State Conservation Innovation Grant 2014

Quick Facts

Due DateMay 9, 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)
  • Public housing authorities/Indian housing authorities
  • Nonprofits having a 501 (c) (3) status with the IRS, other than institutions of higher education
  • Private institutions of higher education
  • Individuals

Program Description

DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE AGENCY: Natural Resources Conservation Service, Commodity Credit Corporation ACTION: NOTICE Conservation Innovation Grants Fiscal Year (FY) 2014 Announcement for Program Funding-Vermont Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number: 10.912 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Vermont (VT), an agency under the United States Department of Agriculture, is announcing availability of Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) to stimulate the development and adoption of innovative conservation approaches and technologies. NRCS anticipates that the amount available for support of the Vermont State CIG competition in Fiscal Year (FY) 2014 will be approximately $212,000. Funds will be awarded through a statewide competitive grants process. Only projects with a direct nexus to the state of Vermont will be considered. There are three categories of natural resources concerns or technology needs in the State CIG for FY 2014. Applications are requested from eligible governmental or non-governmental organizations, individuals or legal entities for competitive consideration of grant awards for projects between 1 and 3 years in duration. This notice identifies the objectives for CIG projects, the eligibility criteria for projects, and provides the associated instructions needed to apply to CIG. DATES: Applications must be received in the NRCS Vermont State Office by 4 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) on Friday, May 9, 2014. ADDRESSES: The address for hand-delivered applications or applications submitted using mail or overnight courier service is: Conservation Innovation Grants Program, c/o Robert Kort, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, 356 Mountain View Drive, Suite 105, Colchester, Vermont 05446. Contact phone number for hand-delivered applications is (802) 951-6796 x233 or 221. To submit your application electronically, email materials to bob.kort@vt.usda.gov or visit Grants.gov-Apply for Grants and follow the instructions. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Robert Kort, Vermont State CIG Program Manager, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, 356 Mountain View Drive, Suite 105, Colchester, VT 05446; Phone: (802) 951-6796 x233; Fax: (802) 655-0638; email: bob.kort@vt.usda.gov, Subject: Conservation Innovation Grants APF; or consult the Vermont NRCS web site at http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/detail/vt/programs/?cid=nrcs142p2_010522   I. FUNDING OPPORTUNITY DESCRIPTION A. Legislative Authority Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) were authorized as part of the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) [16 U.S.C. 3839aa-8] under the Agricultural Act of 2014 (2014 Farm Bill). 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. Projects intended to formulate hypothesis do not qualify for a CIG project. CIG is used to apply or demonstrate previously proven technology. It is a vehicle to stimulate the 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. Vermont NRCS will accept applications under this notice for single or multi-year projects, not to exceed 3 years. Applications can be submitted to NRCS from eligible entities including Federally-recognized Indian Tribes, State and local governments, non-governmental organizations, individuals and legal entities. Applications must have a direct nexus to the state of Vermont and include an entity from Vermont as part of the project management. 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 sent to the applicant. Complete applications received by the applicable deadline that comply with the provisions of this notice will be evaluated by a technical peer review panel and scored based on the Criteria for Application Evaluation identified in this document. Scored applications will be forwarded to the Vermont State Conservationist who will make the final award selections. The State Conservationist reserves the right to not fund any or all proposals. C. Innovative Conservation Projects or Activities For the purposes of CIG, the proposed innovative project or activity must encompass the development and field testing, evaluation, implementation, and monitoring of: ? Conservation adoption approaches or incentive systems; or ? Promising conservation technologies, practices, systems, procedures, or approaches; and ? Environmental soundness with goals of environmental protection and natural resource enhancement.   To be given priority consideration, the innovative project or activity: ? Makes use of a proven technology or a technology that has been studied sufficiently to indicate a high probability for success; ? Demonstrates and verifies environmental (soil, water, air, plants, energy, and animal) effectiveness, utility, affordability, and usability of conservation technology in the field; ? Adapt conservation technologies, 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. CIG Categories For Fiscal Year (FY) 2014, the Vermont State CIG has three categories of natural resources concerns and technology needs for possible funding. Applicants must identify the most appropriate category for the topic of their proposal. The categories are: Water Quality and Soil Health, Forestry/Wildlife, and Energy. Note that the Water Quality and Soil Health and Forestry/Wildlife categories have priority topics identified, while the Energy category does not identify priority topics. Beginning Farmers, Limited Resource Farmers, Federally recognized Indian Tribes or members of Federally recognized Indian Tribes, or community-based organizations comprised of or representing these entities, are encouraged to submit application(s) in any of the categories. 1. Water Quality and Soil Health The topics listed below have been identified as priority water quality areas for consideration and funding under the Vermont CIG in 2014. Other innovative conservation approaches and technologies will be considered if they demonstrate improved implementation of NRCS water quality improvement conservation practices. ? Wetlands Restoration Demonstration and Monitoring Project: Mosquitoes are natural components of many types of wetland ecosystems. It is well documented in the scientific literature that dragonflies, damselflies, backswimmer bugs, salamander larvae, fish and other mosquito predators in wetlands can reduce mosquito populations. Restored wetlands along riparian areas improve water quality by storing floodwater, retaining sediment, and retaining, removing, and transforming nutrients. However, public perception of natural and restored wetland sites remains mixed, with appreciation of wetland functions and values including floodwater retention, wildlife habitat, and aesthetics coupled with fears that all wetlands produce mosquitoes and that all mosquitoes are vectors for diseases such as West Nile Virus or Eastern Equine Encephalitis. These negative public perceptions of wetlands are a barrier to further participation in and public acceptance of wetlands restoration projects. Using restored wetlands as demonstration sites to showcase wetlands restoration practices and related mosquito and mosquito predator populations along with public education and outreach will increase awareness of the benefits of wetlands restoration. Under this project the applicant will sample two NRCS-identified restored floodplain wetlands and two nearby currently drained floodplain wetland hayfields or pastures dominated by Reed Canarygrass. NRCS will be involved in an advisory capacity on sample design. Mosquito sampling will follow VT Agency of Agriculture protocols and recommendations. Sampling and species identification will include three years of data collection on a minimum of the following for each area: o Mosquito Larvae and adults o Invertebrate larvae and adults (ex. dragonflies and damselflies) o Fish Required project deliverables include: o Providing two mosquito and mosquito predator sampling workshops for interested citizen scientists, mosquito detection volunteers with mosquito control districts, or other participants. (One for each demonstration site) o Two onsite field trips for the general public (one for each demonstration site) o Data from field sampling o Final report summarizing findings from field sampling o Fact sheet detailing demonstration site results o Creation of a presentation showing results of demonstration site sampling o Presentation of results presented at three public forums within the towns nearby demonstration sites . ? Demonstration and Evaluation of a Phosphorus Removal System for Tile Drainage: Tile drainage systems in agricultural fields have the potential to deliver significant concentrations and loads of phosphorus to surfaces waters. Increasing attention is being focused on tile discharge and its treatment as one more means of meeting TMDL goals for phosphorus reduction in Vermont. A new interim practice standard, Phosphorus Removal System (782), has been recently developed and approved by NRCS for use in Vermont. This practice will be used to capture phosphorus in tile discharge and reduce the concentration and loadings to surface waters. A number of different types of material can be used in these ?in line? systems as treatment media of the discharge water. As a new agricultural Best Management Practice (BMP) there is the need to demonstrate its use on a Vermont farm and to provide some evaluation of its practicality and efficiency. Under this project the applicant will identify a suitable Vermont farm(s) and field to implement at least two of these practices. The systems will be designed and constructed as required by the NRCS practice standard for Phosphorus Removal System. Different adsorption media will be evaluated and two will be selected for installation in the two systems for comparison purposes. The systems will be evaluated for a minimum of two years after construction. Evaluation will include documentation of construction costs, procedures and treatment materials evaluated for use. A minimum of 20 paired water quality samples will be collected for each system to show differences in phosphorus concentrations between inflows and outflows. If possible, phosphorus loading estimates and reductions will also be provided. An important part of the project will be to provide tours of the sites, information pamphlets and other media to promote the practice in Vermont. A final report will also be provided as part of the project. ? Demonstration and Evaluation of Adaptive Nutrient Management Approach: The adaptive management approach enables growers to use a data-driven process to refine nutrient management to better adapt to conditions encountered on their farms. The adaptive nutrient management approach can be used to: o Introduce new nutrient management technologies o Improve the nutrient use efficiency o Decrease the loss of nutrients to the environment o Use tools and/or techniques for nutrient management that are not currently in use o Evaluate post-season site-specific data that can be used to establish future optimal nutrient applications Adaptive nutrient management is a process for evaluating and adjusting nutrient management based on data collected at the field level following a set of protocols. The four basic steps involve: Step 1 ? Develop the plan for the evaluation; Step 2 ? Implement the nutrient management plan; Step 3 ? Evaluate the plan based on lessons learned; Step 4 ? Adjust the nutrient management. Proper protocols can be found in NRCS Agronomy Technical Note No. 6, Adaptive Nutrient Management, http://directives.sc.egov.usda.gov/OpenNonWebContent.aspx?content=30618.wba As a new Agricultural Best Management Practice (BMP) there is the need to demonstrate its use on a Vermont farm and to provide some evaluation of its practicality and efficiency. Under this project the applicant will identify a suitable Vermont farm and fields to implement this approach. The process will be evaluated for a minimum of three years and shall follow NRCS protocols. An important part of the project will be to provide workshop presentations, information pamphlets and other media to promote the process in Vermont. A final report will also be provided as part of the project. ? Development of a Vermont Phosphorus Mass Balance Tool for Vermont Farms: Vermont farms have been identified as a significant source of non-point phosphorus in many Vermont watersheds. Increasing attention is being focused on the amount of phosphorus being imported to farms versus the amount that is safely exported. Examining and correcting the phosphorus mass balance for farms is one more means of reducing field losses of phosphorus and meeting TMDL goals for phosphorus reduction in Vermont. There are several existing tools available for quantifying farm phosphorus mass balances, including the Cornell Phosphorus Mass Balance Tool. These tools each have advantages and disadvantages. For example the Cornell tool requires extensive data input similar to what is required for development of a nutrient management plan. There is the need to use, modify or develop a phosphorus mass balance tool for Vermont that can be easily completed with a minimal amount of data. Under this project the applicant will evaluate existing tools to quantify phosphorus mass balances on Vermont farms. One tool will be selected, modified or developed for use by resource managers and farmers. The tool will then be applied to a minimum of three different farms as a demonstration. The selected farms should vary in size and type. As part of the project several training sessions will be provided to interested parties that would potentially use the tool in the future. A final project report will also be provided that includes instructions on model use. ? Short-Season Silage Corn and Cover Crop Program: Many Vermont dairy farmers are struggling to implement cover crops. One reason for this is that the typical long-season maturity varieties of corn are generally harvested too late in the year to allow for proper establishment of cover crops in the fall. Many farmers are reluctant to grow short-season varieties of silage corn (90 day maturity or less) due to concerns regarding lower yields and poor feed quality. In order to accelerate the adoption of growing short-season silage corn along with cover crops, this CIG opportunity would provide for a ?financial guarantee? against the risk of crop losses associated with the transition to this new cropping system. The farms must be willing to plant, for 3 years, a minimum 20 acres of short-season corn silage to be harvested prior to October 1 and with cover crop planted no later than October 1. Participating farmers would plant one field (or a portion of a field equaling at least 20 acres) to the short-season corn variety and cover crop. A similar field in close proximity (similar soil types, slopes and drainage) would be planted to the farmer's desired long-season corn variety. Yield measurements and feed analysis from the two fields would determine disparity in total crop/feed value from the two fields. The participant would be reimbursed financially for any resulting loss in total feed value from the short-season corn field. This compensation could be reduced to a partial payment if available funds for the project become limited. Final products will include: ? On-farm demonstrations of short-season corn with cover crops on a Vermont farm, where farmers can receive updated information regarding the trials and the outcomes, ? A report providing analysis of all farm fields enrolled (short-season and long-season maturity fields) and providing comparison data, per year, of final yield and feed values, as well as the cover crop establishment success on the short-season corn fields. The report will provide general conclusions regarding the applicability of growing short-season corn and harvest prior to October 1 in Vermont, ? Fact sheets which provide evaluation of the practicality of following this planting regime. ? Update of the P Index for Vermont: In Vermont, nutrient management plans require using the Phosphorus Index as a phosphorus risk asse

General Information

Funding Opportunity NumberUSDA-NRCS-VT-14-0001
Funding Opportunity TitleState Conservation Innovation Grant 2014
Opportunity CategoryNatural Resources
Funding Instrument TypeCooperative Agreement
Category ExplanationNot Available
Number of Awards10
Cost Sharing or Matching RequirementYes
Posted DateApril 10, 2014 (Thursday)
Application Due DateMay 9, 2014 (Friday)
Application Archive DateJune 8, 2014 (Sunday)
Total Program Funding$ 212,000
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)
  • Public housing authorities/Indian housing authorities
  • Nonprofits having a 501 (c) (3) status with the IRS, other than institutions of higher education
  • Private 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 url

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