2014 Local Led Conservation Proposals due Aug. 1, 2013
The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Arkansas is promoting locally led conservation within the state’s 75 counties. Proposal applications are requested from each local work group for competitive consideration of financial assistance allocations for fiscal year (FY) 2014 (October 1, 2013 to September 30, 2014).
Local led funding will be allocated through a competitive statewide process as described in this announcement. Full proposal applications are being solicited at this time.
This notice identifies the objectives and proposal requirements for local led conservation proposals. Applications will be screened for completeness and compliance with the provisions of this notice. Incomplete proposals or those that do not meet the requirements set forth in this notice will not be considered until all required information is included; notification will be transmitted to the District Conservationist.
Applications must be received by 5 p.m. Central Daylight Time (CDT) Aug. 1, 2013.
Notification of selected proposal applications will be announced by October 1, 2013. Selected applicants will then be required to begin a targeted outreach program to garner the interest of potential customers.
The District Conservationist will upload completed proposal applications from the local work group to the FY 2014 Local Led Conservation folder on the Arkansas NRCS SharePoint site.
Local work groups are to submit proposals through the channels provided in the “Addresses” section of this notice. The proposal must address, in sufficient detail, all the criteria outlined in the “Proposal Requirements” section of this notice in order to be considered.
Local led conservation proposals submitted to NRCS become the property of the agency for use in the administration of the program, may be filed or disposed of by the agency, and will not be returned to the local work group. Once proposals have been submitted for review and ranking, there will be no further opportunity for the local work group to change or re-submit the proposal. However, NRCS may request certain changes before finalizing the selection and approval of a project. Notification will be transmitted to the District Conservationist to provide information required to complete proposal.
NRCS will review, evaluate, and rank proposals based on the criteria set forth in the respective “Proposal Requirements” sections of this notice. Local work groups should recognize that the proposal is the only document NRCS will use in the evaluation process for local led conservation. Local work groups may submit multiple proposals for critical geographic areas. The proposal must request NRCS program funds for obligation beginning in FY 2014 (October 1, 2013-September 30, 2014).
Local work groups whose proposals have been selected will receive an official letter of notification. Local work groups should note that, depending upon available funding and agency priorities, NRCS may offer a reduced amount of program financial assistance from what was requested in the proposal and may require adjustments to the proposal as a condition of approval to meet program or other requirements. Proposals that are not selected will also receive official notification.
State Conservationist Proposal Review
Once a project proposal is received, a copy will be provided to the State Conservationist’s technical review panel. The panel will be comprised of delegates from each of the following staffs: Ecological Sciences, Engineering, Programs, and each Area Office. The panel will review the proposals using a ranking system that:
Document potential duplication with other projects or existing programs;
Confirm adherence to and consistency with program regulations, including requirements related to land and landowner eligibility and other program requirements;
Address expected benefits for project implementation in the County(s);
For multi-county proposals, coordinate with all District Conservationists involved in the proposal to verify concurrence and support for the project;
Identify other issues or concerns that should be considered; and
Provide a recommendation, along with justification, to the State Conservationist for approval or disapproval of the project.
Higher priority may be given to proposals that:
Have a high percentage of producers actively farming or managing working agricultural or non-industrial private forest lands included in the proposed project area;
Significantly leverage non-NRCS financial and technical resources and coordinate with other local, state, or federal efforts. This includes resources committed to provide for evaluation of conservation practices;
Deliver high percentages of applied conservation practices to address the state identified resource issues (historical data may be referenced in proposal);
Provide innovation in approved conservation practices, conservation methods, and delivery, including outcome-based performance measures and methods such as adaptive management strategies;
Complete the application of the conservation practices and activities on all of the covered program contract agreements in 3 years or less;
Assist the participants in meeting local, State, and Federal regulatory requirements;
Provide for outreach to, and participation of, beginning farmers or ranchers, socially disadvantaged farmers or ranchers, and limited resource farmers or ranchers within the proposed project area; and
Identify other factors and criteria which best achieve the purposes of EQIP.
The proposal application forms must include the following. Please provide the information in the order as listed below:
(1) Proposal Cover and Summary:
(a) Project Title;
(b) Name and contact information for Local Work Group submitting proposal and other collaborators; and
(c) Short summary of project including:
i. Project start and end dates (proposed local led projects are not to exceed a period of 3 fiscal years);
ii. Total amount of local financial assistance being requested by program; and
iii. Whether the local led conservation proposal will be used in conjunction with any other NRCS initiative, or other Federal/State programs to meet local objectives. Include the name of the program/project and the associated agency.
(2) Project Natural Resource Objectives and Concerns:
(a) Identify and provide a science-based description about the project objectives. Project objectives should be specific, measurable, achievable, and results-oriented. These objectives should include an estimate of the percentage of producers, including non-industrial private forest landowners, in the project area that may participate in the project along with an estimate of the total number of producers located in the project area and provide details about additional information such as how the local work group will encourage producer participation and whether the project includes any beginning farmers or ranchers, socially disadvantaged farmers or ranchers, or limited resource farmers or ranchers.
(b) Identify and provide details about the natural resource concern(s) to be addressed in this project. Include in this description how the proposal objectives will address the priority resource concerns. Local work groups will work with the State Conservationist to ensure the priority resource concerns are addressed by utilizing approved conservation practices and conservation program requirements. A list of NRCS approved natural resource concerns may be found on the Arkansas NRCS web site, at http://www.ar.nrcs.usda.gov.
(3) Detailed Project Description:
(a) A detailed description of the geographic area covered by the proposal, including:
i. Types of land uses to be treated; and
ii. The location and size of the proposed project area, and what 12-digit HUC sub-watershed(s) the project will be within.
(b) A detailed map showing the project area. Include on the map:
i. Outlined areas that need conservation treatments; and
ii. Prioritize the different areas to be treated by labeling the map heading.
(c) Identify potential criteria to be used by NRCS to prioritize and rank agricultural producers' applications for programs in the project area. Local work groups should collaborate with NRCS to develop meaningful criteria that NRCS can use to evaluate and rank producer program applications. This will ensure that producer applications which will best accomplish the local objectives will be selected.
(d) A listing and description of the approved conservation practices, local work group activities to be implemented during the project timeframe, and the general sequence of implementation of the project. Information about approved conservation practices can be accessed by program at http://www.ar.nrcs.usda.gov. Only the conservation practices listed, which are available in the Field Office Technical Guide, are eligible for use in NRCS conservation programs. For each conservation practice, estimate the amount of practice extent (feet, acres, number, etc.) the local work group expects producers to implement and the amount of financial assistance requested to support implementation of each practice through producer contracts.
(e) Indicate whether the project will address specific regulatory compliance and any other outcomes the local work group expects to complete during the project period.
A final report will be required and must:
Evaluate and report on progress made toward achieving the objectives of the project;
Discuss technical assistance efforts made by the local work group. Describe any activities that were innovative and performance measures implemented;
Describe how local work group(s) collaborated to achieve the objectives of the project including the roles, responsibilities, and capabilities of the partner(s);
Describe how the local work group provided outreach to customers, including beginning farmers/ranchers, limited resource farmers/ranchers, and socially disadvantaged farmers/ranchers;
Provide a detailed description of any requested adjustments, with an explanation of why the adjustment is needed in order to achieve the objectives of the project. Requested adjustments or flexibilities must comply with statutory and regulatory requirements.
There are several resources available to assist Local work groups with the development of local led conservation proposals.