Jan. 3, 2019
Today, NACD is pleased to announce the availability of $9 million in technical assistance grants for conservation districts.
Like the first round of technical assistance (TA) grants, this funding will help conservation districts build capacity and enhance their ability to provide conservation planning and technical assistance to customers. These funds, provided in cooperation with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), will be administered by NACD to conservation districts in high-priority workload locations across the nation. The highest priority locations will be identified by state/territory conservation partnership leaders based on three criteria:
- The conservation districts’ natural resource concerns;
- Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and conservation planning workloads; and
- Staffing requirements given these workloads.
For tribal conservation district applications, NACD asks state/territory partnership leaders to inform tribal leaders of this opportunity and advise them to send their submissions directly to NACD Director of Projects and Partnerships Rich Duesterhaus at email@example.com.
Of the $9 million available to conservation districts through this grant opportunity, $2,700,000 will be allocated to hire district employees to assist landowners in implementing EQIP contracts. Additionally, $3,150,000 is available for conservation districts that require increased capacity to provide conservation operations technical assistance (COTA) planning funds, and another $3,150,000 is available for conservation districts requiring greater access to CSP. Overall, NACD anticipates about 180 years of staff work will be funded through these agreements with conservation districts. Staff costs will vary across the nation given differences in position type and cost of living.
NACD is soliciting applications from all state/territory conservation partnerships for these funds. For most states/territories, partnerships will include representatives of a state/territory association of conservation districts, NRCS, state conservation agency, association of conservation district employees and the state’s resource conservation and development (RC&D) councils or association where applicable.
Each state/territory partnership is asked to work together to develop a request for funding. In every state and territory, the NRCS state conservationist will provide data on conservation workload essential to developing an application.
The National Conservation Partnership—made up of NACD, NRCS, the National Conservation District Employees Association (NCDEA), the National Association of State Conservation Agencies (NASCA) and the National Association of RC&D Councils (NARC&DCs)—sees this grant opportunity as an additional way to strengthen state conservation partnerships’ delivery of conservation services. To learn more about the National Conservation Partnership’s goal to build and galvanize state conservation partnerships, see the 2015 National Conservation Partnership MOA.
Each application for funding requires:
- A 20 percent contribution of total application costs. Out of the total cost of the proposal, NACD will contribute 80 percent of the funds, and the applicant will contribute 20 percent as match funding. Cash or in-kind match will be accepted, as well as a mix of the two. Overall, NACD’s agreement with NRCS requires a 25 percent match. However, for each NACD-district agreement, NACD is fulfilling the first 5 percent.
- Accomplishment metrics (viewable on application form) with the planned accomplishments filled in for each proposal, e.g. number of practices, contracts or plans assisted. Some metrics will be applicable to all NACD-district agreements, while others will vary based on the specific work being carried out.
- Quarterly reports on progress, including on accomplishment metrics.
- State partnership cover sheet, which includes state partnership leaders’ signatures. There is also space on the cover sheet for signatures from the individual district where work will occur.
- Completed applications, designated in priority order, for each conservation district proposal, including planned budget and match information.
- Applications for conservation operations technical assistance (COTA) or conservation planning funds must include a narrative of up to 200 words describing the type and importance of conservation planning work to be done.
Recipient conservation districts will have at least 13 months to use their funds following the receipt of their first payment. Some multi-year agreements of two or three years may be approved, and conservation districts will have additional time to use funds. In case of extenuating circumstances, a time extension may be granted, but conservation districts are asked to use their funds to increase technical assistance capacity in as timely and effective a manner as possible and according to the terms of the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) signed with NACD.
Evaluation of Applications
State and territory partner applications will be evaluated by a National Conservation Partnership panel after the closing date for applications of March 1, 2019. The evaluation will include state priority rankings (the first step of the application), national EQIP workload by state, national CSP workload by state, completeness of application, and for conservation planning funds, a narrative justifying conservation planning needs, including any high-priority situations such as hurricane or storm recovery areas.
NACD’s goal is to have the $9 million in available funds committed by March 31, 2019. A payment for the first quarter year of expenses will be provided to a recipient conservation district shortly after notification of their selection. This payment will help conservation districts/grant recipients begin the hiring process as soon as possible. Once a conservation district signs an agreement with NACD, the remaining agreed-to amount will be advanced in quarterly installments as performance is accomplished. The agreement holders/signers will be responsible for the completion of the agreed-upon work and should complete that work within 13 months or the length of the agreement where it is longer than one year.
After working with state conservation partnership leaders, applications should be submitted by a state/territory association of conservation districts to both NACD Director of Projects and Partnerships Rich Duesterhaus and NACD Projects and Partnerships Coordinator Carlton Bridgeforth with a copy to the state/territory’s respective NACD regional representative (listed below).
Please contact NACD’s regional representatives with questions:
A one-page briefer about this project, containing a timeline, is available on NACD’s Technical Assistance webpage, along with a set of frequently asked questions (FAQs). These documents may be updated as the application process continues; please consult and review them while preparing applications.
Thank you for your interest in this opportunity to advance conservation delivery to customers and the conservation partnership.
Chief Executive Officer
National Association of Conservation Districts