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2016 Caribbean Area Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG)

Test plots for Salt Flat Conservation Buffers CIG project.Caribbean Area NRCS Director, Edwin Almodóvar, is pleased to announce the availability of up to $250,000 in FY 2016 Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) funding for the Caribbean Area to stimulate the development and adoption of innovative conservation approaches and technologies (en Español). Applications will be accepted from the Caribbean Area: Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands only. Applications are requested from eligible government agencies, non-governmental organizations or individuals. CIG will fund single and multi-year projects, not to exceed 3 years (anticipated project start date of September 1, 2016). Funds will be awarded through a competitive process. The maximum award amount for any project will not exceed $75,000 in FY 2016. The closing date to submit 2016 applications is MAY 31, 2016.

The complete 2016 Caribbean Area CIG Request for Applications can be found at www.grants.gov/view-opportunity.html?oppId=283008. Electronic applications must be sent through www.grants.gov. Paper applications must be received by 4:00 p.m. May 31, 2016, at the:

NRCS Caribbean State Office
654 Muñoz Rivera Ave., Suite 604
San Juan, PR 00918-4129

CIG is a voluntary program to stimulate the development and adoption of innovative conservation approaches and technologies while leveraging Federal investment in environmental enhancement and protection, in conjunction with agricultural production. Under CIG, Environmental Quality Incentives Program funds are used to award competitive grants to non-Federal governmental or nongovernmental organizations, Tribes, or individuals.

CIG allows NRCS to work with other public and private entities to accelerate technology transfer and adoption of promising technologies and approaches to address some of the Nation's most pressing natural resource concerns. CIG will benefit agricultural producers by providing more options for environmental enhancement and compliance with Federal, State, and local regulations.

Caribbean Area Resource Concerns

For Fiscal Year 2016, CIG is focused on the following topics – one or more may be selected for proposals:

  • Climate Change: Proposals must demonstrate and quantify the GHG (Green House Gas), carbon sequestration and water availability and health benefits of the approaches.
    • Integration of new conservation partners. Establish collaborative relationships with corporate supply chain initiatives that recognize the instrumental role of NRCS voluntary conservation practices in meeting and exceeding corporate GHG reduction, water availability and carbon sequestration targets such as:
      • Establishment, validation and demonstration of plant materials (crops, cover crops, conservation covers, agroforestry (silvopasture, alley cropping, riparian forest buffers), trees/shrubs/vines and pastures and forages), and their management to reduce GHG emissions.
      • Establish and demonstrate innovative technologies in wildfire prevention and control;
      • New efforts in tillage practices and integrated tropical ecological systems.
      • Demonstration of water management practices efficiencies to include systems with alternative agriculture, positive impacts to aquifer health and pasture/cropland protection on wildfires.
    • Demonstrate water management practices in urban and coastal sites and their impacts on Aquifers and Coastal Marine Ecosystems (i.e. coral reefs).
  • Soil Health:
    • Establish and demonstrate how implementation of soil health management systems can be integrated into carbon sequestration: 1) Cropland Soil Health, including tillage, cover crops, nitrogen management, etc., and/or 2) Grazing Land Soil Health, including animal management, prescribed grazing, soil amendments such as manure or compost, interseeding legumes and other plant materials mixes or species.
    • Demonstrate and quantify the impacts of Soil Health Management Systems (e.g., cover crops, reduced tillage) on key soil health attributes (e.g., available water holding capacity, disease suppression, nutrient cycling) and determine the extent to which the rates of change are influenced by climate, organic input, chemical composition/ placement, and soil properties (e.g., particle size, mineralogy).
    • Validate and demonstrate local vegetation Manning's "n" values for Retardance Index in the Caribbean Area to cover waterways and open channels and reduce risks of erosion.
  • Water:
    • Establish, validate and demonstrate technology to reduce runoff and increase water infiltration and aquifer recovery.
    • Establish, validate and demonstrate soil/plant technology or species/management to cope with droughts.
    • Validate and demonstrate technology/water management conservation measures to be applied in trails and access roads on steep lands.
    • Establish, validate and demonstrate new approaches in water harvesting to overcome resource concerns (i.e.; water quantity, quality, water needs for crops, livestock and wildlife).
  • Energy:
    • Evaluate and demonstrate new renewable energy systems that offset fossil fuel energy use and meet on-farm energy needs, while increasing energy efficiency and/or reducing environmental contaminants.
  • Plants & Wildlife:
    • Validate and demonstrate vegetative buffers, designs, management, components and plant material mixes to enhance wildlife and pollinator habitat.
  • Air:
    • Develop and demonstrate ambient air quality assessment methodologies and procedures for identifying air quality issues and solutions related to animal and/or crop production systems. The methodologies and procedures should focus on one or more agriculturally-related air contaminants and identify opportunities for mitigating emissions at multiple steps in the animal and/or crop production process.
    • Establish and demonstrate innovative ways to expand the capture and use of methane from livestock systems. Examples include anaerobic digestion, associated efforts to create markets for value-added byproducts, and covering/flaring or other means of capturing and utilizing methane. The project should emphasize efficient and cost-effective means of adopting technologies that are especially relevant to small- to medium-sized livestock operations. Proposals must demonstrate and quantify the GHG benefits of the approaches.
  • Economics and Sociology:
    • Develop and demonstrate individual enterprise budgets/case studies for a range of major agricultural systems, production zones (valleys vs mountains), and management practices (i.e. comparing no-tillage vs. tillage, cover crops vs. no cover crops; rotations vs. continuous cropping).
    • Develop a tool for assessing the economics of conservation that includes a defensible and acceptable valuation of environmental benefits and identification of knowledge gaps.
  • Projects Benefiting Historically Underserved Producers, Veteran Farmers or Ranchers, or Organizations Comprised of or Representing these Individuals or Entities (i.e. Outreach):
    • Develop and transfer Spanish/English video clips or other appropriate video material related to routine maintenance procedures of installed conservation practices to provide knowledge and train underserved farmers/clients as to the proper use of information.
    • Develop and transfer Spanish/English outreach material or technology on integrated pest management.
    • Develop and transfer Spanish/English outreach material on issues, concerns and measures to overcome forest wildfires and its effects on the natural resources.
    • Develop and transfer natural resources conservation technologies (demonstration farms, farm visits, workshops, seminars, hands-on learning) to underserved groups.
    • Establish, develop and transfer new approaches to any conservation practice officially included in the Caribbean Area Field Office Technical Guide.
    • Projects that develop technical training and information on any topic listed in this announcement.
    • Establish, develop and demonstrate new approaches to transfer technology in conservation of natural resources to persons with disabilities.

The closing date to submit 2016 applications is MAY 31, 2016. Please visit www.grants.gov for a copy of the complete announcement and for submission requirements (announcement # USDA-NRCS-CARIBBEAN-CIG-16-01). Electronic applications must be sent through www.grants.gov. Hard copy applications may be delivered to the Caribbean Area State Office no later than 4:00 p.m. May 31, 2016. Late applications will not be considered.

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