What Applicants Need to Know
DEC, through the Landowner Incentive Program (LIP), has received approximately $150,000 from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) for the protection of bog turtles and the management of their habitats on private lands within the Bog Turtle Focus Area. Should additional funding be made available to DEC for the management and protection of bog turtle habitat, such funding may be used to fund additional grant applications solicited under this Request for Applications.
There are three stages to the application process:
Stage 1 - Pre-application: Interested applicants must fill out and submit a pre-application by July 1, 2010. Applications received by the deadline will be reviewed and scored using quantitative scoring criteria. Applicants whose pre-application scores 25 points or higher will be invited to submit a full project application. All applications scoring below 25 points in the pre-application stage will be returned to the applicant.
Stage 2 - Full application: Applicants that received a quantitative score of 25 points or higher will be contacted by DEC staff via U.S. mail and invited to submit a full project application. The deadline for submitting a full application will be provided in the notification. Full applications will be reviewed and scored using qualitative scoring criteria.
Stage 3 - Project Prioritization & Selection: Both the quantitative scoring (Stage 1) and qualitative evaluation (Stage 2) scores for all eligible applications will be combined and classified into priority levels, in accordance with this request for applications.
Technical assistance for developing a project (after the pre-application stage) is available through DEC by calling 518-402-8898 or e-mail the Landowner Incentive Program. All applicants should carefully read the USFWS Biological Opinion (see the Offsite Link in the column to the right) before applying for a grant.
How Do I Know if I Have Bog Turtles on My Land?
The DEC and its conservation partners have intensively searched for and recorded the occurrence, condition, and habitat requirements of bog turtles in the focus area over the past four decades. Records of the turtle range from the 1800s to the present and are maintained in a geographical information system (GIS) database. To determine if bog turtles have been found in or near your property, our staff will query this GIS database. In addition, the Natural Heritage Program has developed a predictive model for occurrences. Staff will check this model to determine site suitability for the species.
The DEC is aware of the majority of bog turtle occurrences; however, it is possible that there may be bog turtle sites we are not aware of. Bog turtles are small, rare, and hard to find. This Request for Application provides you with pictures and a description of bog turtles. Have you seen turtles that fit this description on or near your property? If you think so, submit a pre-application and indicate on the required map where and when you believe you may have seen them. The DEC will then contact you to verify the sighting and determine if the habitat is suitable. If it appears to be a probable occurrence, the DEC may request to conduct a site visit to verify the occurrence.
Is There a Minimum and Maximum Grant Award Amount and Are Matching Funds Required?
Grant award amounts will be limited to a minimum amount of $5,000 and a maximum of $50,000. The cost effectiveness of a project will directly impact an applications rank and score.
All grants require a minimum of 25% in matching funds from non-federal and/or non-state funding sources. All applicants are required to certify matching funds from non-federal and/or non-state sources in their full application submission. A pending grant application from a non-federal funding source cannot be considered as certified match until such grant application is officially awarded by the Grantor to the applicant.
State Assistance payments are taxable unless you are a tax-exempt organization. The State Department of Taxation and Finance will send you a 1099 form for moneys you receive from this grant Program. Applicants should consult their tax advisor or accountant to determine their individual tax liability.
What Project Costs are Eligible for Reimbursement?
The following are examples of eligible project-related costs for LIP bog turtle grants:
- Costs for staff time directly devoted to the project, including fringe benefits at a rate not to exceed 15% of salary. (See "Salary", below, under "Personnel Services" for restrictions.)
- Costs for supply and material purchases directly linked to and necessary to execute the project.
- Costs for rental of equipment (purchase not eligible).
- Costs for subcontract of services (services must be reasonable and necessary and must include a cost analysis).
Grant reimbursement payments will be based on actual expenditures incurred by the grantee. Grantees will be required to provide documentation of project-related costs, including submission of copies of invoices and cancelled checks, with each payment request. Grantees will be required to show proof of and certify appropriate matching expenses from non-federal and non-state funding sources. Project budget proposals should include allowable expenses, including matching costs related to the implementation of this project.
The project budget proposal must be itemized using the format provided in the Sample Budget chart included in this RFA, and should include eligible funding categories, as follows:
- Salary: Salary and title of project staff employed or hired by the applicant organization. No more than 25% of the total project budget may go to pay the salary (and fringe if applicable) of a single individual in the Paid Staff budget category.
- Fringe Benefits: Salary x Fringe Rate. The fringe benefits such as health care and retirement provided to permanent employees of the applicant organization. Fringe benefits are normally calculated as a percentage of an employee's salary. The maximum allowable fringe rate under this program is 15%.
- Travel and Equipment Usage: Vehicle mileage at the federal rate, fuel costs, and other similar expenses. Equipment usage is valued at the cost equivalent per day for renting equipment such as tractors, brush clearing equipment, etc.
- Equipment Rental: Rental of equipment is eligible for reimbursement. Purchase of equipment is NOT eligible.
- Equipment: is defined by federal grant rules as "...tangible, non-expendable, personal property having a useful life of more than one year and an acquisition cost of $5,000 or more per unit."
- Supplies and Materials: Office supplies, consumable field gear or materials such as flagging tape and stakes, herbicides, etc.
- Contractual Services: If you subcontract out for services such as invasive species control, you must be able to provide proof as to the reasonableness of such costs. No more than 25% of the total project budget may go to the Contractual Services budget category.
Use of In-kind services as match: If in-kind (volunteer time, equipment usage) or other non-State and non-Federal contributions will be used as match you must include:
- A description of what the in-kind services are going to be.
- In-kind services must be "necessary and reasonable" for the accomplishment of project objectives. The Project narrative needs to identify how and why the in-kind services are "necessary and reasonable" for the accomplishment of project objectives.
- Provide an estimate of in-kind services and explain how the estimated in-kind costs are calculated (e.g., "the rate used to calculate the time spent by landowners on habitat management activities is equal to the state rate for similar work", etc.).
- Prior to the implementation of the project, and for reporting purposes after the project is complete, applicants need to explain how in-kind services will be accounted for (e.g., volunteer time cards, database).
- In-kind is not state or federal staff time or resources. Applicants are urged to review the federal guidance on in-kind services [43 CFR 12.64(7)] and the documentation requirements therein (see Offsite Link in the right-hand column).
What Costs are Not Eligible for Reimbursement?
Ineligible costs include:
- Costs of preparing a grant application.
- Costs incurred prior to the award of a grant.
- Overhead or indirect personal service related costs.
- Grant Administrative costs.
- Any other costs not directly necessary to implement the project.
- Costs related to land acquisition, purchase of development rights or easements are NOT eligible for reimbursement.
- Any cost or type of cost that is ineligible for reimbursement cannot be claimed as match under this program.
Project Eligibility Criteria
The following eligibility criteria apply to all applicants:
- Land must be privately owned. Applicants must submit original letters of permission from involved landowners at the time of pre-application. If the applicant is invited to submit a full application, the landowner will need to provide proof of ownership in the form of a deed as part of the Stage 2 - Full application.
- Property must be located within the bog turtle focus area identified in this Request for Applications. Properties that have appropriate habitat and are contiguous but just outside of the focus area will generally be considered eligible. The focus area includes all or portions of the following counties: Columbia, Dutchess, Greene, Orange, Putnam, Sullivan and Ulster.
- Acres of land already enrolled in similar incentives (e.g. USDA Farm Bill programs such as the Wetland Reserve Program) are not eligible for reimbursement under this Program. However, landowners may be enrolled in more than one program as long as different parcels are committed to each.
- Upon submission of a pre-application, landowners must allow DEC staff or their representatives to enter the eligible property at reasonable hours and with prior notification for the purposes of obtaining information pursuant to scoring criteria (Stage 1).
- Businesses and NFPs must include in their application their Federal Employer ID number. Businesses and NFPs must also submit a resolution (see "Appendix C: Sample Resolution" in the Request for Applications) identifying the person authorized on behalf of the organization to submit an application and sign legal documents. This person will receive official notification from DEC about decisions regarding their application.
- Applicants that receive grant funding will be required to sign a State Assistance Contract with DEC that will carry a three-year term. Projects must be started within ONE year of receiving notification of a grant award from DEC. Projects not started within this one-year time period will risk having their grant funding withdrawn. The applicant must perform all DEC approved project related activities as identified in the State Assistance Contract project work plan. The Contract will include a DEC approved management plan, job narrative, budget and payment schedule; and Appendix A - standard State Clauses and Appendix B - DEC Clauses.
- The applicant will also be required to sign a Memorandum of Agreement with DEC that will be filed at a corresponding county clerk's office to indicate the property is enrolled in the New York State Landowner Incentive Program.
How Will State Assistance Funding be Provided?
The Landowner Incentive Program for Bog Turtle Protection and Management is a reimbursement grant program. Applicants must be prepared to fully fund their projects in the first instance and then submit payment requests along with copies of supporting documentation of costs in a manner acceptable to DEC.
Grantees will also be required to submit project performance reports on a bi-annually basis. Advance contract payments will NOT be provided. DEC will retain 10% from each payment request until all contract deliverables have been met and approved by DEC. Upon DEC's approval of such contract deliverables, the final 10% retainage will be released to the grantee.
Payments for expenditures incurred under this contract will be rendered electronically to the Recipient. Such electronic payment shall be made in accordance with ordinary State procedures and practices. The Recipient shall comply with the New York State Office of the State Comptroller's procedures to authorize electronic payments. Authorization forms are available at the Comptroller's website (see Offsite Link in the right-hand column) or by calling (518) 474-4032. The Recipient acknowledges that it will not receive payment under this Contract if it does not comply with the Comptroller's electronic payment procedures.
Federal & State Regulatory Compliance
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Biological Opinion
All applications must be consistent with and closely follow the recommendations of the USFWS Biological Opinion on Bog Turtle Restoration Practices, Amendment 1, and all future amendments released by the USFWS to be considered eligible.
In 2006, the USFWS released the "Appendable Biological Opinion on Bog Turtle Restoration Practices" and shortly thereafter, the First Amendment to this Biological Opinion. The Biological Opinion addresses in detail the techniques commonly used to manage bog turtle habitat, which include application of herbicides, cutting and removal of woody vegetation, prescribed fire, release of beetles to control purple loosestrife, and installation of fencing to facilitate grazing. The First Amendment to the Biological Opinion specifically addresses the use of goats and sheep for restoration grazing of degraded habitat. Some of the management techniques covered by both documents can result in the accidental injury or death of turtles (a "take"). The Biological Opinion and its Amendment describe in detail how these techniques must be implemented in order to minimize the chance of a take.
The Biological Opinion can be found on the web (see Offsite Link in the right-hand column) or by request from DEC. DEC will notify applicants by mail if new amendments are released. DEC will disqualify any applications not deemed consistent with the Biological Opinion and amendments.
Environmental Permitting Requirements
Since this is a federally-funded program, all expenditures, match, and activities that may affect listed species are subject to federal and state rules. All funds awarded through this Request For Applications are contingent upon the applicant meeting all federal and state permitting requirements.
The USFWS Biological Opinion on bog turtle management will serve as the key guidance for applicants on habitat restoration and management techniques. It is available for download on the web (see the Offsite Link in the right-hand column) at or by request from DEC. DEC reserves the right to reallocate or withdraw grant funding in the event that the project applicant cannot meet the federal or state grant and/or permitting requirements. Applicants are encouraged to contact the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Endangered Species office in Cortland, NY for technical assistance on projects that may affect state or federally listed species, including bog turtles.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Field Office in Cortland:
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
3817 Luker Road
Cortland, NY 13045
The DEC reserves the right to make minor revisions to an applicants scope of work or budget to comply with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service review of eligible costs and matching funds. Such revisions will not result in any increase in the State award amount. However, State award amounts may be decreased as a result of disqualification of matching costs through the federal review process.
Applicants should be aware of the following potential federal or state permitting issues:
- The scope and size of land disturbance of a management or restoration project is greater than 10 acres.
- The capture, handling, or take of protected fish and wildlife, especially state or federally-listed threatened or endangered species.
- Lethal control of invasive or predatory animal species.
- Application of pesticides, herbicides, or chemical tracers.
- Discharge of waste or water.
- Use and release of non-native species in the control of vegetation or pests (biocontrols, for example, Galerucella spp. beetles to control purple loosestrife).
- Stocking or transfer of animals.
- Alterations to regulated State or federal wetlands and identified significant habitats.
- Contaminated sites or sites that involve dredging or dredged material.
- Sites that are listed or eligible for listing on the State and National Registers of Historic Places
This list is NOT meant to be comprehensive, and it is the applicant's responsibility to investigate any permits that may be required to carry out their project proposal.
For Dutchess, Ulster, Orange, Putnam, or Sullivan counties, contact:
NYSDEC - Region 3 Division of Environmental Permits
21 South Putt Corners Rd.
New Paltz, NY 12561-1620
For Columbia or Greene County, contact:
NYSDEC - Region 4 Division of Environmental Permits
1130 North Westcott Rd.
Schenectady, NY 12306-2014
Handling, scientific collection, exhibition, or marking of wildlife require a valid special license from the NYSDEC Special Licenses Unit. Relevant regulated species and activities include:
- Endangered or threatened species listed by New York (6 NYCRR Part 182) or by the Federal government (50 CFR Section 17)
- Most indigenous or native animals (call the Special Licenses Unit for species)
- Migratory birds listed by the Federal government (50 CFR Section 10.13)
- Release of insects to control invasive plants
- Liberation of wildlife, including bio-controls, to the wild
If you are planning to conduct any of these activities, contact the Special Licenses Unit:
Special Licenses Unit
Albany, NY 12233-4752
Affirmative Action Requirements
Should you receive a grant, the State Assistance Contract will require you to make good faith efforts to comply with State Minority & Woman-Owned Business Enterprise (M/WBE) and Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) requirements (see Offsite Link in the right-hand column for the State M/WBE & EEO database).