'Sustain Our Great Lakes' grant pre-proposals due soon

Staff reports
The Chronicle-Express

Includes most of the Finger Lakes region and new farming category; pre-proposals due Feb. 16

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) reminds potential grant applicants that pre-proposals for the 2021 Sustain Our Great Lakes (SOGL) grants are due Feb. 16.

The Sustain Our Great Lakes (SOGL) program is soliciting proposals to benefit fish, wildlife, habitat and water quality in the Great Lakes basin. The program will award approximately $8.5 million in grants in 2021 to improve and enhance: 1) stream, riparian and coastal habitats; 2) water quality in the Great Lakes and its tributaries.

The program is administered by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) in partnership with ArcelorMittal, General Mills, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S.D.A. Forest Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and U.S.D.A. Natural Resources Conservation Service. Significant program funding is provided by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI), a federal program designed to protect, restore and enhance the Great Lakes ecosystem. Up to $7.2 million in funding may be available for projects in the United States portion of the current or historic Great Lakes basin.

Program priorities

All proposals must specifically address how projects will directly and measurably contribute to the accomplishment of program goals. Further information on the program goals can be found in NFWF's Great Lakes Business Plan. In 2021, grant funding will be awarded in six categories:

1. Restore and Enhance Stream and Riparian Habitat

2. Restore and Enhance Coastal Habitats

3. Expand Green Stormwater Infrastructure in Great Lakes Communities

4. Maintain and Enhance Benefits of Habitat Restoration through Invasive Species Control

5. Restore and Preserve Natural Areas and Biodiversity in Wisconsin's Lake Michigan Watershed

6. New in 2021: Accelerate Implementation of Conservation Practices and Regenerative Agriculture on Working Lands

This No. 6 category, new in 2021, will direct approximately $1 million in funding to projects that improve water quality, soil health, biodiversity and working land resilience by providing technical assistance to landowners with a focus on accelerating the planning and adoption of regenerative agriculture (RA) principles. RA is a systems-approach to farming and ranching that integrates multiple principles of agricultural management for improving ecosystem function and resilience (such as): 1) minimize chronic disturbances to the soil and biological community, 2) maximize diversity of plants and animals, 3) keep the soil covered, and 4) keep a living root in the ground at all times.

Grant uses

Grant funding will be used to hire field conservation professionals who will work directly with landowners to develop and implement planning and stewardship actions that generate economic resilience benefits alongside positive environmental outcomes. Projects should be designed to offer technical assistance that is adaptable to each producer's unique goals, experience, tolerance to risk, and other factors that affect their path to a regenerative system. Individual grant awards will range from $100,000 to $300,000.

Competitive proposals will encourage and support landowners in developing and/or advancing a comprehensive holistic approach to managing working lands that build back soil productivity and function and enhance the ecosystem. Competitive projects will facilitate programs that advance multiple points of entry for farmers and producers and that seek to increase enrollment in Farm Bill practices in complement to advancing RA principles and/or developing RA management plans.

Approximately $8.5 million is expected to be available for grant awards in 2021. In the past three years, the program has awarded an average of 25 grants per year, representing an application success rate of 22%.

Anticipated completion time for funded projects will typically be two years following finalization of a grant agreement. The standard grant period may include a third year in cases with a demonstrated need for additional time to complete planning, permitting, final design, engineering, implementation or monitoring.

Matching funds

The ratio of matching contributions offered to grant funding requested is one criterion considered during the review process, and projects that offer a 1:1 match ratio with contributions from non-federal sources will be more competitive. Applicants are also encouraged to indicate relevant federal contributions as a way to demonstrate the scope of partner investment in the project. Matching contributions must be spent or applied between the start and end dates indicated in the application.

Matching contributions may include cash, in-kind contributions of staff and volunteer time, work performed, materials and services donated, or other tangible contributions to the project objectives and outcomes. The cost of land acquisition or easement may also qualify as leverage for a project involving work at the protected site.

Eligibility

Eligible applicants include non-profit 501(c) organizations, state government agencies, local governments, municipal governments, Tribal governments and organizations, and educational institutions. Ineligible applicants include federal government agencies, unincorporated individuals, and private for-profit businesses.

--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.

--Equipment: Applicants are encouraged to rent equipment where possible and cost-effective or use matching funds to make those purchases. NFWF acknowledges, however, that some projects may only be completed using NFWF funds to procure equipment. If this applies to your project, please contact the program staff listed in this RFP to discuss options.

--Federal funds and matching contributions may not be used to procure or obtain equipment, services, or systems (including entering into or renewing a contract) that uses telecommunications equipment or services produced by Huawei Technologies Company or ZTE Corporation (or any subsidiary or affiliate of such entities) as a substantial or essential component, or as critical technology of any system. Refer to Public Law 115-232, section 889 for additional information.

Learn more about the grant process at: www.nfwf.org/programs/sustain-our-great-lakes-program/sustain-our-great-lakes-2021-request-proposals.

The Sustain Our Great Lakes (SOGL) program is soliciting proposals to benefit fish, wildlife, habitat and water quality in the Great Lakes basin.