The Piscataqua Region Estuaries Partnership (PREP) is offering matching grants of up to $5,000 per project to assist with transaction costs for permanent land protection projects (conservation easements, full fee acquisitions, donations) within the Piscataqua Region coastal watershed area (coastal New Hampshire and part of southern Maine). Grants can be awarded to either qualified nonprofit tax-exempt 501(c)(3) conservation organizations or units of government. Currently, a total of $30,000 is available for the 2013 grant round, with a limit of one application per eligible organization.
PROJECT ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA
1. Proposed land protection projects must be within the boundary of the Piscataqua Region coastal watershed (see map and list below). Towns with asterisks (*) are partially within the watershed, and should check with PREP staff to determine if a proposed project is within the Piscataqua Region watershed boundary. SEE MAP.
2. Reimbursable transaction expenses must be incurred between 1/1/12-12/31/13 to be eligible for this grant. Project expenses claimed as match do not have a time limitation.
3. Real estate transaction projects completed prior to 10/1/2012 are not eligible for this funding round. “Completed” refers to the closing date of the land transaction. Projects that might not close during the 2013 calendar year are eligible for funding, but must provide a copy of a fully signed Purchase and Sale Agreement with the landowner with only due diligence contingencies remaining prior to the release of PREP grant funds.
Parcels proposed for protection must meet at least one of the following criteria:
- Be located (at least in part) in one of the Conservation Focus Areas identified in the Land Conservation Plan for New Hampshire’s Coastal Watershed or The Land Conservation Plan for Maine’s Piscataqua Region Watersheds.
- Include shoreline on streams of any size, tidal waters, or lakes.
- Include wetlands designated as “Prime Wetlands” or the equivalent local designation or have greater than 50% acreage consisting of largely undisturbed wetlands.
- Include “exemplary natural communities” or provide documented habitat for plants or animals listed as rare, threatened, or endangered by the states of NH and ME.
Important Note: While most projects that meet one or more of the eligibility criteria are eligible for funding, certain situations are generally not a good fit with the intent of the grant program. For example, easement agreements associated with permit requirements, projects involved in legal disputes, parcels with substantial contamination, or easements with dam maintenance provisions are examples of projects that do not qualify for this program.
Grant funds can be used to reimburse transaction expenses of permanent land protection projects that have been completed since 10/1/12, or that are making substantial progress in moving to fruition in 2013 (e.g. there is a signed purchase and sale agreement in place between the landowner and the conservation buyer). Transaction costs eligible for reimbursement include (but may not be limited to): land surveys, attorney fees, land protection staff time, consultant fees, the conservation group’s appraisal costs, recording fees, title expenses, and stewardship costs.
GRANT AWARD PROCESS
The application form attached to this RFP provides instructions on proposal requirements.
Deadline: Proposals must be emailed to PREP or postmarked by 5 PM June 7, 2013.
Only one application may be submitted per project and per eligible funding organization. Applications may be submitted before or after transaction costs are incurred. Award decisions will be competitive in nature. Projects that meet more than one eligibility criteria, protect larger parcels of land, or provide higher ratios of non-federal match will rank most competitively. Only complete applications will be considered. Award decisions will be determined by PREP and announced to applicants by July 5, 2013. Organizations selected for grant assistance will receive an award letter from PREP – a formal grant agreement or contract will not be issued.
All expenditures to be reimbursed by PREP, or to be claimed as match for PREP funds, must be documented before PREP funds are released. Eligible transaction costs must be completed, and all required invoicing documentation submitted to PREP, by March 1, 2014. Please Note: For pending conservation easements, bargain sales, and full fee acquisitions, a signed copy of the purchase and sale agreement pertaining to the conservation parcel will be required prior to the release of PREP funds. For donated conservation properties or completed easement projects, the book and page number in the registry of deeds (documenting interest ownership in the parcel by the conservation organization or town) will need to be provided to PREP prior to the release of grant funds.
Grantees should submit one invoice per project, using the PREP invoice template that will be provided with the grant award letter. Reimbursement of approved expenses will be issued to grantees as a one time lump sum. Invoices must include documentation of reimbursable costs and matching costs. The invoice must include documentation (e.g., expense receipts, log of personnel/volunteer hours, etc.) of the 1:1 non-federal fund match for the project. Invoices will not be paid without this documentation. Grantees must retain on file receipts, timesheets, etc. that support reimbursable expenses in case of an audit, or if questioned by the University of New Hampshire or PREP.
PREP has a minimum of a one-to-one (1:1) match requirement for program funds. This means that for every dollar contributed to a project by PREP, an equivalent value of at least one dollar of non-federal match must be contributed to the project by other entities. Applicants are strongly encouraged to provide 3:1 match of non-federal funds to PREP funds. Projects providing this level of match commitment will receive priority funding status. Grantee’s match contribution can be cash or “in-kind” services directly related to the project. Match can come from transaction costs or costs associated with the purchase of the land or conservation easement.
In-kind services can be paid staff time or volunteer time, which is directly related to implementation of the project. Volunteer hours can be valued at $21.36 per hour, or the current rate posted HERE . Higher in-kind rates can be claimed if a person volunteered services in their professional capacity. In this case, the volunteer rate is the person’s “billable” rate for the service. Employee time sheets do not need to be submitted to PREP, but should be kept on file by the organization submitting the invoice. For volunteer time counted as match, documentation should be provided, including volunteer name, date, time spent on the project and a verifying signature of the volunteer. All cash, supplies, and in-kind services counted as match must be from non-federal sources. A person’s time cannot be counted as match if he or she is paid by federal funds. State programs that are funded with federal funds (for example, EPA or NOAA program funds) cannot be used to match PREP funds. State, local, and private funds used as match for other federal funds cannot be counted twice as match.