Conservation Partners Legacy Metro Grant Program ML2014
$4,000,000 in the second 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, or habitat for fish, game, or wildlife in the seven-county metropolitan area and cities with a population of 50,000 or greater. 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 the appropriation in this paragraph for projects that have a total project cost exceeding $575,000. Of this appropriation, $70,000 may be spent for direct and necessary administrative costs. Grantees may acquire land or interests in land. Easements must be permanent. Grants may not be used to establish easement stewardship accounts. Land acquired in fee must be open to hunting and fishing during the open season unless otherwise provided by law. Lands acquired or lands with easements acquired with this appropriation may not be used for emergency haying and grazing in response to federal or state disaster declarations. Conservation grazing under a management plan that is already being implemented may continue. 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 or within one mile of 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; or 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 permanent covenant ensuring perpetual maintenance and protection of restored and enhanced habitat, by a conservation easement, or by 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, 2018. 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 summary prepared under Minnesota Statutes, section 97A.051, subdivision 2.
Local partner provide at least 10% match
The Conservation Partners Legacy Grant Program 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 and government entities.
The CPL program fulfills MS 97a.056 Subd. 3a, directing LSOHC to establish a conservation partner’s grant program encouraging/supporting local conservation efforts. $3,930,000 of the requested $4,000,000 will be available for grants.
The CPL metro grant program will depend on support and technical advice from public land managers, habitat and acquisition specialists, and support staff. Stakeholders involved in this program include applicants, reviewers, and land managers. No opposition is known.
Grant activities include enhancement, restoration, and protection of forests, wetlands, prairies, and habitat for fish, game, or wildlife in Minnesota's municipalities and metro areas. Applicants will describe the project location, activity type and habitat, benefit to habitat, fish, game and wildlife, and duration of benefits. A 10% match from nonstate sources is required for all grants. Match may be cash or in-kind, and must be identified at time of application.
The metro grant program will be managed alongside the traditional Conservation Partners Legacy Grant Program. All personnel costs will be provided through the traditional CPL admin budget. CPL Program Staff will develop a Request for Proposal (RFP)/ Program Manual incorporating LSOHC priorities. Staff will also solicit applications, work with applicants to submit scoreable applications, oversee grant selection, prepare/execute grant documents, review expenditure documentation ensuring financial integrity, make payments, monitor grant work, assist recipients with closing out agreements, and prepare required reports. CPL staff complies with the Department of Administration-Office of Grants Management policies.
The RFP/Program Manual will be posted on the CPL website in August 2014. The metro CPL grant cycle will have one guaranteed grant round and a second round if more than $500,000 remains. Applications will be accepted online through mid-September for Round 1. The traditional CPL grant application system will be modified to include the metro cycle. Projects under $25,000 will have a simplified application. After two grant rounds, the Council may recommend the transfer of remaining funds to the Conservation Partners Legacy Grant Program ML2014. DNR may choose to make additional awards under this announcement, consistent with DNR and OHF policy and guidance, if additional funding becomes available or if a grantee cannot complete a project as planned.
Grant Selection Process
Metro CPL applications will be scored and ranked using a revised evaluation criteria based on the list below. CPL Grant Program Staff will review applications for completeness. Technical Review Committees, selected by the Commissioner of Natural Resources, will evaluate applications and a final score will be given to all applications. Committees may include representatives from local or county park districts, 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 comprised of directors of the DNR Divisions of Fish and Wildlife, Ecological and Water Resources, and Forestry will consider the TRC, Division and Regional DNR comments and recommend projects to the Commissioner. The Commissioner will make final funding 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.
Applications will be evaluated on the following criteria:
Amount/quality of habitat restored, enhanced, or protected
Degree of collaboration
Consistency with current conservation science
Adjacent to protected lands
Full funding of project
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 will submit accomplishment reports to L-SOHC as required and post reports on CPL website.
CPL Administration Budget
Grant administration costs of $70,000 will be billed using actual costs. Costs include travel, equipment, supplies, and professional services for outreach, monitoring, application and database maintenance, and advertising. An internal Service Level Agreement (SLA) will be developed with DNR’s Management Information Systems to update/manage the online grant application system. Direct Support Services costs will be minimal as all salary costs for this program will come out of the Conservation Partners Legacy Grant Program ML2014 admin funds. The admin budget from the traditional CPL grant program will fund the three FTEs necessary to run this new program along with the ongoing CPL grant program with a cumulative budget of over $20 million. As of May 2013, there are 148 active CPL grants, and an additional 42 grants have recently been completed and closed. Having 3 FTEs will ensure that the CPL program is able to effectively promote the program, monitor grants, and meet all program requirements.
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.
Grantees are paid on a reimbursement or “for services rendered” basis, meaning payment is made to the grantee after work has been performed or materials have been purchased, but before the vendor is paid by the grantee. Grantees must provide proof that work has been completed or a purchase has been made in order to receive payment. Proof that the vendor was paid must be submitted to CPL staff before additional grant payments are made. Funds may be advanced to acquisition projects to accommodate cash flow.