State Wildlife Grants

Request for Proposals
Submittal Guidelines
December 2022

Project Scope

The Wildlife Diversity Program of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) is requesting proposals from organizations and agencies interested in partnering with the TPWD to implement high-priority portions of the Texas Conservation Action Plan (TCAP). TPWD will make funding available to support cooperative, cost-share projects that will further the conservation of wildlife species designated as “Species of Greatest Conservation Need” in the TCAP. The origin of this funding is the State Wildlife Grants (SWG) program, which is a federal assistance program for state wildlife conservation agencies. The purpose of the SWG program is to support proactive conservation efforts for animal species that are rare or declining and considered to be at risk of endangerment. Due to restrictions in the program’s authorizing language, proposals for law enforcement, education, recreation, and plant conservation activities are not eligible for SWG funding unless otherwise stated in a Request for Proposals (RFP) topic.

Background

The SWG program is a federal cost-share program that supports proactive conservation and management activities that benefit rare and declining wildlife species - those that are in the greatest need of additional conservation attention. As the statutory fish and wildlife management agency for Texas, the TPWD is our state's approved recipient for these funds. TPWD is responsible for requesting and administering SWG to support the implementation of the Texas Conservation Action Plan (TCAP). State Wildlife Grants are distributed specifically for the protection and management of Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN) identified in the TCAP.

Our desire is to fund well-designed projects that provide conservation benefits for one or more species of greatest conservation need and that address one or more of the conservation issues outlined in the TCAP. The TCAP is a strategic conservation plan that was developed by TPWD that identifies the species of greatest conservation need, the habitats with which they are associated, and the factors that most substantially affect their populations. Beneficial conservation actions include habitat restoration or enhancement activities, and field studies that seek to fill information gaps that will enable Texas to develop more effective conservation programs for rare and declining species. The TCAP is the guiding document for how SWG funding may be spent in Texas and applicants should review the relevant sections of this strategic plan before preparing their proposal — download the Texas Conservation Action Plan.

Statement of Work

This solicitation calls for proposals that will implement specific conservation actions that are recommended within the TCAP to prevent the need to list, promote recovery, and enable conservation of SGCN. TPWD has identified the following areas as the highest priority needs at the current time and proposals that pertain to at least one of the following topics will rank highest for funding. Prior to submittal, investigators must contact the taxa-specific Nongame and Rare Species Program biologist to discuss and refine potential proposals.

  1. Range wide surveys in Texas and Mexico, and/or movement and habitat use in Cienega Creek, Big Bend Ranch State Park, of the Big Bend Mud turtle

     

    We are seeking proposals for research projects that provide information to help access the status and inform the conservation strategy for the Big Bend Mud Turtle (Kinosternon [hirtipes] murrayi). The research should include as many of the following components as practical within the budget; 1) a thorough field sampling design in Texas and Mexico to identify currently unknown populations, 2) demographic information (population size, sex ratios, survivorship rates, recruitment, etc.) at multiple sites across a threat gradient, and/or 3) data on activity, movement, and habitat selection of individuals from populations that occur in lotic freshwater systems. Federal budget max $100,000.

  2. Conservation Status Assessments of Priority Insect SGCN Groups

     

    Texas Parks and Wildlife is seeking proposals to gather information on the diversity, distribution, and conservation status of priority groups of Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN). Using the literature, examination of specimens and specimen based digitized records, TPWD is seeking information on at least one of the following groups in the state of Texas, including species currently recognized as SGCN’s.

    • Short-horned Grasshoppers (Acrididae, 4 species of SGCN and related state and/or regional endemics)
    • Scarabaeidae (7 species of SGCN and related state and/or regional endemics)
    • Cicindelinae (7 species of SGCN and related species known to occur in Texas)
    • Elateriformia (8 species of SGCN and related state and/or regional endemics)
    • Native Bees (Approximately 900 native species not currently assessed)

    Proposals should clearly address how the following objectives will be accomplished for identified groups: 1) a summary of the distribution of examined species and associated data, 2) species assessment utilizing the NatureServe or IUCN conservation status assessment methodology, 3) other proposed methods to delineate species or species ranges such as field surveys or genetic analyses. Proposals should also clearly outline the number of species (SGCN and non-SGCN) proposed to be assessed, the qualifications of the PI to assess the proposed species and/or groups and their familiarity with NatureServe or IUCN conservation status assessments. Federal budget max $200,000.

  3. Digitization Support of Texas Invertebrate Collections

     

    Texas Parks and Wildlife is seeking proposals for the digitization of Texas invertebrate collection materials to be incorporated into the conservation status assessment of Texas Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN). Collections should be located in Texas or have large holdings of Texas SGCN materials and related conservation priority groups. A current list of SGCN’s can be found on tpwd.texas.gov/landwater/land/tcap/sgcn.phtml.

    Proposals should clearly outline 1) the number of SGCN species estimated or known to be represented in material proposed to be digitized, 2) estimated number of specimens to be digitized and their current condition and curation method, 3) clear and established track records of work flow and high data quality. Proposals should also identify the data repository for digitized material and the anticipated data fields that will be available when digitization and georeferencing is completed. If additional material is proposed to be determined utilizing this funding, PI’s should outline their qualifications to accurately identify and determine priority groups of SGCN’s. Federal budget max $70,000, 2 years (up to 2 projects funded) duration.

Specifications

Eligibility of Prospective Applicants

TPWD will only issue contracts to the following entities:

  1. Institutions of Higher Education, such as colleges or universities (private or public; see "Higher Education Coordinating Act of 1965" Sec. 61.003).
  2. Non-profit organizations [501c(3)].
  3. Federal (except Dept Interior), State, Local (County, City) offices, (see "Professional Services Procurement Act" Sec. 2254.002).

TPWD will no longer issue contracts directly to consultants or consulting agencies (see State of Texas "Professional Services Procurement Act" Sec. 2254.021).

It is imperative that the applicant agency/institution possess thorough knowledge of State of Texas purchasing rules and Federal regulations (e.g., 2 CFR 200), and have the administrative expertise and infrastructure to be able to manage federally-funded state contracts.

Connection to the TCAP

All proposals must be consistent with the purpose of the SWG program in that they must contribute to the conservation of SGCN and proposals that address one of the topics listed above in the Statement of Work section will receive priority for funding. Additionally, all proposals must cite at least one page, species, or section of the TCAP to demonstrate their connection to this planning document. The most current version of this strategic conservation plan is attached with this announcement — download the Texas Conservation Action Plan.

Matching Requirements and Funding Limitations

The funding awarded through this Request for Proposals originates from the SWG program, which is described above in the Background section of this RFP. SWG is a cost-share program that requires a non-federal match to the funding that is awarded. The current cost-ratio for SWG is 65:35 meaning that all grants require non-federal matching funds that are equal to 35% of the grant’s total cost. Funds will be made available to the grantee on a reimbursement basis.

All funding recipients under this Request for Proposals will be required to provide the non-federal matching funds for their grant (35% of the grant’s total cost). Sources of matching funds can include, but are not limited to, cash match of state or private dollars, in-kind services, the contribution of a portion of the recipient’s indirect costs, or the contribution of a portion of the salary of the Principal Investigator(s) (PI). No federal funds, including funds from other federal grant programs, can be used as matching funds for the SWG program.

Because the funding pool is relatively limited, the time frame for each proposal may not exceed four years.

Proposal Format and Proposal Preparation Guidance

All proposals submitted in response to this RFP must be written in the format described in Appendices I and II. Proposals should contain a thorough description of the activities to be performed and the data that will be collected and provided with the project’s Interim Performance Reports and Final Report. Prior to submittal, we suggest that investigators contact the taxa-specific Nongame and Rare Species Program biologist to discuss and refine potential proposals.

Proposals must be submitted in electronic format (e.g., Word), and budgets must be submitted on the provided Excel template. Complete proposals, not including the itemized budget, are limited in length to ten single-spaced, 8-1/2 x 11-inch pages, using 11-point font or greater with one-inch margins. Proposals exceeding this length will not be considered. The project title in the separate Excel budget form should match exactly the narrative (text) title for the project. The proposal may include up to six additional pages for needed attachments and/or appendices that may present data tables, graphs or maps that support the proposal’s narrative section. Additionally, the proposal must be accompanied by a brief biographic summary for each Principal Investigator (PI) working on the project. The biographic summary should be a brief description (not more than one page) of each applicant’s experience and knowledge as it relates to the activities included in the proposal and is not expected to be a complete resume. (The biographic information does not count against the ten-page proposal maximum size limit.) Total electronic file size for all materials submitted should not exceed 25 MB. We will send an email within 2 business days confirming receipt of your application. Application materials will not be returned following evaluations and awards.

Compliance with Federal and State Law

Congress funds the SWG program through the annual appropriations process as a line-item addition (i.e., SWG is not included in the programmatic budget of any federal agency). Because the SWG program’s funds are federal dollars, all activities funded through the program must be in compliance with all federal laws.

Successful grant recipients will be considered sub-recipients of TPWD and will be required to comply with applicable federal and state laws and regulations including the provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act and the Endangered Species Act. If handling endangered species, the PI will be required to provide his or her federal scientific collecting permit number or indicate if the PI will obtain a federal scientific collecting permit before contract approval. Additionally, the grant recipient is required to obtain a state scientific collector's permit if any non-threatened or endangered species will be captured, held in possession temporarily, or collected as part of the project.

Projects that involve construction or soil-disturbing activities must be prepared to address their potential effect on archaeological and cultural resources as well as historic preservation. Projects that involve the capture or collection of any vertebrate species may require Animal Welfare compliance (e.g., Laboratory Animal Welfare Act of 1966 and Health Research Extension Act of 1985).

As a condition of accepting federal funds through the SWG program, grant recipients must agree to adhere to all Federal Assistance compliance requirements including a thorough written assessment of the project’s Environmental Compliance in Section P of the proposal (see Appendix I for details) and the timely submission of financial and project performance reports. The recipient’s organization must have a system to track and document all expenses claimed toward the grant.

Any work to be performed on private lands in Texas using these funds requires, as a matter of state statute (TPW 12.103) and TPWD policy grantees to secure written permission from the private landowner(s) for the purposes of (1) access to the land, and (2) use of data collected on that land. If your project will include reporting results from specifically identified private lands, written permission from applicable private landowners will be required to be provided to TPWD before the contract can be approved. Complete and attach form PWD 0153a Landowner Permission for Wildlife Research including landowner(s) signature and date to this application packet to verify that they have read, understood, and agreed to your proposal, will grant access to their land to specified individuals, and will grant permission to use data obtained from the project for scientific and/or environmental consultation purposes (e.g., reports, maps, databases). Or, if the project has not specifically identified private lands at the time of proposal submission, a form PWD 0153a Landowner Permission for Wildlife Research must be provided later before contract approval. If such action becomes necessary after the contract has been signed, then documentation, as specified above, will be required before work can begin on identified private lands study sites. Copies of all completed and signed PWD 0153a Landowner Permission for Wildlife Research forms must be provided to the contract manager no later than the deadline specified in the contract for the final report.

Performance Reporting Requirements

All successful applicants will be required to provide annual reports of their project’s activities to satisfy federal project monitoring requirements.

An Interim Report will be due to TPWD within 30 days of the annual reporting period end date of the grant as listed in the contract. A Final Report will be due to TPWD within 30 days of the completion of the grant. Interim and Final reports are critically important and must be submitted on time to process grant invoices. Invoice payments may be delayed because of untimely or deficient report submissions and invoices may be returned. Each Interim Report and the Final Report must be provided in Microsoft Word format using the template provided by the TPWD Project Coordinator; reports submitted in any other format will be rejected. PIs are encouraged to submit digital images/photos with their reports that depict various aspects of their project including procedures employed in the field, their study site, and the species involved in the project. Performance reports must contain a comparison of the actual accomplishments during that grant segment with the objectives of the grant as written in the proposal/scope of work. If applicable, an explanation must be provided describing why the objectives were not met and any other pertinent information relevant to the project results.

Duration of Grants

Proposals will be considered for projects that cover one, two, three or four-year periods. A fifth year may be added to restoration projects for monitoring purposes (see part 8 below for details). Grants must start at the beginning of a quarter and for this RFP, we will accept proposals that have a starting date of either November 1, 2022, or January 1, 2023.

Budget Preparation

The necessary funding for the entire project should be included in the proposal. The budget should be prepared as a series of state fiscal year budgets (Sept 1 – Aug 31) for each year or partial year of the project. The budget also should identify the source(s) of the non-federal matching funds that will be provided by the grant recipient. The budget shall be prepared by the institution’s fiscal, budget, or grant staff, and signed by this individual. Once the contract is developed between TPWD and the grant recipient’s institution, TPWD will reimburse the grant recipient for up to 65.00% of its approved invoiced costs. Please submit both an Excel version and a signed PDF version of the budget completed using the provided Excel template; the budget/budget narrative should not be included in the text body of your proposal.

A detailed, itemized budget should be prepared using the budget template provided that describes how the project’s funding will be used/allocated. The budget should be prepared as a series of annual budgets that follow the state fiscal year (e.g., Sept 1 through Aug 31). Funds not spent in a fiscal year may roll to the following year within the contract grant period. Any request to roll funds will require a budget amendment.

The budget also should identify the source(s) of the 35% non-federal matching funds that will be provided by the grant recipient. Please note that for multi-year proposals, the budget for the total project must have at least 35% non-federal match.

The itemized budget must include estimated costs (rounded to the nearest whole dollar) for salary and wages, fringe benefits, travel costs (tips or gratuities and purchase of alcohol are not reimbursable expenses), supplies, miscellaneous, and indirect costs. Also include contractual services if applicable to the project. Modified Total Direct cost (MTDC) must be calculated on the provided budget template, to which indirect costs should be applied. MTDC excludes equipment, capital expenditures, charges for patient care, rental costs, tuition remission (stipend), scholarships and fellowships, participant support costs, and the portion of each sub-award and subcontract in excess of $25,000. Please note that if you intend to subcontract/sub-award work that exceeds $25,000 in total, only the first $25,000 of that subcontract/sub-award amount may be included in the MTDC for the overall project budget. Therefore, only up to $25,000 for a subcontract/sub-award can be included when calculating MTDC over the entire life of the project. An example budget table and an example budget narrative are provided in Appendix II.

Effectiveness Monitoring

Those proposals that involve some form of habitat restoration or enhancement must include a monitoring component. To accommodate effectiveness monitoring, these project proposals may add one additional year to their duration for a maximum duration of five years. Monitoring measures should be relevant to the conservation of specific species or habitats and may include vegetation condition or animal population response.

Pre-Award Meeting

Successful grant applicants and their relevant fiscal staff shall participate in a pre-award meeting with relevant TPWD program, Texas Natural Diversity Database staff and Federal Assistance staff to discuss reporting requirements, data formatting and submission, as well as financial aspects of the grant process.

Proposal Submission Deadline and Contact

The deadline for the submission of proposals is the close of business (4:30 p.m.) on March 14, 2022.

Applicants must submit an electronic copy (Microsoft Word/Excel files) of their proposal in the format described in the attachment to TPWD by this deadline. Email proposals to chelsea.acres@tpwd.texas.gov.

Proposals that are received after this date and time will not be considered for selection.

Questions regarding the content of this RFP may be directed to the appropriate taxa-specific Nongame and Rare Species Program biologist or to Chelsea Acres, Rare and Listed Species Grant Coordinator, at Email proposals to chelsea.acres@tpwd.texas.gov or (512) 389-4933.

Approximate Timeline:

  • December 2022: Request for Proposals issued.
  • March 14, 2022: Proposals due to TPWD. Copies will be made of all proposals, and these will be distributed to the internal SWG review committee.
  • Mid-April 2022: SWG Review Committee meets to assess and rank proposals. Successful grant applicants will be notified, and a TPWD biologist will be assigned to the project. The TPWD lead biologist, or Project Coordinator, will work with TPWD's Federal Aid office to guide the proposal through the process of becoming a federal grant (i.e. creation of the grant's project statement using the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's online system, creation of required environmental compliance documentations, etc.).
  • Mid-May 2022: Deadline to alert applicants of funding decisions
  • Early June 2022: Final proposals and budgets submitted to Rare and Listed Species Grant Coordinator. The project is subject to final approval by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Once the federal award is received, TPWD will enter into a contractual agreement with the sub-recipient and ultimately issue a purchase order to fund the project.

Other Considerations

At all times, grantees shall be considered cooperators or independent contractors and not agents or representatives of the TPWD.

Grantees shall be subject to potential audit by the Texas State Auditor’s Office and the U.S. Department of the Interior. Because of the origin of this funding, grantees will be considered to be sub-recipients of both TPWD and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

TPWD reserves the right to terminate a cooperative agreement for failure to perform obligations under the contract.

TPWD reserves the right not to select a proposal in each of these topic areas (see Statement of Work on pages 1 and 2) due to funding limitations, insufficient proposal quality, or any other factors deemed appropriate.

Appendix I: Project Narrative

Each proposal must follow this format and must include all sections below to be considered.

A. Proposal Title

Should be clear, concise, and 12 words or less.

B. Proposal Period (starting and ending dates of the proposed project)

In consideration of the time required for full processing by both TPWD and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, grants may have starting dates of either November 1, 2022, or January 1, 2023.

C. Principal Investigator(S) Name and Affiliation

Current contact information for the principal investigator (PI) and any co-investigator(s) (co-PIs): in priority order. Provide name, affiliation, work address, work telephone number, and email address. A TPWD Project Coordinator (PC) may be identified in this section. This person may serve as co-author on any publications resulting from this research, as long as mutual agreement and discretion is documented in writing. Provide documentation of PC's written approval to function as project coordinator and/or co-author as an attachment to this proposal. If no PC has been identified, write “No PC identified, please assign one” at the end of this section if you have not identified a PC for the project and TPWD will assign a PC for this project.

D. Description

Essentially an executive summary or abstract of the project; should not be more than a paragraph.

E. Need

Describe why the project is being proposed and provide an assessment of the need that will be met or the problem to be solved by the project. This section should contain the necessary background information, historical perspective, and other supporting information that will help the reader understand the importance of the project. It should cite appropriate references and must include at least one reference to pertinent sections of the Texas Conservation Action Plan as updated in 2012.

F. Purpose

State the purpose of the project based upon the need. This is a short and broad statement that states the desired outcome of the proposed project in general terms. This section is usually one or two sentences.

G. Objective(s)

This is comprised of one or a few short, concise statements that list the things that will be accomplished through the project to address the need(s) listed above. The Objective section is typically one to three sentences. The objectives of the grant should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time- and space-bounded. Please provide a rough deadline for each objective.

H. Expected Results or Benefits

This section should describe the anticipated or desired benefits or management implications of accomplishing the project objectives. It should explain the limits to which results are applicable over space and time. It should define what would constitute project success. In most cases, this includes the expected benefits to the public, species, and/or habitat. It should include a clear and complete description of the data that will be collected during the project and the data that will be provided in the Interim and Final Reports for the project. Anticipated publications may also be noted.

I. Approaches

This section describes the activities, methods, or procedures that will be used to accomplish the objective(s) of the project. The activities, methods and procedures should be described in a logical sequence of events and should describe the data that will be collected and provided in each Report. The level of detail should be commensurate with the nature and complexity of the project and the level of funding requested. Provide specific references to support the activities, methods or procedures proposed. Note: A detailed approach describes all field activities (e.g., habitat manipulation, ground disturbance, off-road vehicle use, etc.) and identifies the majority of information needed to document environmental compliance.

This section must also clearly describe the data analysis methods to be used. Identify any assumptions made; the sampling or experimental units; minimum sample size; and any controls, treatments, and replication. Include experimental design and statistics to be used. Approaches must specifically correspond to each objective.

J. Useful Life

Any grant that involves a capital improvement that has a cost or value of $10,000 or more must include a statement of the anticipated useful life of that capital improvement. If this section is not applicable, provide a statement such as “No capital improvements will be made using grant funds.”

A capital improvement, per 50 CFR 80.2, means:

K. Geographic Location

Identify as explicitly as possible the bounds of the study area including amount and number of public and private properties (e.g., Site or ranch name or street address if you have written landowner permission to disclose; county; region, municipality, or township; other description or information related to location). Include GPS Coordinates in degrees, minutes, and seconds, if available. If administrative/office activities are proposed, provide the address(s) where the work will occur. Provide a map of all field location(s) as an attachment. If ground disturbing activities will be conducted, provide a 7.5-minute USGS topographic map with the specific location of these activities, and include photos of the site. Please provide the congressional district and TPWD Wildlife Division administrative district and region.

L. Program Income

In one or two sentences, state whether the proposed project will generate any outside income because of the grant’s activities. In nearly all cases we expect that program income will not be generated. If this section is not applicable, make a statement indicating as such.

M. Equipment

Federal regulation (2 CFR 200.33) identifies equipment as tangible personal property (including information technology systems) having a useful life of more than one year and a per-unit acquisition cost which equals or exceeds the lesser of the capitalization level established by the non-Federal entity for financial statement purposes, or $5,000. Any equipment that is anticipated to be purchased using federal grant funds must be identified in this section for pre-approval of the expenditure, along with a projection of the equipment's useful life and a source supporting the useful life determination. Any item purchased using federal funds, which meets the federal definition of equipment, shall become the property of TPWD for tracking and auditing purposes. If the PI does not plan to purchase any equipment meeting the above definition, then a simple statement such as “No equipment will be purchased using grant funds.” may be written in this Section.

N. Relationship with Other Grants

Describe any relationship between this project and other work funded by Federal grants that is planned, anticipated, or underway. Please note that this is not a criterion upon which the proposal will be evaluated. Whether or not related work is being funded under other federal grant programs will not affect whether a proposal is selected for funding. This is simply an information item that federal agencies require when preparing grant awards.

O. Timeline

Provide a brief outline or approximate timeline for the activities that will be carried out under the grant. Where applicable, please include project milestones or significant dates/deadlines in the timeline.

Example:
January 1, 2023: Official project start date
January 2023 – April 2023: hire and enroll MS student to complete the project, purchase supplies
April – August 2023: perform fieldwork as per Approach
September – December 2023: analyze data, prepare Interim Report
October 30, 2023: Interim Performance Report due to TPWD
April – August 2024: perform fieldwork as per Approach
September – December 2024: data analysis and preparation of Interim and Final Reports
October 30, 2024: Interim Performance Report due to TPWD
December 31, 2024: Official project end date
January 31, 2025: Final Report due to TPWD

P. Environmental Compliance

If selected, PI will be required to provide compliance documents based on the proposed work. This will typically include an informal Section 7 to comply with the Endangered Species Act. Provide a statement if federally threatened or endangered species may be impacted by this project. For information regarding potential impacts on federally threatened and endangered species in your proposed project area, please refer to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Information, Planning and Conservation System (IPaC) for the most current range maps and other information. The link can be found at https://ecos.fws.gov/ipac/.

If there will be ground disturbing activities as part of the project, then the applicant must comply with Section 106 of the National Historical Preservation Act. Applicants should also provide statements that explain whether or not the proposed grant activities are likely to affect water quality or wetlands (Clean Water Act), air quality (Clean Air Act).

Q. Literature Cited

A list of the citations and relevant, recent literature used to develop the proposal.

R. Biographical Sketch

A brief biographical sketch must be prepared for each Principal Investigator and Co-Investigator. Each biographical sketch is limited to one page for each individual. The biographical sketch is not intended to be a full Curriculum Vitae or Resume; it only needs to provide an overview of his or her educational background, relevant experience, and relevant publications. It may also include any relevant professional affiliations and collaborating entities (e.g. museums, biological field stations, research labs). This information does not count against the ten-page proposal maximum size limit.

S. Overlap and Duplication Statements

As an applicant and prospective recipient for federal financial assistance funding through the Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund (CFDA 15.615), the Cooperator/Recipient is required to provide a statement certifying that proposed activities described herein do or do not overlap and/or duplicate any other possible proposal for federal financial assistance. Please provide a thorough explanation if potential for overlap or duplication exits.

T. Checklist

Please include the follow documents/information to ensure a complete RFP application package. These items will not count against the ten-page proposal maximum size limit.

Appendix II: Example Budget and Budget Justification