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Notice

North American Wetlands Conservation Act: Request for Small Grants Proposals for Year 2004

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AGENCY:

Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION:

Notice of request for proposals.

SUMMARY:

The purpose of this notice is to advise the public that we, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) and the North American Wetlands Conservation Council (Council), are currently entertaining proposals that request match funding for wetland and wetland-associated upland conservation projects under the Small Grants program. Projects must meet the purposes of the North American Wetlands Conservation Act of 1989, as amended. We will give funding priority to projects from new grant applicants with new partners, where the project ensures long-term conservation benefits. However, previous Act grantees are eligible to receive funding and can compete successfully on the basis of strong project resource values.

DATES:

Proposals must be postmarked no later than Friday, November 28, 2003.

ADDRESSES:

Address proposals to: Division of Bird Habitat Conservation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 4401 North Fairfax Drive, Mail Stop 4075, Arlington, Virginia 22203, Attn: Small Grants Coordinator.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Dr. Keith A. Morehouse, Small Grants Coordinator, or Office Secretary, Division of Bird Habitat Conservation, 703.358.1784; facsimile 703.358.2282.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

The purpose of the 1989 North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA), as amended (16 U.S.C. 4401 et seq.) is, through partnerships, to promote long-term conservation of North American wetland ecosystems and the waterfowl and other migratory birds, fish and wildlife that depend upon such habitats. Principal conservation actions supported by NAWCA are acquisition, enhancement and restoration of wetlands and wetlands-associated upland habitat.

Initiated in 1996, the underlying objective of the NAWCA-based Small Grants program is to promote long-term wetlands conservation activities through encouraging participation by new grantees and partners who may not otherwise be able to compete in the Standard Grants program. We also hope that successful participants in the Small Grants program later will be encouraged to participate as a grantee or partner in the Standard Grants program. Over the first seven years of the Small Grants program, about 630 proposals requesting a total of approximately $24.1 million competed for funding. Ultimately, 206 projects were funded over this period for about $8.7 million. For 2004, with the approval of the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission, we have made the Small Grants program operational at approximately $2.0 million. That is, up to $2.0 million in Small Grants wetland projects may be funded. However, ultimately, the level of Small Grant funding depends upon the quality of the pool of grant proposals.

To be considered for funding in the 2004 cycle, proposals must have a grant request no greater than $50,000. We will accept all wetland conservation proposals that meet the requirements of the Act. However, considering appropriate proposal resource values, we will give funding priority to projects from new grant applicants (individuals or organizations who have never received a NAWCA grant) with new partners, where the project ensures Start Printed Page 44966long-term conservation benefits. This priority system does not preclude former NAWCA grant recipients from receiving Small Grants funding; ultimately, project resource value is the critical factor in deciding which projects receive funding. Also, projects are likely to receive a greater level of attention if they are part of a broader related or unrelated effort to bring or restore wetland or wetland-associated upland conservation values to a particular area or region.

In addition, proposals must represent on-the-ground projects, and any overhead in the project budget must constitute 10 percent or less of the grant amount. The anticipated magnitude of wetlands and wildlife resources benefits that will result from project execution is an important factor in proposal evaluation, and there should be a reasonable balance between acreages of wetlands and wetland-associated uplands. As per the Act, mitigation-related projects are not considered for funding.

Please keep in mind that NAWCA and matching funds may be applied only to wetlands acquisition, creation, enhancement, and/or restoration; they may not be applied to signage, displays, trails or other educational features, materials and equipment, even though the goal of the project may ultimately be to support wetland conservation education curricula. Projects oriented toward education are not ordinarily eligible for NAWCA funding because education is not a primary purpose of the Act. However, acceptable project outcomes can include educational benefits resulting from conservation actions. Research is also not a primary purpose of the Act, and research proposals are not considered for funding.

Even though we require less total application information for Small Grants than we do for the Standard Grants program, Small Grant proposals must have clear explanations and meet the basic purposes given above and the 1:1 or greater non-Federal matching requirements of the NAWCA. Small Grants projects must also be consistent with Council-established guidelines, objectives and policies. All non-Federal matching funds and proposed expenditures of grant funds must be consistent with Appendix A of the Small Grants instructions, “Eligibility Requirements for Match of NAWCA Grant and Non-Federal Funds.” Applicants must submit a completed Standard Form 424, Application For Federal Assistance. Hard copies of Small Grant instructions (booklets) are no longer provided, except under special circumstances. However, the NAWCA Program website, birdhabitat.fws.gov, contains instructions for completing and submitting a Small Grant application, as well as forms and instructions for the Standard Form 424.

Small Grant proposals may be submitted prior to the due date but must be postmarked no later than Friday, November 28, 2003. Address submitted proposals as follows: Division of Bird Habitat Conservation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 4401 North Fairfax Drive, Mail Stop MSBP4075, Arlington, VA 22203, Attn: Small Grants Coordinator.

Applicants must submit complete grant request packages to the Division of Bird Habitat Conservation (DBHC), including all of the documentation of partners (partner letters) with funding pledge amounts. Information on funding in partner letters, i.e., amounts and description regarding use, must correspond with budget amounts in the budget table and any figures provided in the narrative.

With the volume of proposals received, we usually are not able to contact proposal sources to verify and/or request supplemental data and/or materials. Thus, those proposals lacking required information or containing conflicting information are subject to being declared ineligible and not further considered for funding.

For more information, call the DBHC office secretary at 703.358.1784, facsimile 703.358.2282, or send e-mail to dbhc@fws.gov. Small Grant application instructions may be available by E-mail as a WordPerfect© file, upon special request.

In conclusion, we require that, upon arrival in the DBHC, proposal packages must be: complete with regard to the information requested, presented in the format requested, and be presented according to the established deadline.

The Service submitted information collection requirements to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review and approval under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, Public Law 104-13. On August 28, 2002, OMB gave its approval for this information collection and confirmed the approval number as 1018-0100; this approval expires on August 31, 2005. An agency may not conduct or sponsor, and a person is not required to respond to, a collection of information unless it displays a currently valid OMB control number. The information collection solicited: is necessary to gain a benefit in the form of a grant, as determined by the North American Wetlands Conservation Council and the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission; is necessary to determine the eligibility and relative value of wetland projects; results in an approximate paperwork burden of 80 hours per application; and does not carry a premise of confidentiality. The information collections in this program will not be part of a system of records covered by the Privacy Act (5 U.S.C. 552(a)).

Starting October 1, 2003, applicants are required to provide a DUNS number when submitting applications for a Federal Government grant. Thus, this requirement will be in effect for the November 28, 2003, postmarking deadline of the Small Grants applications for 2004 funding. A DUNS number is a 9-digit unique identifier available from Dun and Bradstreet, either through the Web site at http://www.dunandbradstreet.com or by phone at 1.866.705.5711.

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Dated: July 17, 2003.

Matt Hogan,

Acting Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

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[FR Doc. 03-19523 Filed 7-30-03; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 4310-55-P