CA Conservation Innovation Grant - 2014

Quick Facts

Due DateMarch 14, 2014 (Friday)
Award Amount$ 25,000 - $ 75,000
Category of Funding ActivityNatural Resources
Eligible Applicants
  • State governments
  • County governments
  • City or township governments
  • Special district governments
  • Public and State controlled institutions of higher education
  • Native American tribal governments (Federally recognized)
  • Nonprofits having a 501 (c) (3) status with the IRS, other than institutions of higher education
  • Individuals

Program Description

SUMMARY: The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), an agency under the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), is announcing availability of Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) to stimulate the development and adoption of innovative conservation approaches and technologies. Applications will be accepted from California. NRCS anticipates that the amount available for support of this program in FY 2014 will be up to $375,000. Applications are requested from eligible governmental or non-governmental organizations or individuals for competitive consideration of grant awards for projects between one and three years in duration. Funds will be awarded through a two-phase statewide competitive grants process that will include (1) a pre-proposal process and (2) a full proposal process. The full proposal process will only be open to applicants whose pre-proposal applications are selected by NRCS. Both phases are described in this announcement, but only pre-proposals are being solicited at this time. This notice identifies the objectives, eligibility criteria, and application instructions for CIG projects. Applications will be screened for completeness and compliance with the provisions of this notice. Incomplete applications will be eliminated from competition, and notification of elimination will be mailed to the applicant. NRCS will request a full proposal package only from those applicants selected in the pre-proposal phase. DATES: Applications for the pre-proposal phase must be received by NRCS before 4:00 p.m. on March 14, 2014. NRCS will announce selected pre-proposal applications by April 18, 2014. Selected applicants will then be required to submit a full proposal package to NRCS by 4:00 p.m. on June 6, 2014. ADDRESSES: Applications sent via express mail or overnight courier service must be sent to the following address: USDA-NRCS, CIG Program, Attention Erik Beardsley, 430 G Street # 4146, Davis, CA 95616-4164. Applications sent via the United States Postal Service must be sent to the following address: USDA-NRCS, CIG Program, Attention Erik Beardsley, 430 G Street # 4146, Davis, CA 95616-4164. Applications sent electronically must be sent through www.grants.gov or by email to Erik.Beardsley@ca.usda.gov. For more information contact: Erik Beardsley State CIG Program Manager 430 G Street # 4146, Davis, CA 95616-4164 Phone: (530) 792-5649 E-mail: Erik.Beardsley@ca.usda.gov SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION I. FUNDING OPPORTUNITY DESCRIPTION A. Legislative Authority The Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) program was authorized as part of the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) (16 U.S.C. 3839aa-8) under section 2509 of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (Public Law 110-246). The Secretary of Agriculture delegated the authority for the administration of EQIP and CIG to the Chief of the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), who is Vice President of the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC). EQIP is funded and administered by NRCS under the authorities of the CCC. B. Overview The purpose of CIG is to stimulate the development and adoption of innovative conservation approaches and technologies, while leveraging the Federal investment in environmental enhancement and protection in conjunction with agricultural production. CIG projects are expected to lead to the transfer of conservation technologies, management systems, and innovative approaches into NRCS policy, technical manuals, guides, and references, or to the private sector. CIG does not fund research projects and projects intended to test hypotheses do not qualify for a CIG award. CIG is used to apply or demonstrate previously proven technology. It is a vehicle to stimulate development and adoption of conservation approaches or technologies that have been studied sufficiently to indicate a high likelihood of success, and that are candidates for eventual technology transfer or institutionalization. CIG promotes sharing of skills, knowledge, technologies, and facilities among communities, governments, and other institutions to ensure that scientific and technological developments are accessible to a wider range of users. CIG funds projects targeting innovative on-the-ground conservation, including pilot projects and field demonstrations. NRCS will accept applications under this notice for single or multi-year projects, not to exceed three years, submitted by eligible entities from California. Eligible entities include Federally recognized Indian Tribes, State and local units of government, and non-governmental organizations and individuals. A two-phase evaluation process will be utilized for applications submitted under this notice. The first phase requires the applicant to submit a pre-proposal application. Pre-proposal applications will be screened for completeness and compliance with the provisions of this notice. Incomplete applications will be eliminated from competition, and notification of elimination will be mailed to the applicant. NRCS staff will evaluate complete pre-proposal applications based on how they demonstrate the use of innovative technologies and/or approaches to address at least one of the topics provided in section I.D. of this notice. NRCS will only request a full proposal package from those applicants selected in the pre-proposal process. Complete applications received by applicable deadlines will be evaluated by a technical peer review panel based on the Application Evaluation Criteria identified in the application instructions in section VI.B. Full proposal applications, along with their associated technical peer review, will then be forwarded to the California Review Board. The California Review Board will make its recommendations for project approval to the NRCS State Conservationist who will make the final selections. C. Innovative Conservation Projects or Activities For the purposes of CIG, the proposed innovative project or activity must encompass the development, demonstration, evaluation, implementation, and monitoring of the following: ? Conservation adoption approaches or incentive systems; ? Promising conservation technologies, practices, systems, procedures, or approaches; or ? Environmental soundness with goals of environmental protection and natural resource enhancement. To be given consideration, the innovative project or activity must comply with all federal, state, and local regulations throughout the duration of the project and should: ? Make use of a proven technology or a technology that has been studied sufficiently to indicate a high probability of success; ? Demonstrate and verify environmental (e.g., soil, water, air, plants, energy, and animal) effectiveness, utility, affordability, and usability of conservation technology in the field; ? Adapt conservation technologies, management, practices, systems, procedures, approaches, and incentive systems to improve performance and encourage adoption; ? Introduce conservation systems, approaches, and procedures from another geographic area or agricultural sector; or ? Demonstrate transferability of knowledge. D. State Component California CIG Criteria ? The projects need to be designed with an understanding of NRCS practice standards, pertinent assessment tools, and planning criteria, and result in technology or methods that can be used to augment agency technical guidance. For NRCS technical reference materials please visit the California electronic Field Office Technical Guide (eFOTG) at http://efotg.sc.egov.usda.gov/treemenuFS.aspx Planning Technology: ? Demonstrate the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) equipped with remote sensing technology (digital video cameras, infrared or other sensors) for evaluating resource impacts and monitoring conservation treatments on cropland, pastureland, forestland or rangeland. Soil Health: ? Develop a comprehensive comparison of soil quality between traditional farming on surface irrigated land and no-till farming on the same land using a center pivot or linear role. ? Demonstrate integrated systems with practices and management for increasing soil organic matter in high-intensity vegetable production. ? Demonstrate technology for rapid field assessment of soil health in cropland or rangeland, or forestland. ? Demonstrate how improved soil health and biological function can reduce the potential for denitrification or nitrate leaching. ? Demonstrate effective alternatives to soil fumigation that also maintain soil structure and biology. ? Demonstrate how improved soil health can improve overall irrigation efficiency. ? On forestlands, demonstrate the use of a suite of conservation practices to improve soil health (site quality) that can improve long-term forest productivity. Water Quality: ? Demonstrate how technologies like IWM, bioreactors, biological control of pests, and vegetated ditches can be used in conservation systems to reduce the amount of nutrients, pesticides and sediment leaving irrigated cropland. ? Demonstrate technologies to monitor and document the effects of conservation practices addressing water quality. ? Demonstrate and develop implementation criteria and guidance for new and innovative systems to improve rates, timing and uniformity of manure applications to farm land. ? Demonstrate and develop grazing management prescriptions and conservation practices that improve water quality on rangelands and/or pasture. ? Demonstrate and develop forest management prescriptions using a suite of conservation practices that improve water quality on forestlands. ? Evaluate and demonstrate rangeland conservation practices that improve water quality. ? Demonstrate and develop implementation criteria and guidance for methods or equipment that producers can use to indicate nitrate leaching below the root zone. ? Ground truth/calibrate NRCS tools such as the Water Quality Index for Agriculture. ? Demonstrate how pollinator habitat could also function for water quality (runoff avoidance, erosion control in hilly areas, water conservation through increased infiltration). ? Develop systems to better manage nitrogen fertilization to reduce nitrate leaching potential into groundwater. ? Demonstrate methods to utilize nitrates in groundwater as sources of fertilizer for agricultural purposes. Water Quantity: ? Demonstrate and develop implementation criteria and guidance for new and innovative methods or procedures for on-farm irrigation flow measurement used for irrigation scheduling; or irrigation performance evaluation. ? Demonstrate and develop implementation criteria and guidance for forest vegetation management practices designed to increase water quantity and/or longer release of water downstream while maintaining ecosystem services of water quality, soil health, pest resilience and wildlife. ? Demonstrate and develop implementation criteria and guidance for new and innovative irrigation scheduling tools, methods or systems. Demonstrate and develop implementation criteria and guidance for new and innovative subsurface drip irrigation system performance evaluation. ? Develop, demonstrate and evaluate rangeland conservation practices and livestock management prescriptions that improve water quality and increase effective water retention and storage on rangelands. Plant Quality: ? Develop for the CA Forest Health Scorecard, a minimum set of forest health indicators, by forest type, for planned forest stocking to support both ecosystem services (soil health, water quality, pest resilience and wildlife) and economic viability. Air Quality & Climate Change: ? Demonstrate practical methods for amending cropland, pasture or rangeland soil with organic soil additives (e.g. compost or biochar) to increase soil water holding capacity and soil organic matter content. Projects must provide monitoring methods for collecting data to estimate potential reduced ambient greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions; carbon sequestration; or soil decontamination benefits. ? Demonstrate practical adaptation strategies for crop systems affected by drought to address salinity intrusion in water; disconnects between flowering and pollination; or other climate change impacts. Example: Modification of typical pollinator hedgerow plant mixes to increase native pollinator and honey bee resilience to changes in flower opening timing. ? Demonstrate benefits of conservation tillage and monitoring methods/technology for collecting data to estimate potential benefits such as improved soil water holding capacity and increased soil organic matter as drought adaption strategies; reduced fuel use; increased carbon sequestration; or reduced GHG emissions. ? Evaluate and document rangeland conservation practices to reduce greenhouse gasses (GHGs) Air Quality & Climate Change Continued): ? Demonstrate the transferability and practicality of infrared technology, aerial imagery or other innovative peer reviewed technologies currently available that provides real time data for use toward planning conservation practices that will reduce emissions. ? Evaluate existing systems or technology that can quantify emissions reductions to evaluate applications of on-farm pesticide, fertilizer applications or tillage operations toward monitoring resource concern improvements using GIS or other tools. ? Demonstrate proven technology systems used to reduce carbon based fossil fuels that can be used to address NRCS air quality resource concerns. ? Review Practice Standards, Specifications and job sheets to assess practicality for incorporating the use of infrared, aerial imagery or other innovative peer reviewed technologies currently available for evaluating impacts on air quality by farming operations. Energy Conservation: ? Evaluate and demonstrate reductions of on-farm greenhouse gas emissions through the use of on-farm renewable energy systems (e.g. hydropower, solar, geothermal, biomass gasification, acidification and/or wind) that displace fossil fuel based energy. ? Develop a comprehensive energy use comparison between traditional farming on surface irrigated land and no-till farming on the same land using a center pivot or linear role. Include all fuel and electrical energy to develop a successful crop. ? Develop and/or demonstrate innovative implementation systems to increase on-farm energy efficiency by achieving greater use of energy audits that address both headquarters (buildings, equipment) and landscape (management practices) level operations and an increase in adoption of energy efficiency equipment upgrades. ? Demonstrate the feasibility and document the relevant issues associated with biomass to energy projects using conversion technologies such as anaerobic digestion, transesterification, hydro-treating, thermal conversion, and biomass-to-Liquid. ? Evaluate and demonstrate irrigation related energy savings through the use of telemetry-enabled soil moisture monitoring networks and automated application system controls. ? Develop and/or demonstrate innovative implementation systems to increase energy savings through adaptive management cropping systems that utilize crop rotations that include legumes and grasses in long term no-till systems that will increase nutrient cycling through enhanced soil biological activity. ? Demonstrate the feasibility and document the relevant issues associated with using low-head hydropower turbines in surface water sources such as in-stream installations and small dams (e.g. using a flow-through or pump-back configuration). Waste Recycling- Resource Conservation ? Evaluate and demonstrate the technologies for recycling excessive biomass waste with the creation of on-farm/in-forest products (e.g. biochar, gasification, energy products and/ or remanufacturing). ? Develop and/or demonstrate innovative biomass recycling systems through a waste management system plan or equivalent to increase the conservation benefits of fire hazard reduction and/or decrease the cost of installing conservation practices by the salvage of unwanted biomass created by a conservation practice. ? Evaluate and document the relevant issues associated with using unused/unwanted biomass and the desired retention qualifications or conservation thresholds associated with wildlife, fire hazard and plant, water and soil quality. ? Develop and/or demonstrate the California use of the National Conservation Practice 633- Waste Recycling standard, its considerations and conservation guidelines for forestland biomass recycling, energy use and/or reduction and at least one example of an in-forest waste recycling specification, job sheet and a waste management system plan or equivalent. Wildlife: ? Develop strategies to integrate wildlife habitat management into the agricultural working lands matrix to promote holistic, ecosystem-based conservation plans that support the suite of ecosystem services. ? Demonstrate cost, effectiveness, and durability of alternatives or modifications to wood fence corner posts that provide raptor perches. ? Demonstrate cost, effectiveness, and durability of alternatives or modifications to capping open pipes used in NRCS conservation practices, to reduce trapping of birds and other wildlife. ? Development of CA Ecological Site Description Database of wildlife species associated with ESDs at the Land Resource Unit (LRU) including species recognized as obligate, focal, keystone and/or ?drivers? of plant communities. ? Demonstrate and quantify the impacts of grazing as a sage-grouse habitat management tool in meadows and sage-brush communities. ? Document the benefits to other wildlife species of improving native

General Information

Funding Opportunity NumberUSDA-NRCS-CA-14-0008
Funding Opportunity TitleCA Conservation Innovation Grant - 2014
Opportunity CategoryNatural Resources
Funding Instrument TypeCooperative Agreement
Category ExplanationNot Available
Number of Awards5
Cost Sharing or Matching RequirementYes
Posted DateFebruary 12, 2014 (Wednesday)
Application Due DateMarch 14, 2014 (Friday)
Application Archive DateSeptember 30, 2014 (Tuesday)
Total Program Funding$ 375,000
Award Amount$ 25,000 - $ 75,000
CFDA Number
  • 10.912 - Environmental Quality Incentives Program

Eligible Applicants

  • State governments
  • County governments
  • City or township governments
  • Special district governments
  • Public and State controlled institutions of higher education
  • Native American tribal governments (Federally recognized)
  • Nonprofits having a 501 (c) (3) status with the IRS, other than institutions of higher education
  • Individuals

Contact Information

Agency NameDepartment of Agriculture
Program Information Website-
ContactOffice: Natural Resources Conservation Service
Address: California State Office
Kimberly Pedersen
Grants/Agreements Specialist
Phone 530-792-5678
work email

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