Notice of Solicitation for Estuary Habitat Restoration Program, 2517-2522 [2010-681]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 75, No. 10 / Friday, January 15, 2010 / Notices The above rates are effective for services rendered on or after October 1, 2009. Dated: December 18, 2009. Patricia Toppings, OSD Federal Register Liaison Officer, Department of Defense. [FR Doc. 2010–598 Filed 1–14–10; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 5001–06–P DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE Department of the Army; Army Corps of Engineers Notice of Intent To Prepare a Joint Environmental Impact Statement and Environmental Impact Report for the Lower San Joaquin River Feasibility Study AGENCY: Department of the Army, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; DOD. ACTION: Notice of intent. The action being taken is the preparation of a joint environmental impact statement/environmental impact report (EIS/EIR) for the Lower San Joaquin River Feasibility Study (LSJRFS). The EIS/EIR will be prepared in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) will serve as lead agency for compliance with NEPA, and the San Joaquin Area Flood Control Agency (SJAFCA) will serve as lead agency for compliance with CEQA. The LSJRFS will evaluate alternatives, including a locally preferred plan, for providing flood damage reduction and ecosystem restoration along the lower (northern) portion of the San Joaquin River system in the Central Valley of California. The approximate area of the proposed action and analysis is identified in Figure 1. DATES: Written comments regarding the scope of the environmental analysis should be received at (see ADDRESSES) by February 15, 2010. ADDRESSES: Written comments concerning this study and requests to be included on the LSJRFS mailing list should be submitted to Mr. Doug Edwards, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District, Attn: Planning Division (CESPK–PD–R), 1325 J Street, Sacramento, CA 95814. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. Doug Edwards via telephone at (916) 557–7062, e-mail at Douglas.M.Edwards@usace.army.mil, or regular mail at (see ADDRESSES). SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: jlentini on DSKJ8SOYB1PROD with NOTICES SUMMARY: VerDate Nov<24>2008 17:34 Jan 14, 2010 Jkt 220001 1. Proposed Action. USACE is preparing an EIS/EIR to analyze the environmental impacts associated with a range of alternatives for providing flood damage reduction and ecosystem restoration along the lower (northern) portion of the San Joaquin River system (Figure 1). 2. Alternatives. The EIS/EIR will address an array of alternatives for providing flood risk management alternatives that are intended to reduce flood risk within the project area. Alternatives analyzed during the investigation may include, but are not limited to, a combination of one or more of the following flood damage reduction measures: adding, modifying, and/or reregulating storage on major tributaries; new transitory storage within flood plains, increasing conveyance by raising levees; widening channels and floodway areas; dredging; and constructing or modifying weirs and bypasses; and various floodplain management measures. Ecosystem restoration measures may include, but are not limited to, restoring riparian, wetland, and floodplain habitats, and/or constructing setback levees for habitat restoration. 3. Scoping Process. a. A public scoping meeting will be held to present an overview of the LSJRFS and the EIS/EIR process, and to afford all interested parties with an opportunity to provide comments regarding the scope of analysis and potential alternatives. The public scoping meeting will be held at the University of Pacific, Regent’s Dining Room, 3601 Pacific Avenue, Stockton, CA on January 27, 2010, from 6–8 p.m. b. Potentially significant issues to be analyzed in depth in the EIS/EIR include project specific and cumulative effects on hydraulics, wetlands and other waters of the U.S., vegetation and wildlife resources, special-status species, esthetics, cultural resources, recreation, land use, fisheries, water quality, air quality, and transportation. c. USACE is consulting with the State Historic Preservation Officer to comply with the National Historic Preservation Act and with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service to comply with the Endangered Species Act. USACE is also coordinating with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to comply with the Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act. d. A 45-day public review period will be provided for all interested parties individuals and agencies to review and comment on the draft EIS/EIR. All interested parties are encouraged to respond to this notice and provide a PO 00000 Frm 00043 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 2517 current address if they wish to be notified of the draft EIS/EIR circulation. 4. Availability. The draft EIS/EIR is currently scheduled to be available for public review and comment in 2014. Dated: December 29, 2009. Thomas Chapman, COL, EN Commanding. [FR Doc. 2010–686 Filed 1–14–10; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3720–58–P DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE Department of the Army; Corps of Engineers Notice of Solicitation for Estuary Habitat Restoration Program AGENCY: Department of the Army, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, DoD. ACTION: Notice of solicitation for project applications. SUMMARY: Congress has appropriated limited funds to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for implementation of 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:// www.usace.army.mil/CECW/ERA/ Pages/home.aspx). On behalf of the Estuary Habitat Restoration Council (Council) the Corps is soliciting proposals for estuary habitat restoration projects. The Council requests that all proposals address the potential effects of sea level change and other impacts related to climate change on the viability of the proposed restoration. This may take the form of considering climate change in the planning, design, siting, and construction of the project, or in testing new restoration technologies that may help to alleviate effects of climate change. 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 may be implemented in accordance with a cost-share agreement with the Corps; or a cooperative agreement with the Corps or NOAA, subject to availability of funds. In addition to this solicitation and the application form, a Supplemental Guide for Prospective Applicants is available at: http://www.usace.army.mil/CECW/ E:\FR\FM\15JAN1.SGM 15JAN1 2518 Federal Register / Vol. 75, No. 10 / Friday, January 15, 2010 / Notices jlentini on DSKJ8SOYB1PROD with NOTICES ERA/Pages/pps.aspx and http:// era.noaa.gov/. DATES: Proposals must be received on or before March 16, 2010. ADDRESSES: Ms. Jenni Wallace, NOAA Restoration Center, SSMC3 F/HC3 Room 14730, 1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ms. Jenni Wallace, (301) 713–0174 x183, e-mail: Jenni.Wallace@noaa.gov or Ms. Ellen Cummings, (202) 761–4750, e-mail: Ellen.M.Cummings@usace.army.mil. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: I. Introduction Under the Estuary Habitat Restoration Program, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), Department of the Interior (acting through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Environmental Protection Agency, and Department of Agriculture are authorized to carry out estuary habitat restoration projects. The Estuary Habitat Restoration Council (Council) is responsible for soliciting, reviewing and evaluating project proposals. The agencies 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 administered. The Strategy was published in the Federal Register (67 FR 71942) on December 3, 2002. It is also accessible at http:// www.usace.army.mil/CECW/ERA/ Pages/home.aspx 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, an 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 VerDate Nov<24>2008 17:34 Jan 14, 2010 Jkt 220001 close proximity to the connection with the open sea). In the Great Lakes, riparian and nearshore areas adjacent to the mouths of creek or rivers entering the Great Lakes 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 and should include consideration of potential changes in future conditions due to climate change. Eligible habitat restoration activities include reestablishment 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 by altering conditions so they are less conducive to the 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). 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, PO 00000 Frm 00044 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 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. The Council recognizes that water quality issues can impact estuary habitat restoration efforts. However, this solicitation is intended to fund on-theground habitat restoration projects that will have significant and tangible ecological impacts. Projects dealing only with water quality improvement measures are not eligible. Ineligible projects include, but are not limited to, wastewater treatment plant upgrades, combined sewer outfalls, and non-point source pollution projects such as replacement of failing septic systems, implementation of farm waste management plans, and stormwater management projects. Other examples of activities that would not qualify would be restoration of an oyster bed with significant areas 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. 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 agency. A non-governmental 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, E:\FR\FM\15JAN1.SGM 15JAN1 jlentini on DSKJ8SOYB1PROD with NOTICES Federal Register / Vol. 75, No. 10 / Friday, January 15, 2010 / Notices 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 in most cases. The exception to this is when the project deals with pilot testing or demonstrating an innovative technology or approach. In the latter case, the Federal share shall be 85 percent of the incremental additional cost of pilot testing or demonstration of an innovative technology or approach having the potential for improved costeffectiveness. Innovative technology or approach are 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. Applicants must justify in the proposal why a particular project is innovative. In addition, the Council has final say as to whether a proposed project is innovative. The difference in the cost of the project related to the use of the innovative technique or approach must be clearly described. Please refer to the Supplemental Guidance for Prospective Applicants for an example of how to calculate the cost share for an innovative technology/approach application. Prior to initiation of a project, the Non-Federal Sponsor must enter into an agreement with the funding agency in which the Non-Federal Sponsor agrees to provide its share of the project cost; including necessary lands, easements, rights-of-way, and relocations and longterm maintenance. 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 receive credit for services and in-kind contributions toward its share of the project cost, including cost shared monitoring. Adaptive management will be a non-Federal responsibility; it will not be cost shared. 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 programs but not to exceed the VerDate Nov<24>2008 17:34 Jan 14, 2010 Jkt 220001 Federal estimate of the cost of activity. The Non-Federal Sponsor shall also have a long-term responsibility for all costs associated with operating, maintaining, replacing, repairing, and rehabilitating these projects. 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 agency signing the cost-share agreement or cooperative agreement, 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 those other Federal funds may be used toward the project but will not be considered in determining the non-Federal share in relation to any Federal Estuary Habitat Restoration Program funds. 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 prior six dams is creditable as part of the non-Federal share of the project for removal of the remaining four dams. If a Corps cost-share agreement is required, funds will not be transferred to the Non-Federal Sponsor. Instead, the Corps will use the funds to implement (construct) some portion of the proposed project as well as cover its management responsibilities. If the project meets the Corps conditions for implementation under a cooperative agreement or if NOAA funds a project, funds will be transferred to the NonFederal Sponsor under a cooperative agreement. In all cases the funding agencies will use the planning, evaluation, and design products provided by the applicant to the extent possible. The Federal funding agency 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 PO 00000 Frm 00045 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 2519 desired benefits. Corps activities related to implementation of projects under this authority 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. The Non-Federal Sponsor should coordinate with the appropriate Corps district office during preparation of the proposal to obtain an estimate of the funds required and other available information which may improve the proposal. Information on district locations and boundaries may be found at http://www.usace.army.mil/about/ Pages/Locations.aspx. If additional assistance regarding the Corps process or contacts is required please contact Ms. Cummings (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section). V. Funding Availability Limited funds have been appropriated for implementation of projects under the Estuary Habitat Restoration Program. The Council will only accept proposals that request at least $100,000 and no more than $1,000,000 from this program. Projects will be funded subject to the availability of funds. 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 agreement (See PROJECT SPONSOR AND COST SHARING, Section IV). Projects selected for funding must be capable of producing the ecosystem benefits described in the proposal in the absence of Federal funding beyond that provided in the cost-share or cooperative 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. Each agency will score and rank the proposals; the five agencies will use these rankings as the basis for a consolidated recommendation to the Council. The recommendation will include indications as to which agency should fund a project, NOAA or the Corps. The Council will consider the 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. E:\FR\FM\15JAN1.SGM 15JAN1 2520 Federal Register / Vol. 75, No. 10 / Friday, January 15, 2010 / Notices 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. Project proposals should clearly address the criteria set forth under the following four subsections: Initial Screening of Project Proposals (VII.A.); Evaluation of Project Proposals (VII.B.); Priority Elements (VII.C.); and Other Factors (VII.D.). jlentini on DSKJ8SOYB1PROD with NOTICES 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. Proposed projects must not include excluded activities as discussed in Section III above. Additionally, the letter of assurance must indicate that the primary property owner and the party responsible for long-term maintenance have reviewed and support the proposal. Proposals that do not meet all of these initial screening criteria will not be evaluated further. To be accepted the proposal must: (1) Originate from a Non-Federal Sponsor (section 104(b)); (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, State, or regional 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 post-construction monitoring plan that is consistent with standards developed by NOAA under section 104(c)(2)(C). The standards are available at: http:// www.usace.army.mil/CECW/ERA/ Pages/monitor_db.aspx and http:// era.noaa.gov/htmls/era/ era_monitoring.html, or from the contacts listed in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section. Minimum monitoring requirements include monitoring over a period of five years VerDate Nov<24>2008 17:34 Jan 14, 2010 Jkt 220001 post-construction 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. Reviewers will assign scores to applications ranging from 0 to 100 points based on the evaluation criteria and respective weights specified below. Applications that best address these criteria will be the most competitive. The following criteria are listed in order of relative importance with the assigned points used in evaluation. If the reviewers find that a response to any of the first four criteria is not included in the proposal, or not adequate, 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 (15 points)— Proposals will be evaluated based on the extent of proposed habitat restoration activities and the type(s) of habitat(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 and adaptation to climate change, (b) Benefits for Federally listed threatened or endangered 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. PO 00000 Frm 00046 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 (2) Cost-Effectiveness (15 points)— Reviewers will evaluate the relationship between estimated project costs, including the costs of remaining planning, design, construction, required lands, and monitoring, 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, stream miles opened to fish passage, 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 through time will be considered. For example, will the area be maintained as a wetland, or allowed to erode or become upland? Is the project designed to adapt to climate change and potential changes in sea level? 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 project goals. 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 if it addresses scarcity, increases limiting habitat, or improves or increases biodiversity) importance. (3) Technical Feasibility (15 points)— 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 succeed. Consideration will also be given to: (a) Potential success of restoration techniques, based on a history of successful implementation in field or pilot projects, and ability to adapt to climate change and potential changes in sea level, (b) Implementation schedule, (c) Expected length of time before success can be demonstrated, (d) Proposed corrective actions using monitoring information, (e) Project management plans, and (f) Experience and qualifications of project personnel. E:\FR\FM\15JAN1.SGM 15JAN1 jlentini on DSKJ8SOYB1PROD with NOTICES Federal Register / Vol. 75, No. 10 / Friday, January 15, 2010 / Notices (4) Scientific Merit (15 points)— Reviewers will evaluate the extent to which the project design 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 has a good chance of meeting project goals and achieving long-term sustainability. (5) Agency Coordination (10 points)— 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 are: (a) The State, Federal, and local agencies involved in developing the 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 (10 points)— 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 a Memorandum of Understanding, between/among the partners as part of the project? Also important is the extent to which the project creates an opportunity for longterm partnerships among public and private entities. (7) Monitoring Plan (10 points)— VerDate Nov<24>2008 17:34 Jan 14, 2010 Jkt 220001 Reviewers will consider the following factors in evaluating the quality of the monitoring plan: (a) Linkage between the monitoring methods and the project goals, including accomplishment targets, (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) Frequency and timing of measurements, and location to be sampled (at a minimum, one functional and one structural parameter must be measured), (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 post-construction. (8) Level of Contribution (5 points)— Reviewers will consider the level and type (cash or in-kind) of Non-Federal Sponsor’s 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). Preference may be given to projects with the majority of the funding confirmed. (9) Multiple Benefits (3 points)— In addition to the ecosystem benefits discussed in criterion (1) above, restored estuary habitats may provide additional benefits. Among those the reviewers will consider are: flood damage reduction, protection from storm surge, adaptation to climate change, water quality and/or quantity for human uses, recreational opportunities, and benefits to commercial fisheries. (10) Supports Regional Restoration Goals (1 point)— Describe the project’s regional/local priority based on specific recovery planning goals or on publicly vetted restoration plans, watershed assessments, or other priority setting planning documents. (11) Part of a Federal or State Plan (1 point)— PO 00000 Frm 00047 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 2521 If the proposed project is part of a Federal or state plan, describe how the project would contribute to meeting and/or strengthening the plan’s needs, goals, objectives and restoration priorities. 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 or approach having the potential to achieve better restoration results than conventional technologies, 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, for example is the project a concept, a detailed plan, or completed design; potential delays to project implementation; and the status of real estate acquisition. Proposed projects that have completed more of the preconstruction activities will generally receive more favorable consideration. (2) Balance between large and small projects, to the extent possible given the program funding constraints. (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 additional 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 E:\FR\FM\15JAN1.SGM 15JAN1 2522 Federal Register / Vol. 75, No. 10 / Friday, January 15, 2010 / Notices receiving the list from the Council, whichever is later. The Secretary will also recommend the lead Federal agency for each project to be funded. The NonFederal Sponsor of each proposal will be notified of its status at the conclusion of the selection process. Staff from the appropriate Federal agency will work with the Non-Federal Sponsor of each selected project to develop the costsharing agreements and schedules for project implementation. jlentini on DSKJ8SOYB1PROD with NOTICES IX. Structure and Content of Application Submission Each application should include: lll PART I questions completed (see Project Application) lll Project description organized according to the Project Application, including descriptions of: lll how regional habitat trends were considered in developing the project proposal lll expected ecosystem benefits, their significance/importance, when the benefits will be realized, and the project’s expected lifetime lll the roles and contributions of project partners lll how the long-term operation and maintenance of the project will be handled lll Monitoring plan specifying at least one structural and one functional parameter to be measured and that monitoring will occur for five years postconstruction lll Name and link to Federal or State restoration plan the project will address lll Detailed budget broken out by object class (see Supplemental Guidance for Prospective Applicants for more detail on creating a budget, including a budget table template and example narrative) lll Justification for an innovative project. If an applicant feels their project could be considered innovative, they should develop two budgets—one considering it innovative and one considering it as a standard project lll Map showing the project site and key features lll Description of compliance activities (e.g., NEPA) if any are completed lll Brief resumes of key staff (no more than one page per person, not more than 5 individuals) lll Letter of assurance stating adequate personnel, funding, and authority to conduct the project lll Signed certification form (see VerDate Nov<24>2008 17:34 Jan 14, 2010 Jkt 220001 Project Application) that the project is not an excluded activity (for a list of excluded activities see section III EXCLUDED ACTIVITIES) A complete application package should be submitted in accordance with the guidelines in this solicitation. X. Application Process Proposal application forms, including Supplemental Guidance for Prospective Applicants, are available at http:// www.usace.army.mil/CECW/ERA/ Pages/pps.aspx and http://era.noaa.gov or by contacting Ms. Jenni Wallace (see ADDRESSES and FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT sections). Project proposals may be submitted electronically, by mail, or by courier. Electronic submissions are preferred. 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 November 30, 2011. Send electronic submissions to Jenni.Wallace@noaa.gov. Questions may also be sent to the same e-mail address. If it is not feasible to provide an electronic submission, hard copy submissions may be sent or delivered to Ms. Jenni Wallace, NOAA Restoration Center, SSMC3 F/HC3 Room 14730, 1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910. The part of the proposal 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 8.5 in. x 11 in. paper and may be double sided but must not be bound as multiple copies will be necessary for review. Only one hard copy is required. A PC-compatible CD– ROM in either Microsoft Word or PDF 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. 2010–681 Filed 1–14–10; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3720–58–P DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION Notice of Proposed Information Collection Requests Department of Education. SUMMARY: The Acting Director, Information Collection Clearance Division, Regulatory Information Management Services, Office of Management, invites comments on the proposed information collection AGENCY: PO 00000 Frm 00048 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 requests as required by the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995. DATES: Interested persons are invited to submit comments on or before March 16, 2010. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Section 3506 of the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. Chapter 35) requires that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) provide interested Federal agencies and the public an early opportunity to comment on information collection requests. OMB may amend or waive the requirement for public consultation to the extent that public participation in the approval process would defeat the purpose of the information collection, violate State or Federal law, or substantially interfere with any agency’s ability to perform its statutory obligations. The Acting Director, Information Collection Clearance Division, Regulatory Information Management Services, Office of Management, publishes that notice containing proposed information collection requests prior to submission of these requests to OMB. Each proposed information collection, grouped by office, contains the following: (1) Type of review requested, e.g. new, revision, extension, existing or reinstatement; (2) Title; (3) Summary of the collection; (4) Description of the need for, and proposed use of, the information; (5) Respondents and frequency of collection; and (6) Reporting and/or Recordkeeping burden. OMB invites public comment. The Department of Education is especially interested in public comment addressing the following issues: (1) Is this collection necessary to the proper functions of the Department; (2) will this information be processed and used in a timely manner; (3) is the estimate of burden accurate; (4) how might the Department enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and (5) how might the Department minimize the burden of this collection on the respondents, including through the use of information technology. Dated: January 12, 2010. Stephanie Valentine, Acting Director, Information Collection Clearance Division, Regulatory Information Management Services, Office of Management. Office of Postsecondary Education Type of Review: New. Title: Annual Performance Report for the Historically Black Colleges and Universities Master’s Degree Program (HBCU). Frequency: Annually. E:\FR\FM\15JAN1.SGM 15JAN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 75, Number 10 (Friday, January 15, 2010)]
[Notices]
[Pages 2517-2522]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2010-681]


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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, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, DoD.

ACTION: Notice of solicitation for project applications.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: Congress has appropriated limited funds to the U.S. Army Corps 
of Engineers (Corps) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric 
Administration (NOAA) for implementation of 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://www.usace.army.mil/CECW/ERA/Pages/home.aspx). On behalf of the Estuary Habitat Restoration 
Council (Council) the Corps is soliciting proposals for estuary habitat 
restoration projects. The Council requests that all proposals address 
the potential effects of sea level change and other impacts related to 
climate change on the viability of the proposed restoration. This may 
take the form of considering climate change in the planning, design, 
siting, and construction of the project, or in testing new restoration 
technologies that may help to alleviate effects of climate change. 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 may be implemented in accordance with a 
cost-share agreement with the Corps; or a cooperative agreement with 
the Corps or NOAA, subject to availability of funds.
    In addition to this solicitation and the application form, a 
Supplemental Guide for Prospective Applicants is available at: http://
www.usace.army.mil/CECW/

[[Page 2518]]

ERA/Pages/pps.aspx and http://era.noaa.gov/.

DATES: Proposals must be received on or before March 16, 2010.

ADDRESSES: Ms. Jenni Wallace, NOAA Restoration Center, SSMC3 F/HC3 Room 
14730, 1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ms. Jenni Wallace, (301) 713-0174 
x183, e-mail: Jenni.Wallace@noaa.gov or Ms. Ellen Cummings, (202) 761-
4750, e-mail: Ellen.M.Cummings@usace.army.mil.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

I. Introduction

    Under the Estuary Habitat Restoration Program, the U.S. Army Corps 
of Engineers (Corps), Department of the Interior (acting through the 
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service), National Oceanic and Atmospheric 
Administration, Environmental Protection Agency, and Department of 
Agriculture are authorized to carry out estuary habitat restoration 
projects. The Estuary Habitat Restoration Council (Council) is 
responsible for soliciting, reviewing and evaluating project proposals. 
The agencies 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 administered. The Strategy was published in the Federal 
Register (67 FR 71942) on December 3, 2002. It is also accessible at 
http://www.usace.army.mil/CECW/ERA/Pages/home.aspx 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, 
an 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 adjacent to the mouths of 
creek or rivers entering the Great Lakes 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 and should 
include consideration of potential changes in future conditions due to 
climate change.
    Eligible habitat restoration activities include reestablishment 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 by altering conditions so they are less conducive to the 
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).
    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.
    The Council recognizes that water quality issues can impact estuary 
habitat restoration efforts. However, this solicitation is intended to 
fund on-the-ground habitat restoration projects that will have 
significant and tangible ecological impacts. Projects dealing only with 
water quality improvement measures are not eligible. Ineligible 
projects include, but are not limited to, wastewater treatment plant 
upgrades, combined sewer outfalls, and non-point source pollution 
projects such as replacement of failing septic systems, implementation 
of farm waste management plans, and stormwater management projects. 
Other examples of activities that would not qualify would be 
restoration of an oyster bed with significant areas 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.

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 agency. A non-
governmental 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,

[[Page 2519]]

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 in most cases. The exception to 
this is when the project deals with pilot testing or demonstrating an 
innovative technology or approach. In the latter case, the Federal 
share shall be 85 percent of the incremental additional cost of pilot 
testing or demonstration of an innovative technology or approach having 
the potential for improved cost-effectiveness. Innovative technology or 
approach are 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. Applicants must justify in 
the proposal why a particular project is innovative. In addition, the 
Council has final say as to whether a proposed project is innovative. 
The difference in the cost of the project related to the use of the 
innovative technique or approach must be clearly described. Please 
refer to the Supplemental Guidance for Prospective Applicants for an 
example of how to calculate the cost share for an innovative 
technology/approach application.
    Prior to initiation of a project, the Non-Federal Sponsor must 
enter into an agreement with the funding agency in which the Non-
Federal Sponsor agrees to provide its share of the project cost; 
including necessary lands, easements, rights-of-way, and relocations 
and long-term maintenance. 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 receive credit for 
services and in-kind contributions toward its share of the project 
cost, including cost shared monitoring. Adaptive management will be a 
non-Federal responsibility; it will not be cost shared. 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 programs 
but not to exceed the Federal estimate of the cost of activity. The 
Non-Federal Sponsor shall also have a long-term responsibility for all 
costs associated with operating, maintaining, replacing, repairing, and 
rehabilitating these projects. 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 agency signing the cost-share agreement or cooperative 
agreement, 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 those other Federal funds 
may be used toward the project but will not be considered in 
determining the non-Federal share in relation to any Federal Estuary 
Habitat Restoration Program funds.
    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 prior six 
dams is creditable as part of the non-Federal share of the project for 
removal of the remaining four dams.
    If a Corps cost-share agreement is required, funds will not be 
transferred to the Non-Federal Sponsor. Instead, the Corps will use the 
funds to implement (construct) some portion of the proposed project as 
well as cover its management responsibilities. If the project meets the 
Corps conditions for implementation under a cooperative agreement or if 
NOAA funds a project, funds will be transferred to the Non-Federal 
Sponsor under a cooperative agreement. In all cases the funding 
agencies will use the planning, evaluation, and design products 
provided by the applicant to the extent possible. The Federal funding 
agency 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. Corps activities related 
to implementation of projects under this authority 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. The Non-
Federal Sponsor should coordinate with the appropriate Corps district 
office during preparation of the proposal to obtain an estimate of the 
funds required and other available information which may improve the 
proposal. Information on district locations and boundaries may be found 
at http://www.usace.army.mil/about/Pages/Locations.aspx. If additional 
assistance regarding the Corps process or contacts is required please 
contact Ms. Cummings (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section).

V. Funding Availability

    Limited funds have been appropriated for implementation of projects 
under the Estuary Habitat Restoration Program. The Council will only 
accept proposals that request at least $100,000 and no more than 
$1,000,000 from this program. Projects will be funded subject to the 
availability of funds. 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 agreement (See PROJECT SPONSOR AND COST SHARING, Section IV). 
Projects selected for funding must be capable of producing the 
ecosystem benefits described in the proposal in the absence of Federal 
funding beyond that provided in the cost-share or cooperative 
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. Each 
agency will score and rank the proposals; the five agencies will use 
these rankings as the basis for a consolidated recommendation to the 
Council. The recommendation will include indications as to which agency 
should fund a project, NOAA or the Corps. The Council will consider the 
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.

[[Page 2520]]

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. Project proposals should clearly address the criteria set 
forth under the following four subsections: Initial Screening of 
Project Proposals (VII.A.); Evaluation of Project Proposals (VII.B.); 
Priority Elements (VII.C.); and Other Factors (VII.D.).

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. Proposed 
projects must not include excluded activities as discussed in Section 
III above. Additionally, the letter of assurance must indicate that the 
primary property owner and the party responsible for long-term 
maintenance have reviewed and support the proposal. Proposals that do 
not meet all of these initial screening criteria will not be evaluated 
further. To be accepted the proposal must:
    (1) Originate from a Non-Federal Sponsor (section 104(b));
    (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, State, or regional 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 post-construction monitoring plan that is consistent 
with standards developed by NOAA under section 104(c)(2)(C). The 
standards are available at: http://www.usace.army.mil/CECW/ERA/Pages/monitor_db.aspx and http://era.noaa.gov/htmls/era/era_monitoring.html, or from the contacts listed in the FOR FURTHER 
INFORMATION CONTACT section. Minimum monitoring requirements include 
monitoring over a period of five years post-construction 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. 
Reviewers will assign scores to applications ranging from 0 to 100 
points based on the evaluation criteria and respective weights 
specified below. Applications that best address these criteria will be 
the most competitive. The following criteria are listed in order of 
relative importance with the assigned points used in evaluation. If the 
reviewers find that a response to any of the first four criteria is not 
included in the proposal, or not adequate, 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 (15 points)--
    Proposals will be evaluated based on the extent of proposed habitat 
restoration activities and the type(s) of habitat(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 and adaptation to climate change,
    (b) Benefits for Federally listed threatened or endangered 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.
    (2) Cost-Effectiveness (15 points)--
    Reviewers will evaluate the relationship between estimated project 
costs, including the costs of remaining planning, design, construction, 
required lands, and monitoring, 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, stream miles 
opened to fish passage, 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 through time will be considered. For 
example, will the area be maintained as a wetland, or allowed to erode 
or become upland? Is the project designed to adapt to climate change 
and potential changes in sea level? 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 project goals. 
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 if it addresses 
scarcity, increases limiting habitat, or improves or increases 
biodiversity) importance.
    (3) Technical Feasibility (15 points)--
    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 succeed. Consideration will also 
be given to:
    (a) Potential success of restoration techniques, based on a history 
of successful implementation in field or pilot projects, and ability to 
adapt to climate change and potential changes in sea level,
    (b) Implementation schedule,
    (c) Expected length of time before success can be demonstrated,
    (d) Proposed corrective actions using monitoring information,
    (e) Project management plans, and
    (f) Experience and qualifications of project personnel.

[[Page 2521]]

    (4) Scientific Merit (15 points)--
    Reviewers will evaluate the extent to which the project design 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 has a good chance of meeting 
project goals and achieving long-term sustainability.
    (5) Agency Coordination (10 points)--
    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 are:
    (a) The State, Federal, and local agencies involved in developing 
the 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 (10 points)--
    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 a Memorandum of Understanding, 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) Monitoring Plan (10 points)--
    Reviewers will consider the following factors in evaluating the 
quality of the monitoring plan:
    (a) Linkage between the monitoring methods and the project goals, 
including accomplishment targets,
    (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) Frequency and timing of measurements, and location to be 
sampled (at a minimum, one functional and one structural parameter must 
be measured),
    (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 post-construction.
    (8) Level of Contribution (5 points)--
    Reviewers will consider the level and type (cash or in-kind) of 
Non-Federal Sponsor's 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). Preference 
may be given to projects with the majority of the funding confirmed.
    (9) Multiple Benefits (3 points)--
    In addition to the ecosystem benefits discussed in criterion (1) 
above, restored estuary habitats may provide additional benefits. Among 
those the reviewers will consider are: flood damage reduction, 
protection from storm surge, adaptation to climate change, water 
quality and/or quantity for human uses, recreational opportunities, and 
benefits to commercial fisheries.
    (10) Supports Regional Restoration Goals (1 point)--
    Describe the project's regional/local priority based on specific 
recovery planning goals or on publicly vetted restoration plans, 
watershed assessments, or other priority setting planning documents.
    (11) Part of a Federal or State Plan (1 point)--
    If the proposed project is part of a Federal or state plan, 
describe how the project would contribute to meeting and/or 
strengthening the plan's needs, goals, objectives and restoration 
priorities.

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 or approach having the potential to achieve better 
restoration results than conventional technologies, 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, for example is the project a 
concept, a detailed plan, or completed design; potential delays to 
project implementation; and the status of real estate acquisition. 
Proposed projects that have completed more of the pre-construction 
activities will generally receive more favorable consideration.
    (2) Balance between large and small projects, to the extent 
possible given the program funding constraints.
    (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 additional 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

[[Page 2522]]

receiving the list from the Council, whichever is later. The Secretary 
will also recommend the lead Federal agency for each project to be 
funded. The Non-Federal Sponsor of each proposal will be notified of 
its status at the conclusion of the selection process. Staff from the 
appropriate Federal agency will work with the Non-Federal Sponsor of 
each selected project to develop the cost-sharing agreements and 
schedules for project implementation.

IX. Structure and Content of Application Submission

    Each application should include:

------ PART I questions completed (see Project Application)
------ Project description organized according to the Project 
Application, including descriptions of:

    ------ how regional habitat trends were considered in developing 
the project proposal
    ------ expected ecosystem benefits, their significance/importance, 
when the benefits will be realized, and the project's expected lifetime
    ------ the roles and contributions of project partners
    ------ how the long-term operation and maintenance of the project 
will be handled
    ------ Monitoring plan specifying at least one structural and one 
functional parameter to be measured and that monitoring will occur for 
five years post-construction
    ------ Name and link to Federal or State restoration plan the 
project will address
    ------ Detailed budget broken out by object class (see Supplemental 
Guidance for Prospective Applicants for more detail on creating a 
budget, including a budget table template and example narrative)
    ------ Justification for an innovative project. If an applicant 
feels their project could be considered innovative, they should develop 
two budgets--one considering it innovative and one considering it as a 
standard project
    ------ Map showing the project site and key features
    ------ Description of compliance activities (e.g., NEPA) if any are 
completed
    ------ Brief resumes of key staff (no more than one page per 
person, not more than 5 individuals)
    ------ Letter of assurance stating adequate personnel, funding, and 
authority to conduct the project
    ------ Signed certification form (see Project Application) that the 
project is not an excluded activity (for a list of excluded activities 
see section III EXCLUDED ACTIVITIES)

    A complete application package should be submitted in accordance 
with the guidelines in this solicitation.

X. Application Process

    Proposal application forms, including Supplemental Guidance for 
Prospective Applicants, are available at http://www.usace.army.mil/CECW/ERA/Pages/pps.aspx and http://era.noaa.gov or by contacting Ms. 
Jenni Wallace (see ADDRESSES and FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT 
sections). Project proposals may be submitted electronically, by mail, 
or by courier. Electronic submissions are preferred. 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 
November 30, 2011. Send electronic submissions to 
Jenni.Wallace@noaa.gov. Questions may also be sent to the same e-mail 
address. If it is not feasible to provide an electronic submission, 
hard copy submissions may be sent or delivered to Ms. Jenni Wallace, 
NOAA Restoration Center, SSMC3 F/HC3 Room 14730, 1315 East-West 
Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910. The part of the proposal 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 8.5 in. x 11 in. paper and may be 
double sided but must not be bound as multiple copies will be necessary 
for review. Only one hard copy is required. A PC-compatible CD-ROM in 
either Microsoft Word or PDF 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. 2010-681 Filed 1-14-10; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3720-58-P