Conservation Partners Program (CPP)

Funder Name or Agency: National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF)
Funding Sources: Private Foundation, Federal Agency
Elligible Entities: Tribal Governments, State Agency, Local Government and Utility Districts, Non-Profit Organization, College or School, Partnership, Land Trust
Funding Amount: $300000
Deadline: August 17, 2017
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Overview

The Conservation Partners Program (CPP) is a collaborative effort between the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), and other regional/initiative-specific partner.

The purpose of the partnership is to provide grants on a competitive basis to increase technical assistance capacity to advance the implementation of three complementary priorities: NRCS’s Landscape Conservation Initiatives, NFWF’s Conservation Priorities, and the NRCS-U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service partnership – Working Lands for Wildlife. In order to maximize benefits to these three priorities, the CPP also seeks to target investments in certain identified Program Priority Areas (PPAs).

The CPP program funding will support:

  • Accelerated implementation of NRCS/NFWF initiatives and Farm Bill conservation programs within the Program Priority Areas and Working Lands for Wildlife Focal Areas listed belowIncorporation of best available science in applying conservation systems and strategically focusing resources where the greatest conservation opportunities exist
  • Increased landowner/manager awareness and participation in NRCS/NFWF initiatives and Farm Bill programs
  • Identifying and promoting positive economic outcomes as a result of conservation system implementation

Forms of Capacity Expertise Sought (include but are not limited to):

  • Expertise in comprehensive natural resource conservation planning
  • Discipline-specific expertise: wildlife, aquatics, wetlands, forestry, general ecology, rangeland ecology
  • Resource-specific scientific expertise to support development of science-based tools, for example: wildlife habitat evaluation and management guidelines; best management practices to be used in association with NRCS conservation practice implementation (e.g. best management practices for the use of prescribed fire for the management of early successional wildlife habitat)
  • Scientific expertise and experience to help facilitate integration of current scientific knowledge and technologies into NRCS/NFWF conservation initiatives
  • Technical expertise in developing methodologies to monitor, assess, evaluate and report on measurable resource conservation outcomes
  • Farm Bill program and marketing expertise to improve landowners’ and customers’ understanding of Farm Bill programs and NRCS practices, standards and strategic initiatives as a means to increase landowner and partner participation

 GEOGRAPHIC FOCUS

The Conservation Partners Program is a nationwide program with specific priority areas where funding will be directed.

Competitive proposals will be focused on one of the nine priorities listed below:

  • Pacific Salmon
  • Grassland Bird Habitat
  • Great Lakes
  • Mississippi River Basin
  • Gulf Coast Plain States Working Lands Conservation

The remaining Priority Areas will be funded through separate RFPs, listed below:

  • Chesapeake Bay Watershed
  • Delaware River Basin
  • Longleaf Pine Ecosystem
  • New England Forests and Rivers

PROGRAM PRIORITIES

Pacific Salmon

Eligible projects should improve the efficiency of on-farm irrigation practices and provide quantifiable benefits to instream flows through a state approved transfer or some other form of enforceable agreement. Projects should be located in priority anadromous salmonid streams in California, Oregon, Washington, and Idaho and should benefit stream reaches where insufficient instream flows are identified as a key limiting factor for fish survival by a state or federal agency.

Objectives:

  • Improve instream flows and water quality in freshwater systems through implementation of conservation practices
  • Restore stream flows while maintaining or balancing crop yields through conservation planning on agricultural lands
  • Promote and facilitate conservation best practices including irrigation efficiencies and other conservation agricultural practices that benefit freshwater systems and promotes water conservation through conservation planning on agricultural lands
  • Integrate Farm Bill funding into whole farm planning efforts aimed at producing better water quality

Activities that will be implemented to meet the objectives include (but are not limited to) improved water management, wildlife habitat restoration, easement programs and management practices such as cover crops, range seeding, buffering, grass grazing systems, management of agricultural drainage water and irrigation efficiencies, prescribed grazing and forage harvest management.

Fish and Wildlife Species of Interest:

  • Salmonid species
  • Mussels, fish and other aquatic biota
  • Threatened and endangered grassland, wetland and aquatic species

Grassland Bird Habitat

The Great Plains and Prairie Pothole Region support more than 300 species of breeding, migrating, and overwintering bird species and are hotspots for about two dozen bird species of high national importance.

Objectives:

  • Engage ranchers, farmers, and the agricultural sector in developing and implementing best practices, innovation and stewardship practices that benefit grassland bird habitat
  • Promote grass-based grazing systems with positive impacts on grassland bird habitat
  • Evaluate and monitor species response to practices implemented
  • Identify and monitor overlapping benefit to monarch butterflies
  • Develop and implement innovative habitat conservation techniques, such as:
    • ​​​​reducing economic entry barriers to attract a new generation of ranchers
    • creating grass banks to improve access to large grazing areas
    • incentivizing grass-based agriculture through price premiums
    • using precision agriculture to help producers avoid converting unproductive field areas

Activities that will be implemented to meet the objectives include (but are not limited to) grassland habitat restoration, agricultural management practices including conservation cover, cover crop, range seeding, buffering, prescribed grazing systems, management of agricultural drainage water, and forage harvest management.

Fish and Wildlife Species of Interest:

  • Grassland birds; focal species include burrowing owl, Baird’s sparrow, Sprague’s pipit, and chestnut collared longspur
  • Threatened and endangered prairie, grassland, wetland and aquatic species
  • Waterfowl

Great Lakes Basin

Awards in the Great Lakes region will be made to reduce phosphorus runoff and associated harmful algae blooms. Investments to reduce algal blooms and improve water quality will focus in watersheds with high levels of phosphorus and sediment loading, with particular emphasis on western Lake Erie, Saginaw Bay, and Green Bay. Grant funding will be used to hire field conservation professionals who will, in collaboration with NRCS field offices develop farm nutrient management plans; enroll in Farm Bill programs; and implement conservation practices that may include, but not be limited to, construction of on-farm riparian buffers and wetlands, drainage and tillage practices, and application of soil health concepts. Positions will be supported by grant funding for up to two years.

Objectives:

  • Conduct outreach and implementation of conservation systems on agricultural land in priority watersheds, such as the Western and Eastern Lake Erie, Green Bay, and Saginaw Bay
  • Engage farmer-led groups in conservation planning
  • Improve water quality primarily through reductions in sediment and phosphorous losses
  • Improve fish and wildlife habitat

Mississippi River Basin

Priority projects will be located in NRCS’s priority watersheds and subwatersheds as identified for the Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative (MRBI) and priority areas for the Driftless Area Initiative. A reference map for MRBI priority areas can be found here, and the Driftless Area map can be found here. Chief among the program priorities for the basin are improvements to water quality and a focus on riparian habitat.

Objectives:

  • Engage farmers, farm-related and farmer-led organizations, and the agricultural sector in best practices, innovation and stewardship practices that benefit water quality, fish, and wildlife
  • Examine economic benefits to farmers as it relates to implementation of conservation systems
  • Promote innovative agricultural practices that have positive economic and environmental outcomes
  • Measure and promote positive economic implications of on-farm conservation practices
  • Promote grass-based grazing systems with positive impacts on soil health, water quality, and cold water stream systems, using brook trout as an indicator species
  • Achieve long-term reductions in edge-of-field nutrient losses from agricultural lands in the key watersheds in the Mississippi River Basin
  • Improve nutrient management and bring new tools to farmers to more efficiently manage inputs
  • Promote wetlands, active floodplains, and other practices that can trap and treat excess nutrient runoff
  • Integrate Farm Bill funding into whole farm planning efforts aimed at producing better water quality
  • Drainage management and monitoring its effect on wildlife

Fish and Wildlife Species of Interest:

  • Mussels, fish, brook trout, and other aquatic biota
  • Waterfowl, marsh birds, and shorebirds
  • Grassland birds
  • Threatened and endangered prairie, grassland, wetland and aquatic species

Funding in this category will support technical assistance to farmers, foresters and other private landowners and managers to help optimize wildlife conservation on private lands in the Mississippi River Basin.

Gulf Coast Plain States Working Lands Conservation

Awards will be made within the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas to expand and enhance conservation of wetlands and agricultural lands through the NRCS Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) – Wetlands Reserve Easements (WRE) and Agricultural Lands Easements (ALE). Grant funding will be used to hire field natural resource professionals who will, in collaboration with NRCS field offices, provide strategic outreach and delivery of technical assistance to private landowners, as well as provide additional incentives and resources to manage existing WRP and ACEP-WRE, as well as new ACEP-WRE, enrollments.

Positions will be supported by grant funding for up to three years. Special emphasis will be placed on targeting outreach to, and enhancing participation of, beginning farmers, socially disadvantaged farmers or ranchers, limited resource farmers or ranchers, Tribes and veteran farmers and ranchers. Proposals should describe the geographic range covered, and how proposed work fits within and will coordinate with other private lands work in the area, including appropriate state and local NRCS offices.

Objectives:

  • Assist landowners with the NRCS conservation enrollment process (ACEP-WRE or ALE).
  • Conduct ACEP-WRE/WRP or ALE technical assistance activities which may include, but not be limited to:
    • Acquiring easement surveys
    • Procuring due diligence documentation
    • Provide habitat restoration planning, design, construction layout, and inspection
    • Easement monitoring activities
    • Site specific management plans
    • Contracting for wetland restoration services
    • Landowner outreach activities
  • Provide additional incentives and resources to landowners enrolled in WRE/WRP contracts to implement conservation practices above and beyond those funded through NRCS landowner agreements to improve wildlife habitat and water quality.

Fish and Wildlife Species of Interest:

  • Waterfowl, marsh birds and shorebirds
  • Mussels, fish and other aquatic species
  • Louisiana black bear
  • Threatened, endangered and at-risk species

You can learn more about this opportunity by visiting the funder’s website.

Eligibility:

  • Eligible applicants include: non-profit 501(c) organizations, farmer and commodity-led organizations, educational institutions, tribal governments, and state or local units of governments (e.g. state agricultural and/or conservation agencies, counties, townships, cities, conservation districts, utility districts, drainage districts, etc.).
  • For all requests a match of at least 1:1 non-federal cash or in-kind is required, and will be considered in application review.

Ineligibility:

  • Ineligible applicants include: individuals, federal government agencies, and for-profit entities.
  • 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.