Conservation Partners Legacy Grants Program
$6,860,000 is for the outdoor heritage conservation partners program. Of this amount, $3,860,000 in the first year is to the commissioner of natural resources for a program to provide competitive, matching grants of up to $400,000 to local, regional, state, and national organizations for enhancing, restoring, or protecting forests, wetlands, prairies, and habitat for fish, game, or wildlife in Minnesota. Grants shall not be made for activities required to fulfill the duties of owners of lands subject to conservation easements. Grants shall not be made from this appropriation for projects that have a total project cost exceeding $575,000. Of this appropriation, $366,000 may be spent for personnel costs and other direct and necessary administrative costs. Grantees may acquire land or interests in land. Easements must be permanent. Land acquired in fee must be open to hunting and fishing during the open season unless otherwise provided by state law. The program shall require a match of at least ten percent from nonstate sources for all grants. The match may be cash or in-kind resources. For grant applications of $25,000 or less, the commissioner shall provide a separate, simplified application process. Subject to Minnesota Statutes, the commissioner of natural resources shall, when evaluating projects of equal value, give priority to organizations that have a history of receiving or charter to receive private contributions for local conservation or habitat projects. If acquiring land or a conservation easement, priority shall be given to projects associated with existing wildlife management areas under Minnesota Statutes, section 86A.05, subdivision 8; scientific and natural areas under Minnesota Statutes, sections 84.033 and 86A.05, subdivision 5; and aquatic management areas under Minnesota Statutes, sections 86A.05, subdivision 14, and 97C.02. All restoration or enhancement projects must be on land permanently protected by a conservation easement or public ownership or in public waters as defined in Minnesota Statutes, section 103G.005, subdivision 15. Priority shall be given to restoration and enhancement projects on public lands. Minnesota Statutes, section 97A.056, subdivision 13, applies to grants awarded under this paragraph. This appropriation is available until June 30, 2017. No less than five percent of the amount of each grant must be held back from reimbursement until the grant recipient has completed a grant accomplishment report by the deadline and in the form prescribed by and satisfactory to the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council. The commissioner shall provide notice of the grant program in the game and fish law summaries that are prepared underMinnesota Statutes, section 97A.051, subdivision 2.Of this amount, $3,000,000 is for aquatic invasive species grants to tribal and local governments with a delegation agreement under Minnesota Statutes, section 84D.105, subdivision 2, paragraph (g), for education, inspection, and decontamination activities at public water access, and other sites.* Up to four percent of this appropriation may be used to administer the grants. * (The preceding text beginning "Of this amount, $3,000,000" and ending "and other sites." was indicated as vetoed by the governor.)
Outcomes are dependent on grantees' project choices.
The Conservation Partners Legacy Grant Program (CPL) is managed by the Department of Natural Resources to provide competitive matching grants of up to $400,000 to local, regional, state, and national non-profit organizations, including governments.
The CPL program fulfills MS 97a.056 Subd. 3a, directing LSOHC to establish a conservation partner’s grant program encouraging/supporting local conservation efforts. $3,494,000 of the appropriated $3,860,000 was available for grants. This is a stand-alone program, but depends on support/technical advice from public land managers, habitat and acquisition specialists, and support staff. Grant activities: enhancement, restoration, protection of forests, wetlands, prairies, and habitat for fish, game, or wildlife in Minnesota. A 10% match from nonstate sources is required for all grants. Match: Cash or in-kind, identified at time of application. CPL Program Staff develop a Request for Proposal/Program Manual incorporating LSOHC priorities, solicit applications, work with applicants to submit scorable applications, oversee grant selection, prepare/execute grant documents, review expenditure documentation, ensure financial integrity, make payments, monitor grant work, assist recipients with closing out agreements, and prepare required reports. Applicants describe: location of work, activity type and habitat; benefit to habitat, fish, game and wildlife; and duration of benefits. Acquisition projects: applicants describe parcel selection process. CPL staff complies with the Department of Administration-Office of Grants Management policies. Stakeholders involved in this program are applicants, reviewers, land managers. No opposition is known. Application Process A Request for Proposal/Program Manual was posted on the CPL website in August, 2013. Document contains all grant program information. Applications are submitted using CPL’s Online Grant Application System (OLGA). Applicants use OLGA’s mapping tool to map project sites. Applications accepted beginning in August, 2013, until round one deadline in mid-September, 2013. Applications requesting grants up to $25,000 or Preapproved Project Grants have a shorter application form. The application system will accept Preapproved Project Grant applications year-round. Examples of Preapproved Projects and criteria for each will be on the website. Grants over or under $25,000 were selected for funding once. Preapproved (ECP) Project Grants were awarded 4 times during the year. DNR were able to make additional awards under this announcement, consistent with DNR and OHF policy and guidance, if additional funding became available or if a grantee could not complete a project as planned. Grant Selection Process CPL Grant Program Staff review applications for completeness. Technical Review Committee(s), selected by the Commissioner of Natural Resources, evaluate applications based on criteria listed below. A final score is given to all applications. Committee(s) include representatives from DNR, BWSR, the University of MN, state universities or private colleges, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, or other appropriate members from government, non-profit and business organizations. A final ranking committee of Directors of the DNR Divisions of Fish and Wildlife, Ecological Resources/Waters, and Forestry consider TRC, Division and Regional DNR comments, and recommend projects/funding levels to the Commissioner. Preapproved Project Grants are reviewed by CPL staff, using criteria established for each type of project, and make recommendations. The Commissioner makes final decisions. CPL Grant Program staff work with grantees to complete financial reviews, grant agreements, and other paperwork. Work may not begin until grant is executed. Application Criteria Applications is evaluated on these criteria: Amount of habitat restored, enhanced, or protected Local support Degree of collaboration Urgency Multiple benefits Habitat benefits Consistency with current conservation science Adjacent to protected lands Full funding of project Budget/ cost effectiveness Public access for hunting/fishing Use of native plant materials Applicants’ capacity to successfully complete, sustain work Project Reviews and Reporting Grantees submit annual accomplishment reports on forms provided by CPL staff, based on L-SOHC report forms. Reports account for the use of grant/match funds, and outcomes in measures of wetlands, prairies, forests, and fish, game, and wildlife habitat restored, enhanced, and protected. The report must include an evaluation of these results. A final report is required by all grantees 30 days after project completion. CPL Grant staff submits accomplishment reports to L-SOHC as required. CPL Administration Budget Grant administration costs total $366,000, include salary/fringe for grants staff, direct and necessary costs, travel, supplies, and expense. An internal Service Level Agreement (SLA) is developed with DNR’s Management Information Systems to update/manage the online grant application system. DNR Land Acquisition Costs Applicants are required to budget for DNR Land Acquisition costs that are necessary to support the land acquisition process for parcels to be conveyed to the DNR. These costs are billed to awarded grants on a professional services basis. DNR Technical Support The Division of Fish and Wildlife provides ongoing technical guidance, helping applicants prepare grant proposals and meet requirements for working on state lands. Project development and oversight is provided by area managers and additional guidance is provided for land acquisitions. Grantee Payment Grantees are paid on reimbursement or “for services rendered” basis, meaning payment is made to the grantee after work has been performed or materials purchased, but before the vendor is paid by the grantee. Grantees provide proof that work is completed or a purchase made to receive payment. Proof that the vendor was paid must be submitted to CPL staff before additional grant payments are made. Reasonable amounts may be advanced to projects to accommodate cash flow needs, match federal share, or for acquisitions. Advances must be specified in final grant agreement. Partial payments are allowed. Funds are built into grants for required Legacy logo signage and forms of acknowledgement/notification including, but not limited to, local news advertisements announcing completion of grantees' projects. Since the creation of the CPL program, grantees have restored, protected or enhanced nearly 9982 acres of habitat in Minnesota.