Notice of Solicitation for Estuary Habitat Restoration Program, 37547-37551 [06-5927]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 71, No. 126 / Friday, June 30, 2006 / Notices Dated: June 19, 2006. Richard P. Wagenaar, Colonel, U.S. Army, District Commander. [FR Doc. E6–10273 Filed 6–29–06; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3710–84–P DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE Department of the Army; Corps of Engineers Notice of Solicitation for Estuary Habitat Restoration Program Department of the Army, Army Corps of Engineers, DoD. ACTION: Notice of solicitation for project applications. AGENCY: SUMMARY: Congress has appropriated limited funds to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) to implement the Estuary Habitat Restoration Program as authorized in Section 104 of the Estuary Restoration Act of 2000, Title I of the Estuaries and Clean Waters Act of 2000 (Pub. L. 106–457) (accessible at http:// era.noaa.gov/pdfs/act_s835.pdf). On behalf of the Estuary Habitat Restoration Council (Council), the Corps is soliciting proposals for estuary habitat restoration projects. This document describes project criteria and evaluation criteria the Council will use to determine which projects to recommend. Recommended projects must provide ecosystem benefits, have scientific merit, be technically feasible, and be cost-effective. Proposals selected for Estuary Habitat Restoration Program funding will be implemented in accordance with a cost-share agreement with the Corps. This is not a grants program. Proposals must be received on or before August 14, 2006. ADDRESSES: proposal forms may be accessed at http://www.usace.army.mil/ civilworks/cecwp/estuary_act/ or by contacting the individuals listed in the following section. Project proposals may be submitted electronically, by mail, or by courier. Electronic submissions are preferred and will facilitate processing. Please follow the detailed instructions provided in section X. of the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ms. Ellen Cummings, headquarters, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Washington, DC 20314–1000, (202) 761–4750, e-mail: Ellen.M.Cummings@usace.army,mil; or, Mr. Chip Smith, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works), Washington, DC (703) 693–3655, e-mail: Chip.Smith@HQDA.Army.Mil. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: rwilkins on PROD1PC63 with NOTICES_1 DATES: VerDate Aug<31>2005 16:30 Jun 29, 2006 Jkt 208001 I. Introduction Under the Estuary Habitat Restoration Program, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (corps) is authorized to carry out estuary habitat restoration projects. However, the Estuary Habitat Restoration Council (Council) is responsible for soliciting, reviewing and evaluating project proposals. The Corps may only fund projects on the prioritized list provided by the Council. The Estuary Habitat Restoration Strategy prepared by the Council contains introductory information about the program and provides the context in which projects will be evaluated and the program will be conducted. The Strategy was published in the Federal Register, 67 FR 71942, December 3, 2002. It is also accessible at http:// www.usace.army.mil/civilworks/cecwp/ estuary_act/ in PDF format. An emphasis will be placed on achieving cost-effective restoration of ecosystems while promoting increased partnerships among agencies and between public and private sectors. Projects funded under this program will contribute to the Estuary Habitat Restoration Strategy goal of restoring 1,000,000 acres of estuary habitat. For purposes of this program, estuary is defined as ‘‘a part of a river or stream or other body of water that has an unimpaired connection with the open sea and where the sea water is measurably diluted with fresh water from land drainage.’’ Estuary also includes the ‘‘* * * near coastal waters and wetlands of the Great Lakes that are similar in form and function to estuaries * * *.’’ For this program, estuary is considered to extend from the head of tide to the boundary with the open sea (to downstream terminus features or structures such as barrier islands, reefs, sand bars, mud flats, or headlands in close proximity to the connection with the open sea). In the Great Lakes, riparian and nearshore areas will be considered to be estuaries. Estuary habitat includes the estuary and its associated ecosystems, such as: Salt, brackish, and fresh water coastal marshes; coastal forested wetlands and other coastal wetlands; maritime forests; coastal grasslands; tidal flats; natural shoreline areas; shellfish beds; sea grass meadows; kelp beds; river deltas; and river and stream corridors under tidal influence. II. Eligible Restoration Activities Section 103 of the Estuary Restoration Act of 2000 (the Act) defines the term estuary habitat restoration activity to mean ‘‘an activity that results in improving degraded estuaries or estuary PO 00000 Frm 00021 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 37547 habitat or creating estuary habitat (including both physical and functional restoration), with the goal of attaining a self-sustaining system integrated into the surrounding landscape.’’ Projects funded under this program will be consistent with this definition. Eligible habitat restoration activities include re-establishment of chemical, physical, hydrologic, and biological features and components associated with an estuary. Restoration may include, but is not limited to, improvement of estuarine wetland tidal exchange or reestablishment of historic hydrology; dam or berm removal; improvement or reestablishment of fish passage; appropriate reef/substrate/ habitat creation; planting of native estuarine wetland and submerged aquatic vegetation; reintroduction of native species; control of invasive species; and establishment of riparian buffer zones in the estuary. Cleanup of pollution for the benefit of estuary habitat may be considered, as long as it does not meet the definition of excluded activities under the Act (see section III, Excluded Activities, below). In general, proposed projects should clearly demonstrate anticipated benefits to habitats such as those habitats listed in the Introduction. Although the Council recognizes that water quality and land use issues may impact habitat restoration efforts and must be considered in project planning, the Estuary Habitat Restoration Program is intended to fund physical habitat restoration projects, not measures such as storm water detention ponds, wastewater treatment plant upgrades or combined sewer outfall improvements. III. Excluded Activities Estuary Habitat Restoration Program funds will not be used for any activity that constitutes mitigation required under any Federal or State law for the adverse effects of an activity regulated or otherwise governed by Federal or State law, or that constitutes restoration for natural resource damages required under any Federal or State law. Estuary Habitat Restoration Program funds will not be used for remediation of any hazardous substances regulated under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (42 U.S.C. 9601–9675). Additionally, Estuary Habitat Restoration Program funds will not be used to carry out projects on Federal lands. IV. Project Sponsor and Cost Sharing The Non-Federal Sponsor may be a State, a political subdivision of a State, a Tribe, or a regional or interstate E:\FR\FM\30JNN1.SGM 30JNN1 rwilkins on PROD1PC63 with NOTICES_1 37548 Federal Register / Vol. 71, No. 126 / Friday, June 30, 2006 / Notices agency. A nongovernmental organization may serve as a Non-Federal Sponsor as determined by the Secretary of the Army (Secretary) in consultation with appropriate State and local governmental agencies and Tribes. For purposes of this act the term nongovernmental organization does not include for profit enterprises. The NonFederal Sponsor must be able to provide the real estate interests necessary for implementation, operation, maintenance, repair, rehabilitation and replacement of the project. In most cases this means the Non-Federal Sponsor must have fee title to the lands necessary for the project although in some cases an easement may be sufficient. The Federal share of the cost of an estuary habitat restoration project shall not exceed 65 percent except that the Federal share shall be 85 percent of the incremental additional cost of pilot testing or demonstration of an innovative technology having the potential for improved costeffectiveness. Innovative technology is defined as novel processes, techniques and/or materials to restore habitat, or the use of existing processes, techniques, and/or materials in a new restoration application. Prior to initiation of a project, the Non-Federal Sponsor must enter into a written agreement with the Corps in which the Non-Federal Sponsor agrees to provide its share of the project cost. The Non-Federal Sponsor shall provide necessary lands, easements, rights, and relocations. The value of the required real estate interests will be credited towards the Non-Federal Sponsor’s share of the project cost. The NonFederal Sponsor may also provide services and in-kind contributions or credit toward its share of the project costs. Credit for the value of in-kind contributions is subject to satisfactory compliance with applicable Federal labor laws covering non-Federal construction, including but not limited to the Davis-Bacon Act (40 U.S.C. 276a et seq.), the Contract Work Hours and Safety Standards Act (40 U.S.C. 327 et seq., and the Copeland Anti-Kickback Act (40 U.S.C. 276c). Credit may be afforded for the value of required work undertaken by volunteers, using the hourly value in common usage for grants program but not to exceed the Federal estimate of the cost of activity. The Non-Federal Sponsor shall also be responsible for all costs associated with operating, maintaining, replacing, repairing, and rehabilitating these projects as well as for the required postconstruction monitoring. The cost of these activities will not be included in VerDate Aug<31>2005 16:30 Jun 29, 2006 Jkt 208001 the total project cost and will not count toward the Non-Federal Sponsor’s minimum 35 percent share of the project cost. Other Federal funds, i.e. funds appropriated to agencies other than the Corps, may not be used by the NonFederal Sponsor to meet its share of the project cost unless the other Federal agency verifies in writing that expenditure of funds for such purpose is expressly authorized by statute. Otherwise, other Federal funds may be used for the proposed project if consistent with the other agency’s authorities and will count as part of the Federal share of the project cost. Any non-Federal funds or contributions used as a match for these other Federal funds or any other Federal program may be used toward the project but will not be considered in determining the nonFederal share in relation to the Corps’ costs. Credit will be provided only for work necessary for the specific project being funded with Estuary Habitat Restoration Program funds. For example, a nonFederal entity is engaged in the removal of ten dams, has removed six dams, and now seeks assistance for the removal of the remaining four dams as an Estuary Habitat Restoration Program project. None of the costs associated with the removal of the six dams is creditable as part of the non-Federal share of the project for removal of four dams. This is not a grants program. The Corps will not transfer funds to the NonFederal Sponsor. The Corps will implement (construct) some portion of the proposed project. To the extent possible the Corps will use the planning, evaluation, and design products provided by the applicant. However, the Corps will be responsible for assuring compliance with Federal environmental statutes, assuring the project is designed to avoid adverse impacts on other properties and that the project can reasonably be expected to provide the desired benefits, and managing construction activities not performed by the Non-Federal Sponsor as in-kind contribution. These Corps activities will be part of the Federal cost of the project, and the Non-Federal Sponsor should consider these costs in developing the project cost estimate. V. Funding Availability Limited funds have been appropriated for implementation of projects under the Estuary Habitat Restoration Program. The Council will not accept proposals that indicate an estimated Federal cost of less than $100,000 or more than $1,000,000. There is no guarantee that sufficient funds will be available to fund PO 00000 Frm 00022 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 all eligible proposals. The number of proposals funded as a result of this notice will depend on the number of eligible proposals received, the estimated amount of funds required for each selected project, and the merit and ranking of the proposals. The exact amount of the Federal and non-Federal cost share for each selected project will be specified in the written agreement discussed in Project Cost Sharing, Section IV above. Projects selected for funding must be capable of producing the ecosystem benefits described in the proposal in the absence of Federal funding beyond that established in the cost-share agreement. VI. Proposal Review Process Proposals will be screened as discussed in section VII.A. below to determine eligibility. The staff of the agencies represented on the Council will conduct a technical review of the eligible proposals in accordance with the criteria described in section VII.B. below. Agency scientists involved in estuarine research or the development and application of innovative methods for restoring estuary habitats will also review proposals that indicate the use of innovative technologies. Each agency will score and rank the proposals; the staff of the five agencies will use these rankings as the basis for a consolidated recommendation. The Council will consider the staff recommendation, the items discussed in sections VII.C. and D. below, and possibly other factors when preparing its prioritized list of recommended projects for the Secretary’s use. VII. Proposal Review Criteria This section describes the criteria that will be used to review and select projects to be recommended to the Secretary for funding under the Act. It will benefit applicants to ensure that project proposals clearly address the criteria set forth under the following four subsections: Initial Screening of Project Proposals; Evaluation of Project Proposals; Priority Elements; and Other Factors. A. Initial Screening of Project Proposals Proposals will be screened according to the requirements listed in sections 104(b) and 104(c)(2) of the Act as described below. In addition, proposed projects must not include excluded activities as discussed in Section III above. Proposals that do not meet all of these finial screening criteria will not be evaluated further. To be accepted the proposal must: (1) Originate from a non-Federal Sponsor (section 104(b)); E:\FR\FM\30JNN1.SGM 30JNN1 Federal Register / Vol. 71, No. 126 / Friday, June 30, 2006 / Notices (2) Address restoration needs identified in an estuary habitat restoration plan (section 104(c)(2)(A)). The Act defines ‘‘estuary habitat restoration plan’’ as any Federal or State plan for restoration of degraded estuary habitat that was developed with substantial participation of the public. (section 103(6)); (3) Be consistent with the Estuary Habitat Restoration Strategy (section 104(c)(2)(B)) by: (a) Including eligible restoration activities that provide ecosystem benefits; (b) Addressing estuary habitat trends (including historic losses) in the project region, and indicating how these were considered in developing the project proposal; (c) Involving a partnership approach, and (d) Clearly describing the benefits expected to be realized by the proposed project; (4) Include a monitoring plan that is consistent with standards developed by NOAA under section 104(c)(2)(C)) (available at: http://ear.noaa.gov/htmls/ ear/ear_monitoring.html, or from the contacts listed in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section above.). Minimum monitoring requirements include monitoring over a period of five years and tracking of at least one structural and one functional element. Examples of structural and functional elements are contained in the monitoring document cited above, and; (5) Include satisfactory assurances that the non-Federal Sponsor has adequate authority and resources to carry out items of local cooperation and properly maintain the project (section 104(c)(2)(D)). B. Evaluation of Project Proposals rwilkins on PROD1PC63 with NOTICES_1 Proposals that meet the initial screening criteria in A. above will be eligible for further review using the criteria listed below.The following criteria are listed in order of relative importance with the most important criteria first. The first four criteria are the most important. If the reviewers find that a response to any of the first four criteria is completely inadequate, the proposal will be rejected. For each of the listed criteria the focus will be on the factors mentioned below but other factors may also be considered. (1) Ecosystem Benefits Proposal will be evaluated based on the extent of proposed habitat restoration activities and the type(s) of habitiat(s) that will be restored. Following are specific factors that VerDate Aug<31>2005 16:30 Jun 29, 2006 Jkt 208001 reviewers will consider as part of this criterion: (a) Prevention or reversal of estuary habitat loss or degradation in the project area and the nature and extent of the proposed project’s potential contribution to the long-term conservation of estuary habitat function, (b) Benefits for Federal listed endangered or threatened species, species proposed for Federal listing, recently delisted species or designated or proposed critical habitat in the project area, (c) Extent to which the project will provide, restore, or improve habitat important for estuary-dependent fish and/or migratory birds (e.g. breeding, spawning, nursery, foraging, or staging habitat), (d) Prevention or reduction of nonpoint source pollution or other contaminants to estuary habitats or restoration of estuary habitats that are already contaminated, and (e) Benefits to nearby existing habitat areas, or contribution to the creation of wildlife/ecological corridors connecting existing habitat areas. Examples of activities that would not qualify would be restoration of an oyster bed open to commercial harvest or a fish hatchery. Educational facilities such as classrooms, botanical gardens, or recreational facilities such as trails or boat ramps would also not qualify for cost sharing under this program although they may be included in the project if they do not conflict with the environmental benefits expected from project implementation. (2) Cost-Effectiveness Reviewers will evaluate the relationship between estimated project costs, including the cost of remaining planning, design, construction, required lands, and annual operation, maintenance, repair, rehabilitation and replacement and monitoring cost, to the monetary and non-monetary benefits described in the proposal. Clear quantitative and qualitative descriptions of the proposed outputs will facilitate this evaluation. Examples of units of measure include: acres restored, flood damage reduction levels, changes in water quality parameters, increases in the productivity of various species, and presence and absence of certain species. The estimated persistence of the proposed project outputs will be considered. For example, will the area be maintained as a wetland, or allowed to erode or become upland? Will the proposed project produce additional benefits due to synergy between the proposed project and other ongoing or proposed projects? Reviewers will PO 00000 Frm 00023 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 37549 consider if the proposed project is a cost-effective way to achieve the proposed benefits. In some instances the costs and benefits of proposed projects may be compared to the costs and benefits of other similar projects in the area. The significance of the proposed outputs is also a factor to be considered as part of cost-effectiveness. The significance of restoration outputs should be recognized in terms of institutional (such as laws, adopted plans, or policy statements), public (such as support for the project), or technical (such as addresses scarcity, increases limiting habitat, or improves or increases biodiversity) importance. (3) Technical Feasibility Reviewers will evaluate the extent to which, given current and projected environmental conditions of the restoration site—e.g., soils, flood regime, presence of invasive species, surrounding land use—the proposed project is likely to be successfully implemented. Consideration will also be given to: (a) Potential success of restoration techniques, based on history of successful implementation in field or pilot projects, (b) Implementation schedule, (c) Expected length of time before success can be demonstrated, (d) Proposed corrective actions using monitoring information, (e) Project management plants, and (f) Experience and qualifications of project personnel. (4) Scientific Merit Reviewers will evaluate the extent to which the project deign is based on sound ecological principles and is likely to meet project goals. This may be indicated by the following factors: (a) Goals of the project are reasonable considering the existing and former habitat types present at the site and other local influences, (b) The proposed restoration methodology demonstrates an understanding of habitat function, and (c) Specific methods proposed (if successfully implemented—see criteria on technical feasibility) have a good chance of meeting project goals and achieving long-term sustainability. (5) Agency Coordination Reviewers will evaluate the degree to which the project will encourage increased coordination and cooperation among Federal, State, and local government agencies. Some of the indicators used to evaluate coordination area: (a) The State, Federal, and local agencies involved in developing the E:\FR\FM\30JNN1.SGM 30JNN1 37550 Federal Register / Vol. 71, No. 126 / Friday, June 30, 2006 / Notices project and their expected roles in implementation. (b) The nature of agency coordination, e.g., joint funding, periodic multiagency review of the project, collaboration on adaptive management decisions, joint monitoring, opportunities for future collaboration, etc., and (c) Whether a formal agreement, such as a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), exists between/among agencies as part of the project. (6) Public/Private Partnerships One of the focuses of the Act is the encouragement of new public/private partnerships. Reviewers will evaluate the degree to which the project will foster public/private partnerships and uses Federal resources to encourage increased private sector involvement. Indicators of the success at meeting this criterion follow. How will the project promote collaboration or create partnerships among public and private entities, including potential for future new or expanded public/private partnerships? What mechanisms are being used to establish the partnership, e.g., joint funding, shared monitoring, joint decision-making on adaptive management strategies? Is there a formal agreement, such as an MOU, between/ among the partners as part of the project? Also important is the extent to which the project creates an opportunity for long-term partnerships among public and private entities. (7) Level of Contribution Reviewers will consider the level and type (cash or in-kind) of non-Federal contribution. Providing more than the minimum 35-percent share will be rated favorably. It must be clear how much of the total project cost the Estuary Habitat Restoration Program is expected to provide, how much is coming from other Federal sources, how much is coming directly from the sponsor, and how much is available or expected to be provided by other sources (either cash or in-kind). rwilkins on PROD1PC63 with NOTICES_1 (8) Monitoring Plan Revivers will consider the following factors in evaluating the quality of the monitoring plan: (a) Linkage between the monitoring methods and the project goals, including success criteria. (b) How results will be evaluated (statistical comparison to baseline or reference condition, trend analysis, or other quantitative or qualitative approach). VerDate Aug<31>2005 16:30 Jun 29, 2006 Jkt 208001 (c) How baseline conditions will be established for the parameters to be measured, (d) If applicable, the use and selection of reference sites, where they are located, how they were chosen, and whether they represent target conditions for the habitat or conditions at the site without restoration, (e) The appropriateness of the nature, frequency, and timing of measurements and which areas will be sampled; (f) Provisions for adaptive management, and data reporting, and (g) Whether the length of the proposed monitoring plan is appropriate for the project goals. The minimum required monitoring period is five years. (9) Multiple Benefits In addition to the ecosystem benefits discussed in criterion (1) above, restored estuary habitats may provide additional benefits. Among these the reviewers will consider are: flood damage reduction, protection from storm surge, water quality and/or quantity for human uses, recreational opportunities, and benefits to commercial fisheries. (10) Dedicated Funding Source Reviewers will consider if the State in which the proposed project will be located has a dedicated source of funding to acquire or restore estuary habitat, natural areas, and open spaces for the benefit of estuary habitat restoration or protection. (11) Supports Regional Restoration Goals Reviewers will evaluate the extent to which the proposed project contributes to meeting and/or strengthening the needs, goals, objectives and restoration priorities contained in regional restoration plans, and the means that will be used to measure such progress. (12) Supports Federal Plan If the proposed project supports a Federal plan (examples of Federal plans are listed in section 103(6)(B) of the Act), reviewers will consider the extent to which the project would contribute to meeting and/or strengthening the plan’s needs, goals, objectives and restoration priorities, and the means that will be used to measure such progress. C. Priority Elements Section 104(c)(4) of the Act directs the Secretary to give priority consideration to a project that merits selection based on the above criteria if it: (1) Occurs within a watershed where there is a program being implemented that addresses sources of pollution and other activities that otherwise would adversely affect the restored habitat; or PO 00000 Frm 00024 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 (2) Includes pilot testing or demonstration of an innovative technology having the potential to achieve better restoration results than other technologies in current practice, or comparable results at lower cost in terms of energy, economics, or environmental impacts. The Council will also consider these priority elements in ranking proposals. D. Other Factors In addition to considering the composite ratings developed in the evaluation process and the priority elements listed in C. above, the Council will consider other factors when preparing its prioritized list for the Secretary’s use. These factors include (but may not be limited to) the following: (1) Readiness of the project for implementation. Among the factors to be considered when evaluating readiness are the steps that must be taken prior to project implementation, potential delays to project implementation, and the status of real estate acquisition. (2) Balance between large and small projects, as defined in the Estuary Habitat Restoration Strategy. (3) Geographic distribution of the projects. VIII. Project Selection and Notification The Secretary will select projects for funding from the Council’s prioritized list of recommended projects after considering the criteria contained in section 104(c) of the Act, availability of funds and any reasonable factors. It is expected that the Secretary will select proposals for implementation approximately 100 days after the close of this solicitation or 30 days after receiving the list from the Council, whichever is later. The Non-Federal Sponsor of each proposal will be notified of its status at the conclusion of the selection process. Staff from the appropriate Corps District will work with the Non-Federal Sponsor of each selected project to develop the costsharing agreements and schedules for project implementation. IX. Project Application Form Clarifications Most of the entries are relatively selfexplanatory, however, based on experience some clarifying comments were provided to facilitate completion of the form. A. Project name should be short but unique and descriptive. B. Organization Point of Contact. The individual listed should be the person that can answer project specific E:\FR\FM\30JNN1.SGM 30JNN1 Federal Register / Vol. 71, No. 126 / Friday, June 30, 2006 / Notices rwilkins on PROD1PC63 with NOTICES_1 questions and will be the day-to-day contact for the project. This may be a different individual signing the NonFederal certification. C. Item 8. Funding and Partners. Postconstruction costs including monitoring do not count as a cost share for projects funded under the Estuary Restoration Act and should not be included in the estimated total project cost. In the table, list the amount of funds being sought from the Estuary Habitat Restoration Program as from the Corps, as in-kind and with the entire amount originating from a Federal funding source. D. Include the name of the organization as well as the title of the individual signing the Non-Federal Sponsor certification. E. If submitting a proposal electronically, a hard copy of the Letter of Assurance and Certification may be submitted if its is post-marked by the closing date for this announcement and the electronic submission has the text of the Letter of Assurance and Certification with an indication of the date signed and name/title organization of the individual signing these documents. The Letter of Assurance should be addressed to ‘‘Chairman, Estuary Habitat Restoration Council’’ and sent to the address in Section X for hard copy submittals. F. In the project description section of the project application form the phrase ‘‘Estimated life cycle of the project’’ refers to the functional life of the project. As an example a wetland may fill with sediment over time and its functionality diminished. The ‘‘lifecycle’’ would be the number of years until the project no longer provided the original benefits. G. The proposed project should only be described as innovative if the NonFederal Sponsor is requesting the special cost sharing for the incremental costs of including testing of or a demonstration of an innovative technology as defined in the application form. X. Application Process Proposal application forms are available at http://www/usace/army/ mil/civilworks/cecwp/estuary_act/ or by contacting Ms. Ellen Cummings, Headquarters, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Washington, DC 20314–1000, (202) 761–4750, e-mail: Ellen.M.Cummings@usace.army.mil; or Chip Smith, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works), Washington, DC (703) 693–3655, e-mail: Chip.Smith@HODA.Army.Mil. The application form has been approved by OMB in compliance with the Paper Work Reduction Act and is OMB No. VerDate Aug<31>2005 16:30 Jun 29, 2006 Jkt 208001 0710–0014 with an expiration date of 4/ 30/2008. Electronic submissions are preferred and should be sent to estuary. restoration@usace.army.mil Multiple email messages may be required to ensure successful receipt of the files exceed 4MB is size. Questions may also be sent to the same e-mail address. Hard copy submissions may be sent or delivered to HQUSACE, ATTN; CECW– PC, 7701 Telegraph Road #3D72, Alexandria, VA 22315–3860. The part of the nomination prepared to address the ‘‘proposal elements’’ portion of the application should be no more than twelve double-spaced pages, using a 10 or 12-point font. Paper copies should be printed on one side only of an 8.5 in. x 11 in. page and not bound. Only one hard copy is required. A PC-compatible floppy risk or CD–ROM in either Microsoft Word or WordPerfect format may accompany the paper copy. Nominations for multiple projects submitted by the same applicant must be submitted in separate e-mail messages and/or envelopes. Brenda S. Bowen, Army Federal Register Liaison Officer. [FR Doc. 06–5927 Filed 6–29–06; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3710–92–M DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE Department of the Army; Corps of Engineers Chief of Engineers Environmental Advisory Board Department of the Army, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, DoD. ACTION: Notice of open meeting. AGENCY: In accordance with Section 10(a)(2) of the Federal Advisory Committee Act (Pub. L. 92–463), announcement is made of the following committee meeting: Name of Committee: Chief of Engineers Environmental Advisory Board (EAB). Date of Meeting: July 19, 2006. Place: U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center, Coastal and Hydraulics Laboratory, 3909 Halls Ferry Road, Vicksburg, MS 39180–6199. Time: 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ms. Rennie Sherman, Executive Secretary, rennie.h.sherman@usace.army.mil 202– 761–7771. Notice of intent to attend the meeting must be provided by July 17, 2006. SUMMARY: The Board advises the Chief of Engineers by providing expert and independent SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: PO 00000 Frm 00025 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 37551 advice on environmental issues facing the Corps of Engineers. Proposed Agenda: On Wednesday, July 19, a joint meeting with the Coastal Engineering Research Board will be held. Presentations concerning Coastal Restoration Challenges are expected to include the following topics, ‘‘Interagency Performance Evaluation Taskforce,’’ ‘‘Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Project,’’ ‘‘Mississippi Coastal Improvement Project,’’ and ‘‘Louisiana Coastal Area.’’ The entire meeting is open to the public; and public comment is tentatively scheduled for 2 p.m. Since the meeting will be held in a government facility and seating capacity of the meeting is limited, advance notice of attendance is required. All attendees must stop at the guard gate and give their name and destination to the attending guard. A list of attendees will be provided to security. Oral participation by public attendees is encouraged during the time scheduled on the agenda. Each speaker will be limited to 3 minutes in order to accommodate as many people as possible during the limited time. Written statements may be submitted prior to the meeting or up to 30 days after the meeting. Brenda S. Bowen, Army Federal Register Liaison Officer. [FR Doc. 06–5922 Filed 6–29–06; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3710–92–M DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE Department of the Army; Corps of Engineers Coastal Engineering Research Board (CERB) Department of the Army, DoD. Notice of meeting. AGENCY: ACTION: SUMMARY: In accordance with Section 10(a)(2) of the Federal Advisory Committee Act (Pub. L. 92–463), announcement is made of the following committee meeting: Name of Committee: Coastal Engineering Research Board (CERB). Date of Meeting: July 17–19, 2006. Place: U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center, Coastal and Hydraulics Laboratory, 3909 Halls Ferry Road, Vicksburg, MS 39180–6199. Time: 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (July 17, 2006). 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (July 18, 2006). 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (July 19, 2006). For Further Information Contact: Inquiries and notice of intent to attend the meeting may be addressed to Colonel James R. Rowan, Executive Secretary, Commander, U.S. Army Engineer Research and E:\FR\FM\30JNN1.SGM 30JNN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 71, Number 126 (Friday, June 30, 2006)]
[Notices]
[Pages 37547-37551]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 06-5927]


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DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE

Department of the Army; Corps of Engineers


Notice of Solicitation for Estuary Habitat Restoration Program

AGENCY: Department of the Army, Army Corps of Engineers, DoD.

ACTION: Notice of solicitation for project applications.

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SUMMARY: Congress has appropriated limited funds to the U.S. Army Corps 
of Engineers (Corps) to implement the Estuary Habitat Restoration 
Program as authorized in Section 104 of the Estuary Restoration Act of 
2000, Title I of the Estuaries and Clean Waters Act of 2000 (Pub. L. 
106-457) (accessible at http://era.noaa.gov/pdfs/act_s835.pdf). On 
behalf of the Estuary Habitat Restoration Council (Council), the Corps 
is soliciting proposals for estuary habitat restoration projects. This 
document describes project criteria and evaluation criteria the Council 
will use to determine which projects to recommend. Recommended projects 
must provide ecosystem benefits, have scientific merit, be technically 
feasible, and be cost-effective. Proposals selected for Estuary Habitat 
Restoration Program funding will be implemented in accordance with a 
cost-share agreement with the Corps. This is not a grants program.

DATES: Proposals must be received on or before August 14, 2006.

ADDRESSES: proposal forms may be accessed at http://www.usace.army.mil/
civilworks/cecwp/estuary_act/ or by contacting the individuals listed 
in the following section. Project proposals may be submitted 
electronically, by mail, or by courier. Electronic submissions are 
preferred and will facilitate processing. Please follow the detailed 
instructions provided in section X. of the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION 
section.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ms. Ellen Cummings, headquarters, U.S. 
Army Corps of Engineers, Washington, DC 20314-1000, (202) 761-4750, e-
mail: Ellen.M.Cummings@usace.army,mil; or, Mr. Chip Smith, Office of 
the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works), Washington, DC (703) 
693-3655, e-mail: Chip.Smith@HQDA.Army.Mil.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

I. Introduction

    Under the Estuary Habitat Restoration Program, the U.S. Army Corps 
of Engineers (corps) is authorized to carry out estuary habitat 
restoration projects. However, the Estuary Habitat Restoration Council 
(Council) is responsible for soliciting, reviewing and evaluating 
project proposals. The Corps may only fund projects on the prioritized 
list provided by the Council. The Estuary Habitat Restoration Strategy 
prepared by the Council contains introductory information about the 
program and provides the context in which projects will be evaluated 
and the program will be conducted. The Strategy was published in the 
Federal Register, 67 FR 71942, December 3, 2002. It is also accessible 
at http://www.usace.army.mil/civilworks/cecwp/estuary_act/ in PDF 
format.
    An emphasis will be placed on achieving cost-effective restoration 
of ecosystems while promoting increased partnerships among agencies and 
between public and private sectors. Projects funded under this program 
will contribute to the Estuary Habitat Restoration Strategy goal of 
restoring 1,000,000 acres of estuary habitat.
    For purposes of this program, estuary is defined as ``a part of a 
river or stream or other body of water that has an unimpaired 
connection with the open sea and where the sea water is measurably 
diluted with fresh water from land drainage.'' Estuary also includes 
the ``* * * near coastal waters and wetlands of the Great Lakes that 
are similar in form and function to estuaries * * *.'' For this 
program, estuary is considered to extend from the head of tide to the 
boundary with the open sea (to downstream terminus features or 
structures such as barrier islands, reefs, sand bars, mud flats, or 
headlands in close proximity to the connection with the open sea). In 
the Great Lakes, riparian and nearshore areas will be considered to be 
estuaries. Estuary habitat includes the estuary and its associated 
ecosystems, such as: Salt, brackish, and fresh water coastal marshes; 
coastal forested wetlands and other coastal wetlands; maritime forests; 
coastal grasslands; tidal flats; natural shoreline areas; shellfish 
beds; sea grass meadows; kelp beds; river deltas; and river and stream 
corridors under tidal influence.

II. Eligible Restoration Activities

    Section 103 of the Estuary Restoration Act of 2000 (the Act) 
defines the term estuary habitat restoration activity to mean ``an 
activity that results in improving degraded estuaries or estuary 
habitat or creating estuary habitat (including both physical and 
functional restoration), with the goal of attaining a self-sustaining 
system integrated into the surrounding landscape.'' Projects funded 
under this program will be consistent with this definition.
    Eligible habitat restoration activities include re-establishment of 
chemical, physical, hydrologic, and biological features and components 
associated with an estuary. Restoration may include, but is not limited 
to, improvement of estuarine wetland tidal exchange or reestablishment 
of historic hydrology; dam or berm removal; improvement or 
reestablishment of fish passage; appropriate reef/substrate/habitat 
creation; planting of native estuarine wetland and submerged aquatic 
vegetation; reintroduction of native species; control of invasive 
species; and establishment of riparian buffer zones in the estuary. 
Cleanup of pollution for the benefit of estuary habitat may be 
considered, as long as it does not meet the definition of excluded 
activities under the Act (see section III, Excluded Activities, below).
    In general, proposed projects should clearly demonstrate 
anticipated benefits to habitats such as those habitats listed in the 
Introduction. Although the Council recognizes that water quality and 
land use issues may impact habitat restoration efforts and must be 
considered in project planning, the Estuary Habitat Restoration Program 
is intended to fund physical habitat restoration projects, not measures 
such as storm water detention ponds, wastewater treatment plant 
upgrades or combined sewer outfall improvements.

III. Excluded Activities

    Estuary Habitat Restoration Program funds will not be used for any 
activity that constitutes mitigation required under any Federal or 
State law for the adverse effects of an activity regulated or otherwise 
governed by Federal or State law, or that constitutes restoration for 
natural resource damages required under any Federal or State law. 
Estuary Habitat Restoration Program funds will not be used for 
remediation of any hazardous substances regulated under the 
Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act 
(42 U.S.C. 9601-9675). Additionally, Estuary Habitat Restoration 
Program funds will not be used to carry out projects on Federal lands.

IV. Project Sponsor and Cost Sharing

    The Non-Federal Sponsor may be a State, a political subdivision of 
a State, a Tribe, or a regional or interstate

[[Page 37548]]

agency. A nongovernmental organization may serve as a Non-Federal 
Sponsor as determined by the Secretary of the Army (Secretary) in 
consultation with appropriate State and local governmental agencies and 
Tribes. For purposes of this act the term non-governmental organization 
does not include for profit enterprises. The Non-Federal Sponsor must 
be able to provide the real estate interests necessary for 
implementation, operation, maintenance, repair, rehabilitation and 
replacement of the project. In most cases this means the Non-Federal 
Sponsor must have fee title to the lands necessary for the project 
although in some cases an easement may be sufficient.
    The Federal share of the cost of an estuary habitat restoration 
project shall not exceed 65 percent except that the Federal share shall 
be 85 percent of the incremental additional cost of pilot testing or 
demonstration of an innovative technology having the potential for 
improved cost-effectiveness. Innovative technology is defined as novel 
processes, techniques and/or materials to restore habitat, or the use 
of existing processes, techniques, and/or materials in a new 
restoration application.
    Prior to initiation of a project, the Non-Federal Sponsor must 
enter into a written agreement with the Corps in which the Non-Federal 
Sponsor agrees to provide its share of the project cost. The Non-
Federal Sponsor shall provide necessary lands, easements, rights, and 
relocations. The value of the required real estate interests will be 
credited towards the Non-Federal Sponsor's share of the project cost. 
The Non-Federal Sponsor may also provide services and in-kind 
contributions or credit toward its share of the project costs. Credit 
for the value of in-kind contributions is subject to satisfactory 
compliance with applicable Federal labor laws covering non-Federal 
construction, including but not limited to the Davis-Bacon Act (40 
U.S.C. 276a et seq.), the Contract Work Hours and Safety Standards Act 
(40 U.S.C. 327 et seq., and the Copeland Anti-Kickback Act (40 U.S.C. 
276c). Credit may be afforded for the value of required work undertaken 
by volunteers, using the hourly value in common usage for grants 
program but not to exceed the Federal estimate of the cost of activity. 
The Non-Federal Sponsor shall also be responsible for all costs 
associated with operating, maintaining, replacing, repairing, and 
rehabilitating these projects as well as for the required post-
construction monitoring. The cost of these activities will not be 
included in the total project cost and will not count toward the Non-
Federal Sponsor's minimum 35 percent share of the project cost.
    Other Federal funds, i.e. funds appropriated to agencies other than 
the Corps, may not be used by the Non-Federal Sponsor to meet its share 
of the project cost unless the other Federal agency verifies in writing 
that expenditure of funds for such purpose is expressly authorized by 
statute. Otherwise, other Federal funds may be used for the proposed 
project if consistent with the other agency's authorities and will 
count as part of the Federal share of the project cost. Any non-Federal 
funds or contributions used as a match for these other Federal funds or 
any other Federal program may be used toward the project but will not 
be considered in determining the non-Federal share in relation to the 
Corps' costs.
    Credit will be provided only for work necessary for the specific 
project being funded with Estuary Habitat Restoration Program funds. 
For example, a non-Federal entity is engaged in the removal of ten 
dams, has removed six dams, and now seeks assistance for the removal of 
the remaining four dams as an Estuary Habitat Restoration Program 
project. None of the costs associated with the removal of the six dams 
is creditable as part of the non-Federal share of the project for 
removal of four dams.
    This is not a grants program. The Corps will not transfer funds to 
the Non-Federal Sponsor. The Corps will implement (construct) some 
portion of the proposed project. To the extent possible the Corps will 
use the planning, evaluation, and design products provided by the 
applicant. However, the Corps will be responsible for assuring 
compliance with Federal environmental statutes, assuring the project is 
designed to avoid adverse impacts on other properties and that the 
project can reasonably be expected to provide the desired benefits, and 
managing construction activities not performed by the Non-Federal 
Sponsor as in-kind contribution. These Corps activities will be part of 
the Federal cost of the project, and the Non-Federal Sponsor should 
consider these costs in developing the project cost estimate.

V. Funding Availability

    Limited funds have been appropriated for implementation of projects 
under the Estuary Habitat Restoration Program. The Council will not 
accept proposals that indicate an estimated Federal cost of less than 
$100,000 or more than $1,000,000. There is no guarantee that sufficient 
funds will be available to fund all eligible proposals. The number of 
proposals funded as a result of this notice will depend on the number 
of eligible proposals received, the estimated amount of funds required 
for each selected project, and the merit and ranking of the proposals. 
The exact amount of the Federal and non-Federal cost share for each 
selected project will be specified in the written agreement discussed 
in Project Cost Sharing, Section IV above. Projects selected for 
funding must be capable of producing the ecosystem benefits described 
in the proposal in the absence of Federal funding beyond that 
established in the cost-share agreement.

VI. Proposal Review Process

    Proposals will be screened as discussed in section VII.A. below to 
determine eligibility. The staff of the agencies represented on the 
Council will conduct a technical review of the eligible proposals in 
accordance with the criteria described in section VII.B. below. Agency 
scientists involved in estuarine research or the development and 
application of innovative methods for restoring estuary habitats will 
also review proposals that indicate the use of innovative technologies. 
Each agency will score and rank the proposals; the staff of the five 
agencies will use these rankings as the basis for a consolidated 
recommendation. The Council will consider the staff recommendation, the 
items discussed in sections VII.C. and D. below, and possibly other 
factors when preparing its prioritized list of recommended projects for 
the Secretary's use.

VII. Proposal Review Criteria

    This section describes the criteria that will be used to review and 
select projects to be recommended to the Secretary for funding under 
the Act. It will benefit applicants to ensure that project proposals 
clearly address the criteria set forth under the following four 
subsections: Initial Screening of Project Proposals; Evaluation of 
Project Proposals; Priority Elements; and Other Factors.

A. Initial Screening of Project Proposals

    Proposals will be screened according to the requirements listed in 
sections 104(b) and 104(c)(2) of the Act as described below. In 
addition, proposed projects must not include excluded activities as 
discussed in Section III above. Proposals that do not meet all of these 
finial screening criteria will not be evaluated further. To be accepted 
the proposal must:
    (1) Originate from a non-Federal Sponsor (section 104(b));

[[Page 37549]]

    (2) Address restoration needs identified in an estuary habitat 
restoration plan (section 104(c)(2)(A)). The Act defines ``estuary 
habitat restoration plan'' as any Federal or State plan for restoration 
of degraded estuary habitat that was developed with substantial 
participation of the public. (section 103(6));
    (3) Be consistent with the Estuary Habitat Restoration Strategy 
(section 104(c)(2)(B)) by:
    (a) Including eligible restoration activities that provide 
ecosystem benefits;
    (b) Addressing estuary habitat trends (including historic losses) 
in the project region, and indicating how these were considered in 
developing the project proposal;
    (c) Involving a partnership approach, and
    (d) Clearly describing the benefits expected to be realized by the 
proposed project;
    (4) Include a monitoring plan that is consistent with standards 
developed by NOAA under section 104(c)(2)(C)) (available at: http://
ear.noaa.gov/htmls/ear/ear_monitoring.html, or from the contacts 
listed in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section above.). Minimum 
monitoring requirements include monitoring over a period of five years 
and tracking of at least one structural and one functional element. 
Examples of structural and functional elements are contained in the 
monitoring document cited above, and;
    (5) Include satisfactory assurances that the non-Federal Sponsor 
has adequate authority and resources to carry out items of local 
cooperation and properly maintain the project (section 104(c)(2)(D)).

B. Evaluation of Project Proposals

    Proposals that meet the initial screening criteria in A. above will 
be eligible for further review using the criteria listed below.The 
following criteria are listed in order of relative importance with the 
most important criteria first. The first four criteria are the most 
important. If the reviewers find that a response to any of the first 
four criteria is completely inadequate, the proposal will be rejected. 
For each of the listed criteria the focus will be on the factors 
mentioned below but other factors may also be considered.
(1) Ecosystem Benefits
    Proposal will be evaluated based on the extent of proposed habitat 
restoration activities and the type(s) of habitiat(s) that will be 
restored. Following are specific factors that reviewers will consider 
as part of this criterion:
    (a) Prevention or reversal of estuary habitat loss or degradation 
in the project area and the nature and extent of the proposed project's 
potential contribution to the long-term conservation of estuary habitat 
function,
    (b) Benefits for Federal listed endangered or threatened species, 
species proposed for Federal listing, recently delisted species or 
designated or proposed critical habitat in the project area,
    (c) Extent to which the project will provide, restore, or improve 
habitat important for estuary-dependent fish and/or migratory birds 
(e.g. breeding, spawning, nursery, foraging, or staging habitat),
    (d) Prevention or reduction of nonpoint source pollution or other 
contaminants to estuary habitats or restoration of estuary habitats 
that are already contaminated, and
    (e) Benefits to nearby existing habitat areas, or contribution to 
the creation of wildlife/ecological corridors connecting existing 
habitat areas.
    Examples of activities that would not qualify would be restoration 
of an oyster bed open to commercial harvest or a fish hatchery. 
Educational facilities such as classrooms, botanical gardens, or 
recreational facilities such as trails or boat ramps would also not 
qualify for cost sharing under this program although they may be 
included in the project if they do not conflict with the environmental 
benefits expected from project implementation.
(2) Cost-Effectiveness
    Reviewers will evaluate the relationship between estimated project 
costs, including the cost of remaining planning, design, construction, 
required lands, and annual operation, maintenance, repair, 
rehabilitation and replacement and monitoring cost, to the monetary and 
non-monetary benefits described in the proposal. Clear quantitative and 
qualitative descriptions of the proposed outputs will facilitate this 
evaluation. Examples of units of measure include: acres restored, flood 
damage reduction levels, changes in water quality parameters, increases 
in the productivity of various species, and presence and absence of 
certain species. The estimated persistence of the proposed project 
outputs will be considered. For example, will the area be maintained as 
a wetland, or allowed to erode or become upland? Will the proposed 
project produce additional benefits due to synergy between the proposed 
project and other ongoing or proposed projects? Reviewers will consider 
if the proposed project is a cost-effective way to achieve the proposed 
benefits. In some instances the costs and benefits of proposed projects 
may be compared to the costs and benefits of other similar projects in 
the area. The significance of the proposed outputs is also a factor to 
be considered as part of cost-effectiveness. The significance of 
restoration outputs should be recognized in terms of institutional 
(such as laws, adopted plans, or policy statements), public (such as 
support for the project), or technical (such as addresses scarcity, 
increases limiting habitat, or improves or increases biodiversity) 
importance.
(3) Technical Feasibility
    Reviewers will evaluate the extent to which, given current and 
projected environmental conditions of the restoration site--e.g., 
soils, flood regime, presence of invasive species, surrounding land 
use--the proposed project is likely to be successfully implemented. 
Consideration will also be given to:
    (a) Potential success of restoration techniques, based on history 
of successful implementation in field or pilot projects,
    (b) Implementation schedule,
    (c) Expected length of time before success can be demonstrated,
    (d) Proposed corrective actions using monitoring information,
    (e) Project management plants, and
    (f) Experience and qualifications of project personnel.
(4) Scientific Merit
    Reviewers will evaluate the extent to which the project deign is 
based on sound ecological principles and is likely to meet project 
goals. This may be indicated by the following factors:
    (a) Goals of the project are reasonable considering the existing 
and former habitat types present at the site and other local 
influences,
    (b) The proposed restoration methodology demonstrates an 
understanding of habitat function, and
    (c) Specific methods proposed (if successfully implemented--see 
criteria on technical feasibility) have a good chance of meeting 
project goals and achieving long-term sustainability.
(5) Agency Coordination
    Reviewers will evaluate the degree to which the project will 
encourage increased coordination and cooperation among Federal, State, 
and local government agencies. Some of the indicators used to evaluate 
coordination area:
    (a) The State, Federal, and local agencies involved in developing 
the

[[Page 37550]]

project and their expected roles in implementation.
    (b) The nature of agency coordination, e.g., joint funding, 
periodic multi-agency review of the project, collaboration on adaptive 
management decisions, joint monitoring, opportunities for future 
collaboration, etc., and
    (c) Whether a formal agreement, such as a Memorandum of 
Understanding (MOU), exists between/among agencies as part of the 
project.
(6) Public/Private Partnerships
    One of the focuses of the Act is the encouragement of new public/
private partnerships. Reviewers will evaluate the degree to which the 
project will foster public/private partnerships and uses Federal 
resources to encourage increased private sector involvement. Indicators 
of the success at meeting this criterion follow. How will the project 
promote collaboration or create partnerships among public and private 
entities, including potential for future new or expanded public/private 
partnerships? What mechanisms are being used to establish the 
partnership, e.g., joint funding, shared monitoring, joint decision-
making on adaptive management strategies? Is there a formal agreement, 
such as an MOU, between/among the partners as part of the project? Also 
important is the extent to which the project creates an opportunity for 
long-term partnerships among public and private entities.
(7) Level of Contribution
    Reviewers will consider the level and type (cash or in-kind) of 
non-Federal contribution. Providing more than the minimum 35-percent 
share will be rated favorably. It must be clear how much of the total 
project cost the Estuary Habitat Restoration Program is expected to 
provide, how much is coming from other Federal sources, how much is 
coming directly from the sponsor, and how much is available or expected 
to be provided by other sources (either cash or in-kind).
(8) Monitoring Plan
    Revivers will consider the following factors in evaluating the 
quality of the monitoring plan:
    (a) Linkage between the monitoring methods and the project goals, 
including success criteria.
    (b) How results will be evaluated (statistical comparison to 
baseline or reference condition, trend analysis, or other quantitative 
or qualitative approach).
    (c) How baseline conditions will be established for the parameters 
to be measured,
    (d) If applicable, the use and selection of reference sites, where 
they are located, how they were chosen, and whether they represent 
target conditions for the habitat or conditions at the site without 
restoration,
    (e) The appropriateness of the nature, frequency, and timing of 
measurements and which areas will be sampled;
    (f) Provisions for adaptive management, and data reporting, and
    (g) Whether the length of the proposed monitoring plan is 
appropriate for the project goals. The minimum required monitoring 
period is five years.
(9) Multiple Benefits
    In addition to the ecosystem benefits discussed in criterion (1) 
above, restored estuary habitats may provide additional benefits. Among 
these the reviewers will consider are: flood damage reduction, 
protection from storm surge, water quality and/or quantity for human 
uses, recreational opportunities, and benefits to commercial fisheries.
(10) Dedicated Funding Source
    Reviewers will consider if the State in which the proposed project 
will be located has a dedicated source of funding to acquire or restore 
estuary habitat, natural areas, and open spaces for the benefit of 
estuary habitat restoration or protection.
(11) Supports Regional Restoration Goals
    Reviewers will evaluate the extent to which the proposed project 
contributes to meeting and/or strengthening the needs, goals, 
objectives and restoration priorities contained in regional restoration 
plans, and the means that will be used to measure such progress.
(12) Supports Federal Plan
    If the proposed project supports a Federal plan (examples of 
Federal plans are listed in section 103(6)(B) of the Act), reviewers 
will consider the extent to which the project would contribute to 
meeting and/or strengthening the plan's needs, goals, objectives and 
restoration priorities, and the means that will be used to measure such 
progress.

C. Priority Elements

    Section 104(c)(4) of the Act directs the Secretary to give priority 
consideration to a project that merits selection based on the above 
criteria if it:
    (1) Occurs within a watershed where there is a program being 
implemented that addresses sources of pollution and other activities 
that otherwise would adversely affect the restored habitat; or
    (2) Includes pilot testing or demonstration of an innovative 
technology having the potential to achieve better restoration results 
than other technologies in current practice, or comparable results at 
lower cost in terms of energy, economics, or environmental impacts.
    The Council will also consider these priority elements in ranking 
proposals.

D. Other Factors

    In addition to considering the composite ratings developed in the 
evaluation process and the priority elements listed in C. above, the 
Council will consider other factors when preparing its prioritized list 
for the Secretary's use. These factors include (but may not be limited 
to) the following:
    (1) Readiness of the project for implementation. Among the factors 
to be considered when evaluating readiness are the steps that must be 
taken prior to project implementation, potential delays to project 
implementation, and the status of real estate acquisition.
    (2) Balance between large and small projects, as defined in the 
Estuary Habitat Restoration Strategy.
    (3) Geographic distribution of the projects.

VIII. Project Selection and Notification

    The Secretary will select projects for funding from the Council's 
prioritized list of recommended projects after considering the criteria 
contained in section 104(c) of the Act, availability of funds and any 
reasonable factors. It is expected that the Secretary will select 
proposals for implementation approximately 100 days after the close of 
this solicitation or 30 days after receiving the list from the Council, 
whichever is later. The Non-Federal Sponsor of each proposal will be 
notified of its status at the conclusion of the selection process. 
Staff from the appropriate Corps District will work with the Non-
Federal Sponsor of each selected project to develop the cost-sharing 
agreements and schedules for project implementation.

IX. Project Application Form Clarifications

    Most of the entries are relatively self-explanatory, however, based 
on experience some clarifying comments were provided to facilitate 
completion of the form.
    A. Project name should be short but unique and descriptive.
    B. Organization Point of Contact. The individual listed should be 
the person that can answer project specific

[[Page 37551]]

questions and will be the day-to-day contact for the project. This may 
be a different individual signing the Non-Federal certification.
    C. Item 8. Funding and Partners. Post-construction costs including 
monitoring do not count as a cost share for projects funded under the 
Estuary Restoration Act and should not be included in the estimated 
total project cost. In the table, list the amount of funds being sought 
from the Estuary Habitat Restoration Program as from the Corps, as in-
kind and with the entire amount originating from a Federal funding 
source.
    D. Include the name of the organization as well as the title of the 
individual signing the Non-Federal Sponsor certification.
    E. If submitting a proposal electronically, a hard copy of the 
Letter of Assurance and Certification may be submitted if its is post-
marked by the closing date for this announcement and the electronic 
submission has the text of the Letter of Assurance and Certification 
with an indication of the date signed and name/title organization of 
the individual signing these documents. The Letter of Assurance should 
be addressed to ``Chairman, Estuary Habitat Restoration Council'' and 
sent to the address in Section X for hard copy submittals.
    F. In the project description section of the project application 
form the phrase ``Estimated life cycle of the project'' refers to the 
functional life of the project. As an example a wetland may fill with 
sediment over time and its functionality diminished. The ``life-cycle'' 
would be the number of years until the project no longer provided the 
original benefits.
    G. The proposed project should only be described as innovative if 
the Non-Federal Sponsor is requesting the special cost sharing for the 
incremental costs of including testing of or a demonstration of an 
innovative technology as defined in the application form.

X. Application Process

    Proposal application forms are available at http://www/usace/
army/mil/civilworks/cecwp/estuary_act/ or by contacting Ms. Ellen 
Cummings, Headquarters, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Washington, DC 
20314-1000, (202) 761-4750, e-mail: Ellen.M.Cummings@usace.army.mil; 
or Chip Smith, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil 
Works), Washington, DC (703) 693-3655, e-mail: 
Chip.Smith@HODA.Army.Mil. The application form has been approved by OMB 
in compliance with the Paper Work Reduction Act and is OMB No. 0710-
0014 with an expiration date of 4/30/2008. Electronic submissions are 
preferred and should be sent to estuary. restoration@usace.army.mil 
Multiple e-mail messages may be required to ensure successful receipt 
of the files exceed 4MB is size. Questions may also be sent to the same 
e-mail address. Hard copy submissions may be sent or delivered to 
HQUSACE, ATTN; CECW-PC, 7701 Telegraph Road 3D72, Alexandria, 
VA 22315-3860. The part of the nomination prepared to address the 
``proposal elements'' portion of the application should be no more than 
twelve double-spaced pages, using a 10 or 12-point font. Paper copies 
should be printed on one side only of an 8.5 in. x 11 in. page and not 
bound. Only one hard copy is required. A PC-compatible floppy risk or 
CD-ROM in either Microsoft Word or WordPerfect format may accompany the 
paper copy. Nominations for multiple projects submitted by the same 
applicant must be submitted in separate e-mail messages and/or 
envelopes.

Brenda S. Bowen,
Army Federal Register Liaison Officer.
[FR Doc. 06-5927 Filed 6-29-06; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3710-92-M