualifications, and cost considerations. The award level will be based on the Foundation’s evaluation of the proposal and budget documentation and contingent upon available funding. 

The Contract Period of Performance is estimated to be two (2) years, with NFWF’s option to extend for up to an additional two (2) years, for a period of up to four (4) years, based on tasks funded.  Contracted tasks will be scheduled around the construction of the restoration project, therefore tasks will occur before and after restoration with an approximate nine (9) month gap during restoration construction.  As described with greater detail below, any extention of the Contract Period of Performance would allow for completion of Optional Tasks, if funded. The selected entity are anticipated to have staff or subcontractors based in the state of Florida and should have the willingness and ability to start immediately (within two weeks of offer). Local travel to the restoration site within Manatee County, Florida, for field data collection is expected. 

BACKGROUND

Since 2007, NFWF has partnered with NOAA’s Damage Assessment, Remediation, and Restoration Program (DARRP) to implement restoration activities related to injuries from oil spills, vessel groundings, and hazardous waste releases. These activities achieve our mutual mission to further the conservation and management of fish, wildlife, and other natural resources.

The RESTORE Council identified the Robinson Preserve Wetlands Restoration and Implementation Project, for funding through the initial 2015 Council-Selected Restoration Component funded priorities list (FPL) under the RESTORE Act.  This project is one of five NOAA Connecting Coastal Waters (CCW) projects being funded through RESTORE.  The CCW initiative is led by NOAA to implement and inventory projects that will restore the extent, functionality, and resiliency of Gulf coast wetlands.  The NOAA Restoration Center will manage the RESTORE Council award and has partnered with NFWF to implement Council-supported activities at Robinson Preserve.  Manatee County will be responsible for construction implementation and oversight.

The Project aims to restore 118.2 acres of disturbed coastal habitats by creating hydrologic connections and providing a more natural hydrologic regime within portions of the Robinson Preserve in Manatee County, Florida.  Project restoration activities will focus on restoration and creation of wetland, subtidal, and coastal upland habitats.  This shovel-ready project will implement restoration that project partners have already planned, designed, and permitted.  Project activities will also include pre- and post-restoration monitoring (the focus of this RFQ), and outreach.  Figure 1 provides a Map of Robinson Preserve Wetlands Restoration Boundary and Features of Interest.

Robinson Preserve Wetlands Restoration Boundary

Figure 1. Map of Robinson Preserve Wetlands Restoration Boundary and Features of Interest

To enhance coastal habitats the Project will create hydrologic connections and coastal wetlands through excavation and placement of dredged material.  Implementation will include restoration activities such as sediment removal for creating tidal connections, sediment placement to modify hydrologic connections, excavation and re-grading to modify existing water features, creation of water conveyance systems, exotic vegetation removal, wetland planting, and seagrass and mangrove planting as mitigation measures.  By modifying the hydrologic connectivity of the fallow farmland, the system will transition into a mosaic of productive habitats. 

Specific restoration techniques and design concepts for the project include: 

  1. ​Excavate fallow farmland to create a series of tidal lagoons, backwater tidal creek connections, fringing wetlands, freshwater ponds, and coastal upland islands.  
  2. Construct a series of tidal cuts to create hydrologic connectivity between the project footprint and the preserve’s existing habitats.
  3. Create a dredge cut at the mouth of an open estuary to improve flushing and naturally regulate water velocities.
  4. Create ditch blocks/ditch plugs to control flow velocity within the newly connected system.
  5. Enhance juvenile Snook and tarpon habitat by constructing several earthen weirs at elevations that will exclude large predators from portions of the project’s open water features.
  6. Plant wetland and other native vegetation as part of habitat creation and non-native plant control.
  7. Place oyster cultch material as future habitat at elevations of 0 ft. to -1 ft. within an excavated water feature (basin that will become a tidally influenced lagoon once connected).

Overall pre- and post-restoration monitoring tasks will include both Implementation Monitoring and Effectiveness Monitoring.

Certain components of implementation monitoring will be conducted as a part of this RFQ, and certain components of implementation monitoring will be conducted separate from this RFQ1. The Contractor selected under this RFQ will conduct tasks to assist in demonstrating hydrology is restored to 118.2 acres of Robinson Preserve (see Task 1 and 3).  

In addition, tasks in this RFQ seek to monitor the effectiveness of the Project (see Task 2; Optional Tasks 4 and 5).  Effectiveness monitoring of this hydrologic reconnection project will investigate more sophisticated ecological and technique effectiveness questions related to the functionality of the restoration.  The Contractor selected under this RFQ will conduct tasks to provide data, analysis and findings to support answering questions of interest to NFWF, NOAA and RESTORE Council like the following:

  1. ​Is the project supporting a productive wetland? Are nekton using the created habitats?  Are there species-specific and/or ontogenetic differences in habitat usage within the mosaic?
  2. Is nekton density at the restored site comparable to nekton density at a reference site?  Does recruitment of nekton occur differentially at different habitat components of the new and reference habitat mosaics?
  3. Do the flow patterns and flow rates conform to predicted or desired patterns and rates?

The selected entity will coordinate the implementation of the Project in close coordination with NFWF, NOAA, and Manatee County staff.

QUALIFICATIONS SOUGHT

To assist the successful implementation of the Project, this RFQ is seeking entities to conduct restoration monitoring with the following preferred qualifications: 

  • Three to five years of experience conducting field sampling in southwest Florida estuarine habitats. 
  • Knowledge of southwest Florida wetland plants and estuarine-dependent nekton. 
  • Experience collecting and identifying nekton using a 9.1-m seine.
  • Experience designing a statistically robust probabilistic nekton sampling program.
  • Experience conducting Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute’s (FWRI) Fisheries Independent Monitoring Program (FIM) protocols (preferred but not required).
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills.
  • Computer proficiency, including databases, spreadsheets, and word processing.
  • Ability to obtain any authorizations or permits needed to conduct sampling and access the restoration site.  

SCOPE OF WORK

Prior to initiation of the tasks below, the Contractor will provide a Plan of Work, reviewed and approved by NFWF and NOAA, that describes the sampling design, locations, and frequency, as well as collection methods, equipment to be used, quality assurance and quality control measures, analysis methods, and reporting formats.  Tasks 1, 2, and 3, are required under this RFQ and must be addressed in a Plan of Work.  Please note the deliverables for Tasks 1 and 2 are spelled out under Task 3.  Tasks 4 and 5 are optional elements that may also be addressed in the Plan of Work.  Tasks 4 and 5 will be considered during evaluation of RFQs (see below for details) and will be considered for implementation based on Contractor performance of Tasks 1, 2, and 3, as well as the availability of funding.  The selected entity will conduct the following tasks and provide the associated deliverables as described below:

Task 1:  Pre and post-restoration water level data collection.  Pre-restoration and post-restoration water level data will be collected and used to create hydrographs from both downstream and upstream of the project site. The data should be obtained using data loggers and the selected Contractor may need to purchase or rent data loggers if they do not already have access to them.  The only requirement is that the data loggers have the ability to collect water level information (usually a pressure transducer) for a 28-day tidal cycle, with measurements taken every 15 minutes.  Pre- and post-restoration hydrographs will be generated by the Contractor after collecting water elevations using at least three data loggers (upstream and downstream of water restrictions, and one to correct for atmospheric pressure) surveyed into the same elevation benchmark and tidal datum as the restoration design project plans.  The selected Contractor must be willing to obtain any authorizations or permits needed to deploy data loggers at the restoration site.

Anticipated Timeline:  Activities under Task 1 are expected to occur at least once before restoration construction actions begin (anticipated Fall 2019) and once after restoration construction completion.  Post-restoration sampling must be completed within one year of restoration completion.  The specific timing of each 28-day sampling event will be discussed in consultation with NOAA to determine if there is a specific biologically relevant time period for target fish species that should be considered in the sampling design.

Task 2:  Pre-restoration nekton abundance and composition data collection.  The selected Contractor will conduct fisheries-independent monitoring via seine sampling to measure nekton abundance, composition, and density.  All organisms captured should be identified to the lowest practical taxonomic level possible. For each seine pull shoreline and bottom type habitat characterization will be collected.  Sampling gear should include a 9.1-m seine to target young-of-the-year common snook and red drum and other similarly sized nekton.  Monitoring will employ a random or stratified-random sampling design for sampling site selection.  Length and biomass should be measured during sampling events.  Data would be presented as density (individuals/m2), wet weight (g/m2), and length-frequency distributions per species.  Two pre-restoration sampling events will occur with approximately 16 siene pulls per event.  Siene pulls will be collected throughout the Robinson Preserve in both restored and reference habitats, with various levels of restricted access.  Sampling within the system may require shallow water boats.  The selected Contractor must obtain any authorizations or permits needed to conduct sampling and access the restoration site.  Authorizations may include but are not limited to special activity licenses and Florida Department of Environmental Protection Property Access and Non-commercial Research or Collection permits.

Anticipated Timeline:  Activities under Task 2 are expected to occur twice prior to restoration construction in Spring/Summer and Fall of 2019. Restoration construction is anticipated to begin in Fall of 2019.

Task 3:  Data management, analysis, and reporting.  The selected Contractor will be responsible for quality assurance and quality control of field data collected during Tasks 1 and 2.  Data from these tasks will be provided to NFWF and NOAA in approved electronic formats as well as copies of field sheets.  Water level data must be presented in hydrographs with accompanying relevant interpretation.  If possible, the data should be analyzed using traditional statistical techniques and report on relevant biological indices (i.e. measures of diversity such as species richness Shannon-Wiener Index and Simpson’s Index).  Data analysis and results should be compiled and documented in a Pre-Restoration Monitoring Report Deliverable.  Deliverables are to include raw data in approved electronic formats and report deliverables must be approved by NOAA (as facilitated by NFWF) to ensure the product meets federal data sharing and RESTORE Council reporting requirements.   

Anticipated Timeline:  Activities under Task 3 are expected during pre-restoration monitoring activities (Tasks 1 and 2). The Pre-Restoration Monitoring Report Deliverable shall be completed approximately two months after pre-restoration sampling is completed. 

Optional Tasks

In addition to required Tasks 1, 2, and 3, Tasks 4 and 5 are optional, but of interest and may be included in the Plan of Work.  The Optional Tasks are independent from one another and all other tasks (unless noted) and should be addressed individually (i.e., the Plan of Work may include Task 1, 2, 3; Task 1, 2, 3, and 4; Task 1, 2, 3, and 5; or Task 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5)

Optional Task 4:  Post-restoration nekton abundance and composition data collection, analysis, and reporting.  The selected Contractor will conduct fisheries monitoring after restoration is completed to measure nekton abundance, composition, and density for a period of up to 3 years post-restoration.  Sampling gear should include the same gear used to collect pre-restoration data, a 9.1-m seine to target young-of-the-year common snook and red drum and other similarly sized nekton.  Monitoring will employ the same random or stratified-random sampling design utilized in Task 2 for sampling site selection as well as the habitat characterizations for each seine pull. Length and biomass should be measured during sampling.  Data should be presented as density (individuals/m2), wet weight (g/m2), and length-frequency distributions per species.  Post-restoration sampling events are expected to occur bimonthly (every other month or 6 time per year) with approximately 16 siene pulls per event.  Siene pulls will be collected throughout the Robinson Preserve in both restored and reference habitats, with various levels of restricted access (small shallow vessels maybe needed).  The selected Contractor must obtain any authorizations or permits needed to conduct sampling and access the restoration site.  Authorizations may include but are not limited to special activity licenses and Florida Department of Environmental Protection Property Access and Non-commercial Research or Collection permits.

The selected Contractor will be responsible for quality assurance and quality control of field data collected during Optional Task 4.  Data from this task will be provided to NFWF and NOAA in approved electronic formats as well as copies of field sheets.  The data should be analyzed using traditional statistical techniques and report on relevant biological indices (i.e. measures of diversity can be calculated such as species richness, Shannon-Wiener Index and Simpson’s Index).  Analysis should include comparisons to pre-restoration data.  Data analysis and results should be compiled and documented in Annual Monitoring Report(s) and a Final Monitoring Report Deliverable.  Deliverables are to include raw data in approved electronic formats and report deliverables must be approved by NOAA (as facilitated by NFWF) to ensure the product meets federal data sharing and RESTORE Council reporting requirements.   

Anticipated Timeline: The Contractor sampling services for Optional Task 4 are expected to occur post-restoration, bimonthly, for up to three years. The Annual Monitoring Reports and a Final Monitoring Reports shall be due four months after sampling is completed every year.

Optional Task 5:  Post-restoration water velocity data collection, analysis, and reporting. The selected Contractor will measure water velocity at three locations, within channels that are important components of the project design or measure hydrologic flows in areas important to the Robinson Preserve overall.  Water velocity should be measured at the flushing cut design element.  Additional locations may include the dredged connection from the Perico Bayou Backwater Channel into the restoration footprint as well as inside one of the restoration water features near a predator exclusion element.  The speed of water should be measured within the restoration water features, in units of distance per time (feet per second).  In-situ sampling to measure water velocity may include equipment like a current meter or an Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler (ADCP).  The selected Contractor may need to purchase or rent equipment if they do not already have access to them.  The selected Contractor must obtain any authorizations or permits needed to access the site, deploy equipment and conduct sampling.  Authorizations may include but are not limited to special activity licenses and Florida Department of Environmental Protection Property Access and Non-commercial Research or Collection permits.

The selected Contractor will be responsible for quality assurance and quality control of field data collected during Optional Task 5. Measured velocity will be compared to modeled values calculated during the project design phase.  Data from this task will be provided to NFWF and NOAA in approved electronic formats and results and analysis provided in a written report with any relevant data interpretation, graphics, and statistics.

Anticipated Timeline:  Activities under Optional Task 5 are expected to occur once post-restoration.  It is anticipated that a single discrete sampling event with continuous recorder placed in-situ for two weeks.  Final report would be due four months after sampling is completed.

APPLICATION INSTRUCTIONS

  1. ​Address each item in the “Submission Requirements” below. Narratives should address each category identified in the “Evaluation Criteria” section below.
  2. Contractor must limit the application to a maximum of six (6) pages, minimizing the use of supplementary materials.
  3. Proposals must be submitted electronically as an email attachment to Jessica Lassetter (jessica.lassetter@nfwf.org) using the following subject line with submission: Response to Robinson Preserve Monitoring RFQ – [name of respondent]. Statements must be provided in Word format. Budgets should be attached as an Excel worksheet using the template provided (Budget Template). 
  4. Offers must be e-mailed no later than 11:59 PM EST on Monday, April 15th, 2019.
  5. Questions may be submitted via email to Jessica Lassetter (jessica.lassetter@nfwf.org). 

SUBMISSION REQUIREMENTS

Offerors must provide a proposal with the following information.  

  1. ​Proposal Narrative – The proposal narrative should include contact information, identify tasks, and address each component listed in the Evaluation Criteria. Proposals can be no more than six (6) pages in length (exclusive of attachments and budget).
    1. ​Contact information.  Provide full contact information including name, address, phone, e-mail, DUNS number, and EIN/Taxpayer ID#. 
    2. Identify Tasks.  List the required and any of the optional tasks that you are qualified for and will perform throughout the project period, including Plan of Work elements such as proposed data collection design and estimated timeline for each task.
    3. Attachments.  Attachments should be limited, but may include resumes, and any other relevant materials.

  2. ​Budget Template – Please complete the Excel budget template provided (Budget Template​) as a separate component of the application package. Where applicable, provide a breakdown of cost per nekton sampling event (this should include a schedule of fees detailing a sum of applicable sampling hours per staff, per event) and specify how many sampling events are included in the overall budget. Please submit the budget as an Excel file.

EVALUATION CRITERIA

Offerors’ proposals will be evaluated and scored on the following criteria. Each item listed below should be addressed in the proposal narrative (see Submission Requirements).

  1. ​Technical Components of Submitted Proposal Narrative.  The Contractor should propose components of a Plan of Work, that suggests (based on best professional judgement) the most applicable and appropriate sampling design, locations, and frequency, as well as the collection methods, quality assurance and quality control measures, and reporting formats.  
  2. Fisheries independent monitoring experience.  The Contractor should detail experience designing and implementing estuarine and tidal creek nekton sampling programs.  Specifically, detailing example projects, collection methods, gear utilized, and species targeted.  Please also describe relevant experience analyzing monitoring results and documenting project outcomes. As appropriate to the tasks identified, the Contractor should describe their knowledge, experience, and abilities for acquiring authorizations and permits to handle and cull nekton in the state of Florida for research and sampling purposes.  
  3. Hydrologic monitoring experience.  The Contractor should detail experience deploying data loggers as well as collecting and managing water level data.  The Contractor should also demonstrate they can provide or accomplish the required survey related tasks.  
  4. Water velocity sampling experience.  The Contractor should detail their experience conducting data collection using ADCP or other relevant water velocity sampling tools.  
  5. Statistical analysis experience.  Detail any experience conducting statistical analysis relevant to the appropriate tasks identified.  
  6. Budget.  The offer must contain a budget that represents the estimated all-inclusive costs associated with completing required Tasks 1, 2, and 3 of this RFQ, as well as any additional Optional Tasks of interest.  Where applicable, provide a breakdown of cost per nekton sampling event (this should include a schedule of fees detailing a sum of applicable sampling hours per staff, per event) and specify how many sampling events are included in the overall budget. Please submit the budget as an Excel file.  In the proposal narrative, please include a total cost estimate along with a brief budget narrative to explain anticipated project time, costs, and specifically costs per sampling events. In addition, complete the separate Excel budget template (Budget Template​) as described in the Submission Requirements. 

SELECTION PROCEDURE 

A panel of NFWF and NOAA staff will review proposals submitted in response to the RFQ. The panel will assess each proposal according to the project description and evaluation criteria provided in this RFQ.  Applicants may be asked to modify objectives, work plans, and/or budgets prior to final approval of the award.  Specific funding amounts will be negotiated with NFWF and funding for optional elements will be considered based upon the expressed needs of the Project.  If multiple institutions are involved, they should be handled through subcontracts.  

ELIGIBLE APPLICANTS

Eligible applicants are state government agencies, local governments, Indian tribes, educational institutions, nonprofit organizations, for-profit businesses, and individual consultants.  Qualified, small, minority and women-owned businesses are strongly encouraged to apply.   

TIMELINE

​​Contractor Response Deadline:
​Monday, April 15, 2019
NFWF Notification to Contractor:
​Mid-May, 2019​

SPECIAL TERMS AND CONDITIONS

  1. ​Conflicts of Interest
    By submitting a Statement of Quotation 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 Statement of Quotation, or in subsequent correspondence (if the issue becomes known after the submission of the Statement of Quotation) 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.

  2. Additional Responsibility Matters
    By submitting a 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 agreement 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/​.

1The implementation monitoring conducted separate from this RFQ will be completed by the restoration construction lead, Manatee County.  Manatee County will conduct habitat and vegetation baseline, time-zero, and post-restoration monitoring.  Specifically Manatee County will inventory existing habitats and assess wetland vegetation species composition.  ​​