Cooperative Conservation Partners Initiative; Wetlands Reserve Enhancement Program, 9380-9388 [2010-4275]

Download as PDF 9380 Notices Federal Register Vol. 75, No. 40 Tuesday, March 2, 2010 This section of the FEDERAL REGISTER contains documents other than rules or proposed rules that are applicable to the public. Notices of hearings and investigations, committee meetings, agency decisions and rulings, delegations of authority, filing of petitions and applications and agency statements of organization and functions are examples of documents appearing in this section. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Commodity Credit Corporation Cooperative Conservation Partners Initiative; Wetlands Reserve Enhancement Program WReier-Aviles on DSKGBLS3C1PROD with NOTICES AGENCY: Commodity Credit Corporation and Natural Resources Conservation Service, Department of Agriculture. ACTION: Notice of request for proposals through the Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative. SUMMARY: The Chief of the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), who is Vice President of the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC), announces the availability of financial assistance funds in fiscal year (FY) 2010 for up to $50 million in the Cooperative Conservation Partnership Initiative (CCPI) and $25 million in the Wetlands Reserve Enhancement Program (WREP) through the Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative (MRBI) to eligible participants in 12-digit Hydrologic Unit Code (HUC) subwatershed(s) within the 41 designated focus areas (8-digit HUCs) in the following States: Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee, and Wisconsin. The purpose of this notice is to solicit proposals from potential partners to enter into partnership agreements with NRCS, and to inform agricultural producers and landowners of the future availability of program funds through approved partnership projects. DATES: Effective Date: The Notice of Request is effective March 2, 2010. Eligible partners may submit proposals by mail or via courier. • By mail, proposals must be postmarked by May 3, 2010. • By courier, proposals must be delivered by May 3, 2010. ADDRESSES: Written proposals should be submitted to the addresses identified VerDate Nov<24>2008 15:07 Mar 01, 2010 Jkt 220001 below, with copies to the appropriate NRCS State Conservationist, whose names and addresses are identified as an attachment to this notice. If a project is multi-State in scope, all State Conservationists in the proposed project area must be sent the proposal for review. • By mail: Gregory K. Johnson, Director, Financial Assistance Programs Division, Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW., Room 5241 South Building, Washington, DC 20250. (Note: Registered or Certified Mail to a Post Office may not be used.) • By courier: Gregory K. Johnson, Director, Financial Assistance Programs Division, Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW., Room 5241 South Building, Washington, DC 20250, Telephone: (202) 720–1845. All proposals will be accepted between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal Holidays. Please ask the guard at the entrance to the South Building to call (202) 720–1845. State Conservationists will review and comment on eligible proposals and will share them with their State Technical Committee for input and feedback. Proposals submitted via fax, email, or after the deadline date or times listed in this notice will not be considered. Proposals submitted via the grants.gov Web site will not be considered. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: • CCPI projects: Gregory K. Johnson, Director, Financial Assistance Programs Division, Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW., Room 5241 South Building, Washington, DC 20250; Telephone: (202) 720–1845; Fax: (202) 720–4264; or e-mail: MRBI– CCPI@wdc.usda.gov. Additional information regarding CCPI is available at the following NRCS Web page: http:// www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/CCPI/ • WREP projects: Andree DuVarney, Acting Director, Easement Programs Division, Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW., Room 6819 South Building, Washington, DC 20250; Telephone: (202) 720–1854; Fax: (202) 720–9689; or e-mail: MRBI– WREP@wdc.usda.gov. Additional information regarding WREP is available at the following NRCS Web page: http:// www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/WRP PO 00000 Frm 00001 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 • Monitoring and Evaluation: Mike Hubbs, Director, Ecological Sciences Division, Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW., Room 6158 South Building, Washington, DC 20250; Telephone: (202) 720–5992; Fax: (202) 720–2646; or email: Mike.Hubbs@wdc.usda.gov • MRBI Information: Information concerning MRBI can be found at the following Web page: http:// www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/mrbi/ mrbi.html • Persons with disabilities who require alternative means for communication (Braille, large print, audio tape, etc.) should contact the USDA Target Center at: (202) 720–2600 (voice and TDD). SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Paperwork Reduction Act Section 2904 of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (2008 Act) requires that the implementation of this provision be carried out without regard to the Paperwork Reduction Act, Chapter 35 of title 44, U.S.C. Therefore, the Department of Agriculture (USDA) is not reporting recordkeeping or estimated paperwork burden associated with this amendment. Background The Mississippi River Basin is a critical ecosystem within the United States. Its entire land mass, totaling 41 percent of the contiguous United States and 15 percent of North America, drains into the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico. Stretching 2,350 miles from its headwaters at Lake Itasca, Minnesota, to the mouth of the Gulf of Mexico, the Mississippi River carries an average of 436,000 tons of sediment each day. Nutrients, like nitrogen and phosphorus, contribute to both local water quality problems and the hypoxic zone in the Gulf of Mexico. To help solve these water quality problems, NRCS has developed the MRBI. Through this new initiative, NRCS and its partners will help landowners and operators in selected watersheds in the Mississippi River Basin voluntarily implement conservation systems that avoid, control, and trap nutrient runoff; protect, restore, and enhance wetlands; maintain agricultural productivity; E:\FR\FM\02MRN1.SGM 02MRN1 Federal Register / Vol. 75, No. 40 / Tuesday, March 2, 2010 / Notices improve wildlife habitat; and achieve other MRBI objectives. Within the designated focus areas in the Mississippi River Basin, NRCS announces the availability of financial assistance funds in FY 2010 for up $50 million in the CCPI and $25 million in the WREP to eligible participants through approved partnership projects in the following States: Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee, and Wisconsin. Forty-one focus areas (watersheds) have been selected by NRCS State Conservationists, with input from the State Technical Committees and State water quality agencies, to help improve water quality by reducing nitrogen and phosphorous levels in the Mississippi River Basin. The selected watersheds are listed below. Using CCPI and WREP, NRCS will leverage partner contributions and accelerate conservation assistance to improve water quality; protect, restore, and enhance wetlands; enhance wildlife habitat; and achieve other MRBI objectives. Entities interested in partnering with NRCS in the MRBI must submit separate proposals for CCPI and WREP to the addresses identified in this notice. NRCS will not accept joint CCPI and WREP proposals in FY 2010. Accordingly, an entity is encouraged to submit a proposal for each program. Proposals that integrate CCPI and WREP within a project area will receive higher 9381 priority. Entities should note in their applications that proposals have been submitted for both CCPI and WREP, when applicable. Focus Areas Eligible partners should submit complete proposals addressing the conservation objectives to be achieved in one or more 12-digit HUC subwatersheds within the designated 8digit focus area or areas. The designated focus areas listed by 8-digit HUC are below. A complete list of the smallerscale, 12-digit HUC subwatersheds within the designated 8-digit focus areas can be found at: http:// www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/mrbi/ unit_code_lists.html. DESIGNATED FOCUS AREAS FOR THE MRBI FY 2010 (8-DIGIT HUCS) Hydrologic unit code WReier-Aviles on DSKGBLS3C1PROD with NOTICES State(s) Watershed Arkansas/Missouri ....................................................................... Arkansas ..................................................................................... Arkansas ..................................................................................... Arkansas/Missouri ....................................................................... Illinois .......................................................................................... Illinois .......................................................................................... Illinois .......................................................................................... Illinois/Indiana ............................................................................. Indiana ........................................................................................ Indiana ........................................................................................ Indiana ........................................................................................ Indiana/Ohio ................................................................................ Iowa ............................................................................................. Iowa ............................................................................................. Iowa ............................................................................................. Iowa/Minnesota ........................................................................... Kentucky/Tennessee ................................................................... Kentucky ..................................................................................... Kentucky ..................................................................................... Louisiana ..................................................................................... Louisiana/Arkansas ..................................................................... Louisiana/Arkansas ..................................................................... Minnesota .................................................................................... Minnesota .................................................................................... Minnesota .................................................................................... Mississippi ................................................................................... Mississippi/Louisiana/Arkansas .................................................. Mississippi ................................................................................... Missouri/Iowa .............................................................................. Missouri ....................................................................................... Missouri ....................................................................................... Missouri/Arkansas ....................................................................... Ohio/Indiana ................................................................................ Ohio ............................................................................................. Tennessee .................................................................................. Tennessee/Kentucky ................................................................... Tennessee .................................................................................. Tennessee/Kentucky ................................................................... Wisconsin/Illinois ......................................................................... Wisconsin/Illinois ......................................................................... Wisconsin/Illinois ......................................................................... Cache ......................................................................................... Lake Conway-Point Remove ..................................................... L’Anguille .................................................................................... Lower St. Francis ....................................................................... Lower Illinois-Senachwine Lake ................................................ Upper Illinois .............................................................................. Vermillion (Upper Mississippi River sub-basin) ......................... Vermillion (Upper Ohio River sub-basin) ................................... Eel .............................................................................................. Upper East Fork White .............................................................. Wildcat ....................................................................................... Upper Wabash ........................................................................... Boone ......................................................................................... Maquoketa ................................................................................. North Raccoon ........................................................................... Upper Cedar .............................................................................. Bayou De Chien-Mayfield .......................................................... Licking ........................................................................................ Lower Green .............................................................................. Mermentau ................................................................................. Bayou Macon ............................................................................. Boeuf River ................................................................................ Middle Minnesota ....................................................................... Root ............................................................................................ Sauk ........................................................................................... Big Sunflower ............................................................................. Deer-Steele ................................................................................ Upper Yazoo .............................................................................. Lower Grand .............................................................................. North Fork Salt ........................................................................... South Fork Salt .......................................................................... Little River Ditches ..................................................................... Upper Great Miami .................................................................... Upper Scioto .............................................................................. Forked Deer ............................................................................... Obion .......................................................................................... South Fork Obion ....................................................................... Red River ................................................................................... Sugar .......................................................................................... Upper Rock ................................................................................ Pecatonica ................................................................................. Submitting Proposals Potential partners must submit a complete proposal to Gregory K. VerDate Nov<24>2008 15:07 Mar 01, 2010 Jkt 220001 Johnson, Director, Financial Assistance Programs Division, addressing all questions and items listed in the PO 00000 Frm 00002 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 08020302 11110203 08020205 08020203 07130001 07130005 07130002 05120109 05120104 05120206 05120107 05120101 07100005 07060006 07100006 07080201 08010201 05100101 05110005 08080202 08050002 08050001 07020007 07040008 07010202 08030207 08030209 08030206 10280103 07110005 07110006 08020204 05080001 05060001 08010206 08010202 08010203 05130206 07090004 07090001 07090003 appropriate subpart of this notice. Potential partners should recognize that the proposal is the only document E:\FR\FM\02MRN1.SGM 02MRN1 9382 Federal Register / Vol. 75, No. 40 / Tuesday, March 2, 2010 / Notices NRCS will use in the evaluation process. The proposal must include sufficient detail to allow NRCS to understand the partner’s priority resource concerns, objectives, and expected outcomes. Incomplete proposals and those that do not meet the requirements set forth in this notice will not be considered, and notification of elimination will be mailed to the applicant. Proposal evaluation will be based upon a competitive process and the criteria established under the appropriate CCPI or WREP proposal requirements. Proposals for CCPI and WREP must be submitted separately. To further explain how each of these watershed-based initiatives work and specify how to submit proposals for CCPI and WREP, NRCS identifies the policies and processes below. Part A: MRBI–CCPI Section 2707 of the 2008 Act established the CCPI by amending section 1243 of the Food Security Act of 1985 (16 U.S.C. 3843). The Request for Proposals contains a number of new terms and words which would normally be included in a definitions section. However, in order to reduce content and improve readability of this notice, definitions may be obtained by contacting the persons referenced in the WReier-Aviles on DSKGBLS3C1PROD with NOTICES FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section and online at: http:// www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/mrbi/ mrbi.html or http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/ programs/ccpi. CCPI is a voluntary initiative that uses the funds, policies, and processes of conservation programs under Subtitle D of Title XII of the Food Security Act, specifically the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) (7 CFR part 1466), Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP) (7 CFR part 636), and Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) (7 CFR part 1470) to deliver assistance to owners and operators of agricultural and nonindustrial private forest land. CCPI differs from CSP, EQIP, and WHIP in that the initiative is designed specifically to foster coordination with other partners, and to encourage additional non-Federal investment in natural resource conservation through the use of in-kind services or matching funds in a geographic area, such as a watershed. Fund Availability Effective on the date of this notice, NRCS announces the availability of financial assistance funds in the following programs through the MRBI– CCPI in FY 2010: • $40 million in EQIP • $5 million in WHIP VerDate Nov<24>2008 15:07 Mar 01, 2010 Jkt 220001 • 278,000 acres in CSP (approximately equivalent to $5 million) Under CCPI, partners coordinate with NRCS to provide financial and technical assistance to eligible landowners and agricultural producers to reduce nutrient loading to achieve water quality objectives and to improve wildlife habitat. Partners are not required to provide financial or technical assistance above that provided through NRCS programs, although partners that provide additional resources will be given higher priority consideration in the competitive selection process. All Federal funds made available will be paid directly to program participants through CSP and EQIP contracts and WHIP cost-share agreements. No technical assistance funds will be provided to partners through an MRBI– CCPI agreement. However, NRCS State Conservationists may consider the development of a separate funding agreement with qualifying partners for the delivery of technical services. CCPI Program Objectives Under CCPI, NRCS enters into multiyear agreements with eligible partner organizations to address conservation priorities related to agriculture and nonindustrial private forest land. Individual landowners and agricultural producers are not eligible entities and may not submit CCPI proposals, nor may they apply for program benefits through this proposal submission process. In order to receive CCPI assistance, landowners and agricultural producers must participate within a project area defined in an approved CCPI agreement and enroll in EQIP, WHIP, or CSP. Landowners and agricultural producers interested in applying must meet the eligibility requirements of the program(s) for which they are applying. Individual landowner and agriculture producer applications will be evaluated and ranked by NRCS to ensure that applications selected for funding are most likely to achieve project objectives. As part of the partnership agreements, partners may help facilitate the submission of landowner and agricultural producers’ program applications, provide additional technical or financial assistance to participating landowners and agricultural producers, including nonindustrial private forest landowners, or provide other resources as defined in the agreement. MRBI–CCPI partnership agreements are to: (1) Address conservation priorities involving agriculture and nonindustrial private forest land within the designated 8-digit PO 00000 Frm 00003 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 HUC focus areas that establish treatment needs and metrics at the 12-digit HUC scale; (2) encourage landowners and agricultural producers to cooperate in meeting applicable Federal, State, and local regulatory requirements related to production; (3) encourage landowners and agricultural producers to cooperate in the installation, monitoring, and maintenance of conservation practices; and (4) promote the development and demonstration of innovative conservation practices, delivery methods, and monitoring/evaluation of the practices. State Conservationists may provide guidance to potential partners related to resource concerns, priorities established by local working groups and State Technical Committees, and approved EQIP and WHIP conservation practices and activities for the focus areas, found at: http:// nrcs.usda.gov/programs/mrbi/ mrbi.html. State Conservationists may tailor this practice list based on the resource needs in the focus area; however, CSP will not have a modified enhancement list for MRBI–CCPI. For each of a potential partner’s proposed project areas (a single 12-digit watershed or multiple 12-digit watersheds within the designated focus area), NRCS strongly encourages the use of a ‘‘systems approach’’ to achieve conservation goals. The systems approach addresses nutrient runoff from multiple perspectives: ‘‘Avoid’’ the excess application of nutrients onto the field; ‘‘Control’’ the amount nutrient runoff from the fields into the watershed; and ‘‘Trap’’ nutrients before leaving the field. Once a project is funded, producer applications that achieve conservation goals through a ‘‘systems approach’’ will be given higher consideration in the ranking process. Under CCPI, where flexibility is needed to meet project objectives, the partner may request that program adjustments be allowed provided such policy, procedural, or technical adjustments are within the scope of the applicable programs’ statutory and regulatory program authorities. An example of a program adjustment may include expediting the applicable program ranking process in a situation where a partner has identified the landowners and agricultural producers approved to participate in the project. Other examples of adjustments may include applying flexibility in payment rate determinations, or using a single area-wide plan of operations rather individual plans of operations. Eligible Partners Eligible partners for CCPI include federally-recognized Indian tribes, State E:\FR\FM\02MRN1.SGM 02MRN1 Federal Register / Vol. 75, No. 40 / Tuesday, March 2, 2010 / Notices and local units of government, farmer cooperatives, producer associations, institutions of higher education, and other non-governmental organizations with a history of working cooperatively with landowners and agricultural producers to effectively address conservation priorities related to agriculture and nonindustrial private forest land. WReier-Aviles on DSKGBLS3C1PROD with NOTICES CCPI Applications For MRBI–CCPI, NRCS will enter into EQIP and CSP contracts or WHIP costshare agreements directly with eligible landowners and agricultural producers, including nonindustrial private forest landowners, who are participating in the project areas (12-digit subwatershed(s) within the designated 8-digit focus areas). Landowners and agricultural producers interested in participating in an approved MRBI– CCPI project may apply for approved MRBI–CCPI funds at their local USDA Service Center after the Chief announces project selection. The designated conservationist will help the landowner or agricultural producer determine which applicable programs (CSP, EQIP, or WHIP) are appropriate to apply for depending on the conservation systems or activities the producer seeks to install or perform to meet the approved partner’s project objectives. For enrollment in the MRBI–CCPI, eligible land is defined for each program in the following regulations: • EQIP: 7 CFR 1466.8(c) • CSP: 7 CFR 1470.6(b) • WHIP: 7 CFR 636.4(b) Individual applications will be evaluated and ranked by NRCS to ensure that producer applications selected for funding are most likely to achieve objectives for the single 12-digit HUC subwatershed or multiple 12-digit HUC subwatersheds within the designated 8-digit focus area. Participants may have multiple contracts through MRBI–CCPI if more than one covered program is needed to accomplish the project objectives. Proposal Requirements For consideration of a proposal submitted through MRBI–CCPI in response to this notice, a potential partner must submit five copies (8.5″ × 11″ white paper) of the written proposal and one electronic copy on CD–ROM in MS WORD or PDF. If submitting more than one project proposal (proposals for multiple 8-digit focus areas), a potential partner must submit a separate complete document for each project. The entire project proposal should not exceed 15 pages in length including maps, reference materials, or related reports. VerDate Nov<24>2008 15:07 Mar 01, 2010 Jkt 220001 The basic format for the MRBI–CCPI proposal is a narrative written response to the questions and information requested in this notice. There are no forms required or associated with this proposal process. (1) Proposal Cover and Summary: The first few pages of the proposal must include: (a) Project title. (b) Project Director/Manager name, telephone, and email address. (c) Name of lead partner entity submitting proposal and other collaborating partners. (d) Mailing address and telephone numbers for lead partner. (e) Designated 8-digit focus area and 12-digit HUC subwatershed(s), wherein the project lies, including; State(s); County(s); and Congressional District(s). Include a general location map. (f) Brief description/summary of the project and description of resource issues to be addressed as they relate to MRBI priorities and objectives. Identify the specific natural resource concerns to be addressed. (g) Description of planning already completed at the field and watershed scales that identifies conservation practices/systems needed to address nutrient concerns. (h) A list of the approved NRCS FOTG conservation practices, conservation enhancements, and conservation activity plans which will be used to address those resource concerns. (i) Proposed project start and end dates (not to exceed a period of 5 years). (j) Total budget for the project including the amount of MRBI–CCPI financial assistance being requested for the project by program by fiscal year. (2) Project Natural Resource Objectives and Actions: The proposal must include the project objectives and the natural resource concerns that will be addressed. (a) Identify and provide detail about the natural resource concern(s) to be addressed and how the proposal objectives will address those concerns. Objectives should be specific, measurable, achievable, resultsoriented, and include a time for completion. (b) For each objective, identify the actions to be completed to achieve the objective and to address the identified natural resource concern. Specify which actions are to be addressed through the project using MRBI–CCPI assistance and those being addressed through alternate non-Federal funding sources or other resources provided. (3) Detailed Proposal Criteria: Information provided in the proposal must include: PO 00000 Frm 00004 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 9383 (a) A description of the partner(s) history of working with agricultural producers to address resource issues and the conservation objectives to be achieved. (b) A detailed description of the watershed area including emphasis on treatment and metrics at the 12-digit HUC subwatershed(s) within the designated 8-digit HUC focus area covered by the proposal, conservation priorities in the area, conservation objectives to be achieved, and the expected level of participation by producers. Proposals should state whether a MRBI–CCPI proposal is integrated with a MRBI–WREP or Farm Service Agency Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), Continuous Sign-Up CRP (CCRP), Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP), or Farmable Wetlands Program (FWP) proposed or existing project, and include the name of any MRBI–WREP, CRP, CCRP, CREP, or FWP proposed project. Higher ranking may be given to integrated proposals. (c) A description of the partner(s) and the roles, responsibilities, and capabilities of the partner(s). Proposals that include resources from partners other than the lead partner must include a letter or other documentation confirming the commitment of resources. (d) A description of the project duration, plan of action, and project implementation schedule that details when the potential partner anticipates finishing the project and submitting a final report. Project proposals cannot exceed 5 years from start to completion. (e) A description of the resources (financial and technical assistance) requested from each of the available NRCS programs (EQIP, WHIP, CSP) and the non-Federal resources provided by the partner(s) that will be leveraged by the Federal contribution. As determined by the State Conservationist, a maximum of 10 percent of total financial assistance funds in a proposal may be designated for edge-of-field monitoring to address critically unmet monitoring needs in the context of an overall monitoring and evaluation plan submitted by the partner. The partner is not required to provide any specific matching of financial or technical resources toward the project; however, proposals that include or offer nonFederal resources will be given higher priority through the evaluation process. Partners need to state clearly how they intend to leverage Federal funds along with partner resources. The funding and time contribution by agricultural producers and non-industrial forest owners to implement agreed-to E:\FR\FM\02MRN1.SGM 02MRN1 WReier-Aviles on DSKGBLS3C1PROD with NOTICES 9384 Federal Register / Vol. 75, No. 40 / Tuesday, March 2, 2010 / Notices conservation systems in program contracts may not be considered any part of a match from the potential partner for purposes of MRBI–CCPI. (f) A description of the plan for monitoring, evaluating, and reporting on progress made toward achieving the objectives of the agreement. The MRBI is adopting a three-tiered monitoring and evaluation approach designed to assess environmental outcomes at the field, 12-digit, and 8-digit watershed scales. Higher priority will be given to projects that adopt this three-tiered approach where the partner can provide resources or services. Higher priority will also be given to projects that utilize environmental indicators to monitor water quality and evaluate effects of conservation practices and activities implemented through the project on a field or edge-of-field scale as well as at selected downstream monitoring points. A framework for watershed and edge-offield monitoring, including environmental indicators, can be found at: http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/ mrbi/mrbi.html. (g) Potential criteria to be used by NRCS to prioritize and rank MRBI–CCPI producer applications in the project area. Additional information regarding the process NRCS uses to evaluate and rank individual producer applications is found in each of the authorized program regulations. The potential partner should include specific producer application ranking criteria in the proposal, so that NRCS can evaluate producer applications based upon the environmental objectives of the MRBI– CCPI project. Additional guidance and examples of acceptable ranking criteria may be obtained from the State Conservationist where the project will be located. (h) An estimate of the percentage of producers, including nonindustrial private forest landowners, in the project area that are expected to participate in the project along with an estimate of the total number of producers located in the project area. Producer participation is a requirement for delivery of MRBI–CCPI program benefits. A statement on how the partner will encourage participation to increase the likelihood of project success. (i) A statement describing participation by beginning farmers or ranchers, socially disadvantaged farmers or ranchers, limited resource farmers or ranchers, and Indian tribes. (j) A listing and description of the conservation practices, conservation activity plans, conservation enhancements, and partner activities to be implemented during the project timeframe and the general sequence of VerDate Nov<24>2008 15:07 Mar 01, 2010 Jkt 220001 project implementation. Other activities to address are those technical assistance efforts undertaken by the partner and those that the partner requests NRCS to implement using eligible approved MRBI–CCPI conservation practices, conservation enhancements, and project financial assistance funding. In this section, list all the approved MRBI– CCPI conservation practices and enhancements the partner wishes NRCS to offer to producers through the MRBI– CCPI project. A national list of the approved MRBI–CCPI core and supporting practices can be accessed from http://nrcs.usda.gov/programs/ mrbi/mrbi.html; each State may have a slightly modified list. Information about these approved practices can be found in the Field Office Technical Guide at: http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/technical/ efotg/ or http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/ technical/standards/. For each conservation practice, estimate the practice extent (feet, acres, number, etc.) the partner expects producers to implement each fiscal year during the life of the project and the amount of financial assistance requested to support implementation of each practice through producer contracts. Information on eligible conservation enhancements can be found at the CSP Web site at: http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/ new_csp/csp.html. Indicate whether the project will address regulatory compliance and any other outcomes that the partner expects to complete during the project period. Describe any activities that are innovative or include outcome-based performance measures implemented by the partner. (k) A description of the amount of funds needed annually for producer contracts or agreements by eligible program (EQIP, WHIP, and CSP). This section of the proposal should include the total amount of financial assistance funds requested for each fiscal year of the project (for MRBI–CCPI multi-State projects provide the funds/acres by State) to be made available for producer contracts. (l) A description of any requested policy, procedure, and technical adjustments, by program, with explanation of why the adjustment is needed in order to achieve the objectives of the project. Ranking Considerations NRCS will evaluate proposals using a competitive process and will give a higher priority to proposals that: • Demonstrate the partner’s history of working cooperatively with landowners; • Provide for outreach to, and participation of, beginning farmers or ranchers, socially disadvantaged farmers PO 00000 Frm 00005 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 or ranchers, limited resource farmers or ranchers, and Indian tribes within the area covered by the agreement; • Facilitate the submission of landowner applications; • Integrate both WREP and CCPI within a project area; • Significantly leverage non-Federal financial and technical resources; • Coordinate with other local, State, or Federal efforts, including with Farm Service Agency program efforts (e.g., CRP, CCRP, CREP, FWP) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) funded watershed efforts (e.g. 319 projects); • Provide for matching financial or technical assistance funds to assist participants with the implementation of their EQIP and CSP contracts and WHIP cost-share agreements; • Assist the participants in meeting local, State, and Federal regulatory requirements; • Demonstrate the partner’s financial commitment to provide for water quality monitoring and evaluation of conservation practices, enhancements, and activities; • Have a high potential to achieve water quality objectives through phosphorous (P) or nitrogen (N) nutrient reduction; • Have a high potential to improve wildlife habitat; • For WHIP and EQIP applications, include multiple core and supporting practices from each practice category (avoiding, controlling, and trapping) from the State-approved MRBI–CCPI practice list; • Provide innovation in approved conservation practices, conservation methods, and delivery including outcome-based performance measures and methods; • Have a high potential to maintain agricultural productivity; • Provide evidence of a watershed planning process that: Æ Identifies nutrients (N or P) causing water quality problems and identifies their sources enabling implementation to be prioritized, Æ Identifies quantifiable project goals for field-scale nutrient management and watershed-scale nutrient load reduction, Æ Identifies conservation practices and systems to be utilized to accomplish project goals/objectives, Æ Identifies technical assistance and financial assistance needed, Æ Includes an information and education component, Æ Lists measurable interim milestones that relate to project goals, and Æ Presents criteria for evaluation and adaptive management; • Convert land from cropping systems to permanent vegetative practices when E:\FR\FM\02MRN1.SGM 02MRN1 Federal Register / Vol. 75, No. 40 / Tuesday, March 2, 2010 / Notices supported by landowners and agricultural producers as part of overall agricultural operation; • Adopt a three-tiered monitoring approach whereby the partner provides resources or services to conduct water quality monitoring activities and to evaluate the effects of conservation practices and activities implemented through the project on a field or edgeof-field scale, as well as at selected downstream monitoring points; • Complete the application of the conservation practices, systems, or activities on all of the covered program contracts or cost-share agreements in less than 5 years; • Have a high percentage of producers involved and working agricultural or nonindustrial private forest land included in the area covered by the agreement; and • Deliver high percentages of applied conservation to address water quality, water conservation, or State, regional, or national conservation initiatives. WReier-Aviles on DSKGBLS3C1PROD with NOTICES Part B: MRBI–WREP Section 2206 of the 2008 Act establishes the WREP by amending section 1237A(h) of the Food Security Act of 1985 (16 U.S.C. 3837a(h)). Under WREP, NRCS enters into agreements with eligible partners to help enhance conservation outcomes on wetlands and adjacent lands. The purpose of WREP as part of MRBI is to target and leverage resources to protect, restore, and enhance wetlands; improve wildlife habitat; and reduce nutrient loading to achieve water quality objectives through agreements with eligible partners. Eligible partners include States (including a political subdivision or agency of a State), nongovernment organizations, and Indian tribes. Fund Availability Effective on the date of this notice, the CCC announces the availability of $25 million in financial assistance funds for WREP through the MRBI in FY 2010 to eligible landowners in the designated focus areas (8-digit HUCs). WREP is administered under the Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) and is a voluntary program designed to foster coordination with partners and to encourage non-Federal investment in natural resource conservation through the use of matching funds and in-kind services. WREP partners are required to contribute a financial match of at least 5 percent of the acquisition or restoration costs toward the project. Proposals which include resources provided by additional partners will be given higher priority consideration in the selection process. Contributions VerDate Nov<24>2008 15:07 Mar 01, 2010 Jkt 220001 provided by the partners can be in the form of technical and financial assistance for the protection, restoration, and enhancement of the wetland. Partner contributions can also be used for management and monitoring activities. Additional contributions beyond the required financial match can be in-kind services or cash. Eligible Partners Under WREP, NRCS enters into multiyear agreements with eligible partners. Eligible partners for WREP include State and local units of government, Indian tribes, or nongovernmental organizations. Eligible partners should submit complete proposals addressing the conservation objectives to be achieved within 12-digit HUC subwatershed(s) within designated 8-digit HUC focus areas. Proposals that integrate wetland protection, restoration, and enhancement activities within a proposed MRBI–CCPI project area will be given higher priority consideration in the selection process. Wetland restoration and enhancement actions will be designed to maximize wildlife habitat values and water quality according to the WRP regulation, 7 CFR part 1467, and NRCS FOTG standards and specifications. Proposals must conform to the WRP guidelines for restoration and management of lands subject to a WRP easement or contract. Landowner Applications For WREP, once a project area has been approved and announced, eligible landowners may apply for WRP through their local NRCS office. The land eligibility criteria for WREP are the same as for WRP and are listed in 7 CFR part 1467.4. NRCS and the partner will assist landowners in determining whether the application is appropriate for WREP depending on the wetland protection, restoration, and enhancement activities that the applicant seeks to install or perform. In FY 2010, NRCS will make WREP funds available to eligible landowners to enroll land under a permanent easement; a 30-year easement; or on acreage owned by Indian tribes, a 30year contract. WREP financial and technical assistance is delivered to eligible landowners in approved project areas through easement acquisition, conservation program contracts, cooperative agreements, contribution agreements, or Federal contracts. Restoration may be achieved through payments to other parties. PO 00000 Frm 00006 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 9385 Proposal Requirements For consideration of a proposal submitted through MRBI–WREP, a potential partner must submit five copies (8.5″ x 11″ white paper) of the written proposal and one electronic copy on CD–ROM in MS WORD or PDF. If submitting more than one project proposal (proposals for multiple 8-digit focus areas), a potential partner must submit a separate complete document for each project. The entire project proposal should not exceed 15 pages in length including maps, reference materials, or related reports. The basic format for the WREP proposal is a narrative written response to the questions and information requested in this notice. There are no forms required or associated with the WREP proposal process. (1) Proposal Cover and Summary: The first few pages of the proposal must include: (a) Project title. (b) Project Director/Manager name, telephone, and e-mail address. (c) Name of lead partner submitting proposal and other collaborating partners. (d) Mailing address and telephone numbers for lead partner. (e) Designated 8-digit focus area and 12-digit HUC subwatershed(s), wherein the project lies, including; State(s); County(s); and Congressional District(s). Include a general location map. (f) Short general description/summary of project. (g) Potential acres to be enrolled in the project area. (h) Proposed project start and end dates (not to exceed a period of 5 years). (i) Total budget for the project including the amount of WREP financial assistance being requested for the project. (2) Project Natural Resource Objectives and Actions: The proposal must address wetland restoration, including water quality concerns, in 12digit subwatershed(s), located within the 8-digit focus areas, and the objectives of the project to address those concerns. (a) Identify and provide detail about the natural resource concern(s) to be addressed and how the proposal’s objectives will address those concerns. Objectives should be specific, measurable, achievable, resultsoriented, and include a timeframe for completion. (b) For each objective, identify the actions to be completed to achieve that objective and address the identified natural resource concern. Specify which actions are to be addressed through this E:\FR\FM\02MRN1.SGM 02MRN1 WReier-Aviles on DSKGBLS3C1PROD with NOTICES 9386 Federal Register / Vol. 75, No. 40 / Tuesday, March 2, 2010 / Notices project using WREP assistance, and which are being addressed through alternate non-Federal funding sources or other resources provided. (c) Identify the total acres that require wetland protection, restoration, and enhancement. (3) Detailed Proposal Criteria: Information provided in the proposal must include: (a) A description of the partner(s) history of working with landowners to address natural resource issues. (b) A detailed description of the 12digit subwatershed(s) within the designated 8-digit focus area covered by the proposal, including a specific watershed map which indicates the project location. Proposals should state whether an MRBI–WREP proposal is integrated with an MRBI–CCPI proposed project, and include the name of the MRBI–CCPI proposed project. (c) A description of the partner(s) and the roles, responsibilities, and capabilities of the partner(s). Proposals which include resources from partners other than the lead partner must include a letter or other documentation confirming the commitment of resources. (d) A description of the project duration, plan of action, and project implementation schedule. Project proposals cannot exceed 5 years. (e) A description of the financial assistance resources that are requested through the MRBI–WREP, and the nonFederal resources provided by the partner(s) that will be leveraged by the Federal contribution. The partner is required to contribute a financial match of at least 5 percent of the acquisition or restoration costs toward the project. Proposals that include additional nonFederal resources will be given higher priority consideration in the selection process. The partner needs to clearly state how they intend to leverage Federal funds along with partner resources. The funding and time contribution by landowners to implement agreed-to wetland restoration and enhancement practices may not be considered any part of a match from the potential partner for purposes of WREP. (f) An estimate of the percentage of potential landowners in the project area that may participate in the project along with an estimate of the total number of potential landowners located in the project area. A statement on how the partner will encourage participation to increase the likelihood of project success. (g) A statement describing participation by beginning farmers and ranchers, socially disadvantaged farmers VerDate Nov<24>2008 15:07 Mar 01, 2010 Jkt 220001 or ranchers, limited resource farmers or ranchers, and Indian tribes. (h) A description of the wetland protection, restoration, and enhancement activities to be implemented during the project timeframe, and the general sequence of implementation of the project. Activities may include those efforts undertaken by the partner and those that the partner requests NRCS to address through financial support. (i) The amount of funds needed annually for easement acquisition and wetland restoration and enhancement activities. (j) A description of how the partner will provide outreach, especially to beginning farmers or ranchers, socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers, limited resource farmers or ranchers, and Indian tribes. Ranking Considerations The appropriate State Conservationist will evaluate proposals using a competitive process and forward recommended proposals to the Chief. The Chief will give a higher priority to proposals that: • Demonstrate the partner’s history of working cooperatively with landowners; • Provide for outreach to, and participation of, beginning farmers or ranchers, socially disadvantaged farmers or ranchers, limited resource farmers or ranchers, and Indian tribes within the area to be covered by the agreement; • Facilitate the submission of landowner applications; • Significantly leverage non-Federal financial and technical resources; • Coordinate with other local, State, tribal, or Federal efforts, including with Farm Service Agency proposed or existing program efforts (e.g. CRP, Continuous Sign-Up CRP, CREP, FWP, and EPA-funded watershed efforts (e.g. 319 projects); • Assist the participants in meeting local, State, tribal, and Federal regulatory requirements; • Provide for monitoring and evaluation of the effectiveness of the restoration activities on water quality; • Have a high potential to achieve water quality objectives through phosphorous (P) or nitrogen (N) nutrient reduction; • Have a high potential to maximize habitat for migratory birds and other wetland-dependent wildlife; • Provide innovation in wetland protection, restoration, and enhancement methods and outcomebased performance measures and methods; • Provide evidence that wetland restoration and enhancement activities PO 00000 Frm 00007 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 will be completed within 2 years of closing on the easement; • Provide for matching financial or technical assistance funds to assist landowners with the implementation of the Wetlands Reserve Plan of Operations and associated contracts; and • Integrate wetland protection, restoration, and enhancement activities within a proposed MRBI–CCPI project area. Review of MRBI–CCPI and MRBI– WREP Proposals The State Conservationist(s) will review the proposals to address: • Potential cooperation or duplication of efforts with other projects or existing programs; • Adherence to, and consistency with, program regulation including requirements related to land and producer eligibility and use of approved NRCS resource concerns and conservation practices, conservation enhancements, and other program requirements; • Expected benefits for project implementation in their State(s); • Other issues or concerns the State Conservationist is aware of that should be considered by the Chief; and • A general recommendation for support or denial of project approval. Prior to submission of the proposal, potential partners are strongly encouraged to consult with the appropriate State Conservationist(s) during proposal development to obtain guidance as to appropriate resource concerns to address conservation practices, wetland restoration, enhancement activities needed, and other details of the project proposal. All proposals submitted become the property of NRCS for use in the administration of the program, may be filed or disposed of by the agency, and will not be returned to the potential partner. Once proposals have been submitted to the agency for review and ranking, there will be no further opportunity to change or re-submit the proposal document. Acknowledgement of Submission and Notifications Partners whose proposals have been selected will receive a letter of official notification from the Chief. The Chief will make the final selection for all projects based on the ranking criteria listed above. Upon notification of selection, the partner should contact the NRCS State Conservationist listed in the letter to develop the required partnership agreement and other project implementation requirements. Partner E:\FR\FM\02MRN1.SGM 02MRN1 9387 Federal Register / Vol. 75, No. 40 / Tuesday, March 2, 2010 / Notices submissions of proposals not selected will be notified by mail. Withdrawal of Proposals Partner proposals may be withdrawn by written notice to the Chief or State Conservationist at any time prior to selection. Partnership Agreements NRCS will enter a partnership agreement with a selected partner who has an approved project as the mechanism for participation in MRBI– CCPI or MRBI–WREP. At a minimum, the partnership agreement will address: • The role of the partner; • The role of NRCS; • The responsibilities of the partner relating to water quality monitoring and evaluation if included as part of the proposal. NRCS reserves the right to negotiate with the partners on refinements to the monitoring and evaluation plan to address MRBI objectives; • The format and frequency of reports (semi-annual, annual, and final) that are required as a condition of the agreement; • Plan of work and budget to identify other funding sources (if applicable) for financial or technical assistance; • The specified project schedule; and • Other requirements deemed necessary by NRCS to further the purposes of the MRBI–CCPI or MRBI– WREP project. Once a project is selected, NRCS will evaluate a project’s progress throughout the project lifecycle. NRCS will enter into a project agreement for the necessary funds agreed to for FY 2010. In proposed projects years beyond FY 2010, NRCS may obligate additional funds without further competition based on an assessment of the project’s effectiveness in achieving MRBI objectives and the availability of funds. Waiver Authority To assist in the implementation of WREP or CCPI projects, the Chief may waive the applicability of the Adjusted Gross Income Limitation on a case-bycase basis in accordance with policy and processes promulgated in 7 CFR part 1400. Such waiver requests must be submitted in writing from the program applicant, addressed to the Chief, and submitted through the local NRCS district conservationist. Signed this 23rd day of February 2010, in Washington, DC. Dave White, Vice President, Commodity Credit Corporation and Chief, Natural Resources Conservation Service. Attachment NATURAL RESOURCES CONSERVATION SERVICE STATE CONSERVATIONISTS—MRBI STATES Name Address Phone Arkansas ............................... Michael E. Sullivan ............. michael.sullivan@ar.usda.gov. William J. Gradle ................ (217) 353–6601 bill.gradle@il.usda.gov. Indiana .................................. Jane E. Hardisty ................. (317) 290–3200 jane.hardisty@inn.usda.gov. Iowa ...................................... Richard Sims ...................... (515) 284–6655 richard.sims@ia.usda.gov. Kentucky ............................... Tom Perrin ......................... (859) 224–7350 tom.perrin@ky.usda.gov. Louisiana .............................. Kevin D. Norton .................. (318) 473–7751 kevin.norton@la.usda.gov. Minnesota ............................. Jennifer Heglund ................ (651) 602–7900 jennifer.heglund@mn.usda.gov. Mississippi ............................ Homer Wilkes ..................... (601) 965–5205 homer.wilkes@ms.usda.gov. Missouri ................................ J.R. Flores .......................... (573) 876–0901 Jr.flores@mo.usda.gov. Ohio ...................................... Terry J. Cosby .................... (614) 255–2472 terry.cosby@oh.usda.gov. Tennessee ............................ Kevin Brown ....................... (615) 277–2531 kevin.brown@tn.usda.gov. Wisconsin ............................. Patricia Leavenworth .......... Federal Building, Room 3416, 700 West Capitol Avenue, Little Rock, Arkansas 72201–3228. 2118 W. Park Court, Champaign, Illinois 61821. 6013 Lakeside Boulevard, Indianapolis, Indiana 46278–2933. 693 Federal Building, 210 Walnut Street, Suite 693, Des Moines, Iowa 50309– 2180. 771 Corporate Drive, Suite 110, Lexington, Kentucky 40503–5479. 3737 Government Street, Alexandria, Louisiana 71302. 375 Jackson Street, Suite 600, St. Paul, Minnesota 55101–1854. Suite 1321, Federal Building, 100 West Capitol Street, Jackson, Mississippi 39269–1399. Parkade Center, Suite 250, 601 Business Loop 70 West, Columbia, Missouri 65203–2546. 200 North High Street, Room 522, Columbus, Ohio 43215–2478. 675 U.S. Courthouse, 801 Broadway, Nashville, Tennessee 37203–3878. 8030 Excelsior Drive, Suite 200, Madison, Wisconsin 53717. (501) 301–3100 Illinois .................................... WReier-Aviles on DSKGBLS3C1PROD with NOTICES State (608) 662–4422 pat.leavenworth@wi.usda.gov. VerDate Nov<24>2008 15:07 Mar 01, 2010 Jkt 220001 PO 00000 Frm 00008 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 9990 E:\FR\FM\02MRN1.SGM E-mail address 02MRN1 9388 Federal Register / Vol. 75, No. 40 / Tuesday, March 2, 2010 / Notices p.m., Eastern Time, Monday through Friday. [FR Doc. 2010–4275 Filed 3–1–10; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410–16–P SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Forest Service Prescott National Forest, Bradshaw Ranger District; Arizona; Bradshaw Vegetation Management Project Forest Service, USDA. Notice of intent to prepare an environmental impact statement. AGENCY: WReier-Aviles on DSKGBLS3C1PROD with NOTICES ACTION: SUMMARY: This project is a proposal to improve the health of fire adapted ecosystems while simultaneously reducing hazardous fuels on the Bradshaw Ranger District. The project area encompasses about 55,554 acres. Within the project area, the proposal is to commercially thin approximately 16,312 acres in ponderosa pine, pineoak, and mixed conifer forest types. Fuels treatments include mechanized fuel reduction on 34,445 acres of chaparral, pinyon-juniper, and oak sites and non-mechanized fuel reduction treatments on 6,242 acres of chaparral, juniper, pinyon, oak, pine, and mixed conifer sites. Prescribed fire is proposed on 44,641 acres and fuelbreak construction is proposed on 791 acres. It is expected that this project will require a site specific forest plan amendment to the Prescott National Forest Land and Resource Management Plan (1986), as amended, in order to implement treatments within Mexican Spotted Owl habitat. DATES: Comments concerning the scope of the analysis should be received within 30 days after publication of this notice in the Federal Register. The draft environmental impact statement is expected in December, 2010 and the final environmental impact statement is expected in March, 2011. ADDRESSES: Send written comments to Jodi Stevens, Bradshaw Ranger District, 344 South Cortez Street, Prescott, Arizona 86303. Comments may also be submitted by e-mail to: commentssouthwestern-prescott@fs.fed.us. Include ‘‘Bradshaw Vegetation Management’’ in the subject line of e-mail comments. Electronic comments must be submitted in Word (.doc), RichText (.rtf), or Adobe Acrobat (.pdf) format. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jodi Stevens, 928–443–8041 or jodistevens@fs.fed.us. Individuals who use telecommunication devices for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 1–800–877–8339 between 8 a.m. and 8 VerDate Nov<24>2008 15:07 Mar 01, 2010 Jkt 220001 Purpose and Need for Action: The purpose of the proposed action is to improve the health of fire adapted ecosystems while simultaneously reducing hazardous fuels. The EIS will describe existing conditions and desired conditions, analyze environmental consequences of shifting existing conditions towards desired conditions, and assist the decision maker in selecting management strategies that will achieve desired conditons. The proposed action is needed due to prominent changes in the structure and function of vegetation and fire behavior within the analysis area, and the proximity of homes and private property to these changed conditions. The changes in vegetation and fire behavior are a result of aggressive fire suppression over the past several decades. One of the most effective ways to protect communities is to create defensible fuel profile zones both adjacent to homes and private property and on adjacent public lands. Proposed Action: The Prescott National Forest proposes to commercially thin approximately 16,312 acres in ponderosa pine, pineoak, and mixed conifer forest types. Proposed fuels treatments include mechanized fuel reduction on 34,445 acres of chaparral, pinyon-juniper, and oak sites, and non-mechanized fuel reduction treatments on 6,242 acres of chaparral, juniper, pinyon, oak, pine, and mixed conifer sites. Prescribed fire is proposed on 44,641 acres and fuelbreak construction is proposed on 791 acres. The project area is located to the southeast, south, southwest, west and northwest of the city of Prescott. Implementation of this proposed project could begin as early as June 1, 2011. Responsible Official The Responsible Official for this project is the Forest Supervisor, Prescott National Forest, Prescott, Arizona. Nature of Decision To Be Made The Forest Service will evaluate the proposed action and alternatives to the proposed action. After reviewing the proposed action, the alternatives, the environmental analysis, and considering public comment, the Forest Supervisor will reach a decision that is in accordance with the purpose and need for this project. The decision will include a description of activities that will be implemented. Issues identified as being outside the scope of this proposal (such as grazing cattle on the PO 00000 Frm 00009 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 Forest or the need for additional recreation opportunities) will not be addressed in this planning effort. Scoping Process This notice of intent initiates the scoping process, which guides the development of the environmental impact statement. It is important that reviewers provide their comments at such times and in such manner that they are useful to the agency’s preparation of the environmental impact statement. Therefore, comments should be provided prior to the close of the comment period and should clearly articulate the reviewer’s concerns and be as specific as possible. There will be a public scoping meeting on Thursday, February 25, 2010 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Arizona Time. This meeting will be held at the Mackin Building at the Prescott Rodeo Grounds, 840 Rodeo Drive, Prescott, AZ, 86305. Scoping letters will be mailed to individuals and entities who have identified themselves as interested publics regarding proposed actions on the Prescott National Forest. Additionally, scoping input will be requested through a publication in the Prescott Courier, the newspaper of local circulation in the proposed project area. Dated: February 18, 2010. Reta Laford, Acting Forest Supervisor, Prescott National Forest. [FR Doc. 2010–3965 Filed 3–1–10; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410–11–M AGENCY FOR INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT Board for International Food and Agricultural Development; One Hundred and Fifty-Ninth Meeting; Notice of Meeting Pursuant to the Federal Advisory Committee Act, notice is hereby given of the one hundred and fifty-ninth meeting of the Board for International Food and Agricultural Development (BIFAD). The meeting will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on March 3, 2010 at the National Press Club located at 529 14th St., NW., Washington, DC. ‘‘Higher Education: A Critical Partner in Global Agricultural Development’’ will be the central theme of BIFAD’s initiatives and the March meeting. Dr. Robert Easter, Chairman of BIFAD, will preside over the proceedings. Dr. Easter is Interim Chancellor for the University of Illinois at UrbanaChampaign. The confirmation of Dr. Rajiv Shah as USAID’s new administrator will define the work of BIFAD, consistent with E:\FR\FM\02MRN1.SGM 02MRN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 75, Number 40 (Tuesday, March 2, 2010)]
[Notices]
[Pages 9380-9388]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2010-4275]


========================================================================
Notices
                                                Federal Register
________________________________________________________________________

This section of the FEDERAL REGISTER contains documents other than rules 
or proposed rules that are applicable to the public. Notices of hearings 
and investigations, committee meetings, agency decisions and rulings, 
delegations of authority, filing of petitions and applications and agency 
statements of organization and functions are examples of documents 
appearing in this section.

========================================================================


Federal Register / Vol. 75, No. 40 / Tuesday, March 2, 2010 / 
Notices

[[Page 9380]]



DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Commodity Credit Corporation


Cooperative Conservation Partners Initiative; Wetlands Reserve 
Enhancement Program

AGENCY: Commodity Credit Corporation and Natural Resources Conservation 
Service, Department of Agriculture.

ACTION: Notice of request for proposals through the Mississippi River 
Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative.

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

SUMMARY: The Chief of the Natural Resources Conservation Service 
(NRCS), who is Vice President of the Commodity Credit Corporation 
(CCC), announces the availability of financial assistance funds in 
fiscal year (FY) 2010 for up to $50 million in the Cooperative 
Conservation Partnership Initiative (CCPI) and $25 million in the 
Wetlands Reserve Enhancement Program (WREP) through the Mississippi 
River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative (MRBI) to eligible 
participants in 12-digit Hydrologic Unit Code (HUC) subwatershed(s) 
within the 41 designated focus areas (8-digit HUCs) in the following 
States: Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, 
Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee, and Wisconsin. The 
purpose of this notice is to solicit proposals from potential partners 
to enter into partnership agreements with NRCS, and to inform 
agricultural producers and landowners of the future availability of 
program funds through approved partnership projects.

DATES: Effective Date: The Notice of Request is effective March 2, 
2010.
    Eligible partners may submit proposals by mail or via courier.
     By mail, proposals must be postmarked by May 3, 2010.
     By courier, proposals must be delivered by May 3, 2010.

ADDRESSES: Written proposals should be submitted to the addresses 
identified below, with copies to the appropriate NRCS State 
Conservationist, whose names and addresses are identified as an 
attachment to this notice. If a project is multi-State in scope, all 
State Conservationists in the proposed project area must be sent the 
proposal for review.
     By mail: Gregory K. Johnson, Director, Financial 
Assistance Programs Division, Department of Agriculture, Natural 
Resources Conservation Service, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW., Room 
5241 South Building, Washington, DC 20250. (Note: Registered or 
Certified Mail to a Post Office may not be used.)
     By courier: Gregory K. Johnson, Director, Financial 
Assistance Programs Division, Department of Agriculture, Natural 
Resources Conservation Service, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW., Room 
5241 South Building, Washington, DC 20250, Telephone: (202) 720-1845. 
All proposals will be accepted between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday 
through Friday, except Federal Holidays. Please ask the guard at the 
entrance to the South Building to call (202) 720-1845.
    State Conservationists will review and comment on eligible 
proposals and will share them with their State Technical Committee for 
input and feedback. Proposals submitted via fax, email, or after the 
deadline date or times listed in this notice will not be considered. 
Proposals submitted via the grants.gov Web site will not be considered.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:  CCPI projects: Gregory K. 
Johnson, Director, Financial Assistance Programs Division, Department 
of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service, 1400 
Independence Avenue, SW., Room 5241 South Building, Washington, DC 
20250; Telephone: (202) 720-1845; Fax: (202) 720-4264; or e-mail: MRBI-CCPI@wdc.usda.gov. Additional information regarding CCPI is available 
at the following NRCS Web page: http:[sol][sol]www.nrcs.usda.gov/
programs/CCPI/
     WREP projects: Andree DuVarney, Acting Director, Easement 
Programs Division, Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources 
Conservation Service, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW., Room 6819 South 
Building, Washington, DC 20250; Telephone: (202) 720-1854; Fax: (202) 
720-9689; or e-mail: MRBI-WREP@wdc.usda.gov. Additional information 
regarding WREP is available at the following NRCS Web page: 
http:[sol][sol]www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/WRP
     Monitoring and Evaluation: Mike Hubbs, Director, 
Ecological Sciences Division, Department of Agriculture, Natural 
Resources Conservation Service, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW., Room 
6158 South Building, Washington, DC 20250; Telephone: (202) 720-5992; 
Fax: (202) 720-2646; or email: Mike.Hubbs@wdc.usda.gov
     MRBI Information: Information concerning MRBI can be found 
at the following Web page: http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/mrbi/mrbi.html
     Persons with disabilities who require alternative means 
for communication (Braille, large print, audio tape, etc.) should 
contact the USDA Target Center at: (202) 720-2600 (voice and TDD).

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Paperwork Reduction Act

    Section 2904 of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 
(2008 Act) requires that the implementation of this provision be 
carried out without regard to the Paperwork Reduction Act, Chapter 35 
of title 44, U.S.C. Therefore, the Department of Agriculture (USDA) is 
not reporting recordkeeping or estimated paperwork burden associated 
with this amendment.

Background

    The Mississippi River Basin is a critical ecosystem within the 
United States. Its entire land mass, totaling 41 percent of the 
contiguous United States and 15 percent of North America, drains into 
the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico. Stretching 2,350 miles 
from its headwaters at Lake Itasca, Minnesota, to the mouth of the Gulf 
of Mexico, the Mississippi River carries an average of 436,000 tons of 
sediment each day. Nutrients, like nitrogen and phosphorus, contribute 
to both local water quality problems and the hypoxic zone in the Gulf 
of Mexico.
    To help solve these water quality problems, NRCS has developed the 
MRBI. Through this new initiative, NRCS and its partners will help 
landowners and operators in selected watersheds in the Mississippi 
River Basin voluntarily implement conservation systems that avoid, 
control, and trap nutrient runoff; protect, restore, and enhance 
wetlands; maintain agricultural productivity;

[[Page 9381]]

improve wildlife habitat; and achieve other MRBI objectives.
    Within the designated focus areas in the Mississippi River Basin, 
NRCS announces the availability of financial assistance funds in FY 
2010 for up $50 million in the CCPI and $25 million in the WREP to 
eligible participants through approved partnership projects in the 
following States: Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, 
Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee, and 
Wisconsin.
    Forty-one focus areas (watersheds) have been selected by NRCS State 
Conservationists, with input from the State Technical Committees and 
State water quality agencies, to help improve water quality by reducing 
nitrogen and phosphorous levels in the Mississippi River Basin. The 
selected watersheds are listed below. Using CCPI and WREP, NRCS will 
leverage partner contributions and accelerate conservation assistance 
to improve water quality; protect, restore, and enhance wetlands; 
enhance wildlife habitat; and achieve other MRBI objectives. Entities 
interested in partnering with NRCS in the MRBI must submit separate 
proposals for CCPI and WREP to the addresses identified in this notice. 
NRCS will not accept joint CCPI and WREP proposals in FY 2010. 
Accordingly, an entity is encouraged to submit a proposal for each 
program. Proposals that integrate CCPI and WREP within a project area 
will receive higher priority. Entities should note in their 
applications that proposals have been submitted for both CCPI and WREP, 
when applicable.

Focus Areas

    Eligible partners should submit complete proposals addressing the 
conservation objectives to be achieved in one or more 12-digit HUC 
subwatersheds within the designated 8-digit focus area or areas. The 
designated focus areas listed by 8-digit HUC are below. A complete list 
of the smaller-scale, 12-digit HUC subwatersheds within the designated 
8-digit focus areas can be found at: http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/mrbi/unit_code_lists.html.

       Designated Focus Areas for the MRBI FY 2010 (8-Digit HUCs)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                            Hydrologic
            State(s)                    Watershed            unit code
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Arkansas/Missouri..............  Cache..................        08020302
Arkansas.......................  Lake Conway-Point              11110203
                                  Remove.
Arkansas.......................  L'Anguille.............        08020205
Arkansas/Missouri..............  Lower St. Francis......        08020203
Illinois.......................  Lower Illinois-                07130001
                                  Senachwine Lake.
Illinois.......................  Upper Illinois.........        07130005
Illinois.......................  Vermillion (Upper              07130002
                                  Mississippi River sub-
                                  basin).
Illinois/Indiana...............  Vermillion (Upper Ohio         05120109
                                  River sub-basin).
Indiana........................  Eel....................        05120104
Indiana........................  Upper East Fork White..        05120206
Indiana........................  Wildcat................        05120107
Indiana/Ohio...................  Upper Wabash...........        05120101
Iowa...........................  Boone..................        07100005
Iowa...........................  Maquoketa..............        07060006
Iowa...........................  North Raccoon..........        07100006
Iowa/Minnesota.................  Upper Cedar............        07080201
Kentucky/Tennessee.............  Bayou De Chien-Mayfield        08010201
Kentucky.......................  Licking................        05100101
Kentucky.......................  Lower Green............        05110005
Louisiana......................  Mermentau..............        08080202
Louisiana/Arkansas.............  Bayou Macon............        08050002
Louisiana/Arkansas.............  Boeuf River............        08050001
Minnesota......................  Middle Minnesota.......        07020007
Minnesota......................  Root...................        07040008
Minnesota......................  Sauk...................        07010202
Mississippi....................  Big Sunflower..........        08030207
Mississippi/Louisiana/Arkansas.  Deer-Steele............        08030209
Mississippi....................  Upper Yazoo............        08030206
Missouri/Iowa..................  Lower Grand............        10280103
Missouri.......................  North Fork Salt........        07110005
Missouri.......................  South Fork Salt........        07110006
Missouri/Arkansas..............  Little River Ditches...        08020204
Ohio/Indiana...................  Upper Great Miami......        05080001
Ohio...........................  Upper Scioto...........        05060001
Tennessee......................  Forked Deer............        08010206
Tennessee/Kentucky.............  Obion..................        08010202
Tennessee......................  South Fork Obion.......        08010203
Tennessee/Kentucky.............  Red River..............        05130206
Wisconsin/Illinois.............  Sugar..................        07090004
Wisconsin/Illinois.............  Upper Rock.............        07090001
Wisconsin/Illinois.............  Pecatonica.............        07090003
------------------------------------------------------------------------

Submitting Proposals

    Potential partners must submit a complete proposal to Gregory K. 
Johnson, Director, Financial Assistance Programs Division, addressing 
all questions and items listed in the appropriate subpart of this 
notice. Potential partners should recognize that the proposal is the 
only document

[[Page 9382]]

NRCS will use in the evaluation process. The proposal must include 
sufficient detail to allow NRCS to understand the partner's priority 
resource concerns, objectives, and expected outcomes. Incomplete 
proposals and those that do not meet the requirements set forth in this 
notice will not be considered, and notification of elimination will be 
mailed to the applicant. Proposal evaluation will be based upon a 
competitive process and the criteria established under the appropriate 
CCPI or WREP proposal requirements. Proposals for CCPI and WREP must be 
submitted separately.
    To further explain how each of these watershed-based initiatives 
work and specify how to submit proposals for CCPI and WREP, NRCS 
identifies the policies and processes below.
Part A: MRBI-CCPI
    Section 2707 of the 2008 Act established the CCPI by amending 
section 1243 of the Food Security Act of 1985 (16 U.S.C. 3843). The 
Request for Proposals contains a number of new terms and words which 
would normally be included in a definitions section. However, in order 
to reduce content and improve readability of this notice, definitions 
may be obtained by contacting the persons referenced in the FOR FURTHER 
INFORMATION CONTACT section and online at: http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/mrbi/mrbi.html or http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/ccpi.
    CCPI is a voluntary initiative that uses the funds, policies, and 
processes of conservation programs under Subtitle D of Title XII of the 
Food Security Act, specifically the Environmental Quality Incentives 
Program (EQIP) (7 CFR part 1466), Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program 
(WHIP) (7 CFR part 636), and Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) (7 
CFR part 1470) to deliver assistance to owners and operators of 
agricultural and nonindustrial private forest land. CCPI differs from 
CSP, EQIP, and WHIP in that the initiative is designed specifically to 
foster coordination with other partners, and to encourage additional 
non-Federal investment in natural resource conservation through the use 
of in-kind services or matching funds in a geographic area, such as a 
watershed.

Fund Availability

    Effective on the date of this notice, NRCS announces the 
availability of financial assistance funds in the following programs 
through the MRBI-CCPI in FY 2010:
     $40 million in EQIP
     $5 million in WHIP
     278,000 acres in CSP (approximately equivalent to $5 
million)
    Under CCPI, partners coordinate with NRCS to provide financial and 
technical assistance to eligible landowners and agricultural producers 
to reduce nutrient loading to achieve water quality objectives and to 
improve wildlife habitat. Partners are not required to provide 
financial or technical assistance above that provided through NRCS 
programs, although partners that provide additional resources will be 
given higher priority consideration in the competitive selection 
process.
    All Federal funds made available will be paid directly to program 
participants through CSP and EQIP contracts and WHIP cost-share 
agreements. No technical assistance funds will be provided to partners 
through an MRBI-CCPI agreement. However, NRCS State Conservationists 
may consider the development of a separate funding agreement with 
qualifying partners for the delivery of technical services.

CCPI Program Objectives

    Under CCPI, NRCS enters into multi-year agreements with eligible 
partner organizations to address conservation priorities related to 
agriculture and nonindustrial private forest land. Individual 
landowners and agricultural producers are not eligible entities and may 
not submit CCPI proposals, nor may they apply for program benefits 
through this proposal submission process. In order to receive CCPI 
assistance, landowners and agricultural producers must participate 
within a project area defined in an approved CCPI agreement and enroll 
in EQIP, WHIP, or CSP. Landowners and agricultural producers interested 
in applying must meet the eligibility requirements of the program(s) 
for which they are applying. Individual landowner and agriculture 
producer applications will be evaluated and ranked by NRCS to ensure 
that applications selected for funding are most likely to achieve 
project objectives.
    As part of the partnership agreements, partners may help facilitate 
the submission of landowner and agricultural producers' program 
applications, provide additional technical or financial assistance to 
participating landowners and agricultural producers, including 
nonindustrial private forest landowners, or provide other resources as 
defined in the agreement. MRBI-CCPI partnership agreements are to: (1) 
Address conservation priorities involving agriculture and nonindustrial 
private forest land within the designated 8-digit HUC focus areas that 
establish treatment needs and metrics at the 12-digit HUC scale; (2) 
encourage landowners and agricultural producers to cooperate in meeting 
applicable Federal, State, and local regulatory requirements related to 
production; (3) encourage landowners and agricultural producers to 
cooperate in the installation, monitoring, and maintenance of 
conservation practices; and (4) promote the development and 
demonstration of innovative conservation practices, delivery methods, 
and monitoring/evaluation of the practices. State Conservationists may 
provide guidance to potential partners related to resource concerns, 
priorities established by local working groups and State Technical 
Committees, and approved EQIP and WHIP conservation practices and 
activities for the focus areas, found at: http://nrcs.usda.gov/programs/mrbi/mrbi.html. State Conservationists may tailor this 
practice list based on the resource needs in the focus area; however, 
CSP will not have a modified enhancement list for MRBI-CCPI.
    For each of a potential partner's proposed project areas (a single 
12-digit watershed or multiple 12-digit watersheds within the 
designated focus area), NRCS strongly encourages the use of a ``systems 
approach'' to achieve conservation goals. The systems approach 
addresses nutrient runoff from multiple perspectives: ``Avoid'' the 
excess application of nutrients onto the field; ``Control'' the amount 
nutrient runoff from the fields into the watershed; and ``Trap'' 
nutrients before leaving the field. Once a project is funded, producer 
applications that achieve conservation goals through a ``systems 
approach'' will be given higher consideration in the ranking process.
    Under CCPI, where flexibility is needed to meet project objectives, 
the partner may request that program adjustments be allowed provided 
such policy, procedural, or technical adjustments are within the scope 
of the applicable programs' statutory and regulatory program 
authorities. An example of a program adjustment may include expediting 
the applicable program ranking process in a situation where a partner 
has identified the landowners and agricultural producers approved to 
participate in the project. Other examples of adjustments may include 
applying flexibility in payment rate determinations, or using a single 
area-wide plan of operations rather individual plans of operations.

Eligible Partners

    Eligible partners for CCPI include federally-recognized Indian 
tribes, State

[[Page 9383]]

and local units of government, farmer cooperatives, producer 
associations, institutions of higher education, and other non-
governmental organizations with a history of working cooperatively with 
landowners and agricultural producers to effectively address 
conservation priorities related to agriculture and nonindustrial 
private forest land.

CCPI Applications

    For MRBI-CCPI, NRCS will enter into EQIP and CSP contracts or WHIP 
cost-share agreements directly with eligible landowners and 
agricultural producers, including nonindustrial private forest 
landowners, who are participating in the project areas (12-digit 
subwatershed(s) within the designated 8-digit focus areas). Landowners 
and agricultural producers interested in participating in an approved 
MRBI-CCPI project may apply for approved MRBI-CCPI funds at their local 
USDA Service Center after the Chief announces project selection. The 
designated conservationist will help the landowner or agricultural 
producer determine which applicable programs (CSP, EQIP, or WHIP) are 
appropriate to apply for depending on the conservation systems or 
activities the producer seeks to install or perform to meet the 
approved partner's project objectives. For enrollment in the MRBI-CCPI, 
eligible land is defined for each program in the following regulations:
     EQIP: 7 CFR 1466.8(c)
     CSP: 7 CFR 1470.6(b)
     WHIP: 7 CFR 636.4(b)
    Individual applications will be evaluated and ranked by NRCS to 
ensure that producer applications selected for funding are most likely 
to achieve objectives for the single 12-digit HUC subwatershed or 
multiple 12-digit HUC subwatersheds within the designated 8-digit focus 
area. Participants may have multiple contracts through MRBI-CCPI if 
more than one covered program is needed to accomplish the project 
objectives.

Proposal Requirements

    For consideration of a proposal submitted through MRBI-CCPI in 
response to this notice, a potential partner must submit five copies 
(8.5'' x 11'' white paper) of the written proposal and one electronic 
copy on CD-ROM in MS WORD or PDF. If submitting more than one project 
proposal (proposals for multiple 8-digit focus areas), a potential 
partner must submit a separate complete document for each project. The 
entire project proposal should not exceed 15 pages in length including 
maps, reference materials, or related reports.
    The basic format for the MRBI-CCPI proposal is a narrative written 
response to the questions and information requested in this notice. 
There are no forms required or associated with this proposal process.
    (1) Proposal Cover and Summary: The first few pages of the proposal 
must include:
    (a) Project title.
    (b) Project Director/Manager name, telephone, and email address.
    (c) Name of lead partner entity submitting proposal and other 
collaborating partners.
    (d) Mailing address and telephone numbers for lead partner.
    (e) Designated 8-digit focus area and 12-digit HUC subwatershed(s), 
wherein the project lies, including; State(s); County(s); and 
Congressional District(s). Include a general location map.
    (f) Brief description/summary of the project and description of 
resource issues to be addressed as they relate to MRBI priorities and 
objectives. Identify the specific natural resource concerns to be 
addressed.
    (g) Description of planning already completed at the field and 
watershed scales that identifies conservation practices/systems needed 
to address nutrient concerns.
    (h) A list of the approved NRCS FOTG conservation practices, 
conservation enhancements, and conservation activity plans which will 
be used to address those resource concerns.
    (i) Proposed project start and end dates (not to exceed a period of 
5 years).
    (j) Total budget for the project including the amount of MRBI-CCPI 
financial assistance being requested for the project by program by 
fiscal year.
    (2) Project Natural Resource Objectives and Actions: The proposal 
must include the project objectives and the natural resource concerns 
that will be addressed.
    (a) Identify and provide detail about the natural resource 
concern(s) to be addressed and how the proposal objectives will address 
those concerns. Objectives should be specific, measurable, achievable, 
results-oriented, and include a time for completion.
    (b) For each objective, identify the actions to be completed to 
achieve the objective and to address the identified natural resource 
concern. Specify which actions are to be addressed through the project 
using MRBI-CCPI assistance and those being addressed through alternate 
non-Federal funding sources or other resources provided.
    (3) Detailed Proposal Criteria: Information provided in the 
proposal must include:
    (a) A description of the partner(s) history of working with 
agricultural producers to address resource issues and the conservation 
objectives to be achieved.
    (b) A detailed description of the watershed area including emphasis 
on treatment and metrics at the 12-digit HUC subwatershed(s) within the 
designated 8-digit HUC focus area covered by the proposal, conservation 
priorities in the area, conservation objectives to be achieved, and the 
expected level of participation by producers. Proposals should state 
whether a MRBI-CCPI proposal is integrated with a MRBI-WREP or Farm 
Service Agency Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), Continuous Sign-Up 
CRP (CCRP), Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP), or 
Farmable Wetlands Program (FWP) proposed or existing project, and 
include the name of any MRBI-WREP, CRP, CCRP, CREP, or FWP proposed 
project. Higher ranking may be given to integrated proposals.
    (c) A description of the partner(s) and the roles, 
responsibilities, and capabilities of the partner(s). Proposals that 
include resources from partners other than the lead partner must 
include a letter or other documentation confirming the commitment of 
resources.
    (d) A description of the project duration, plan of action, and 
project implementation schedule that details when the potential partner 
anticipates finishing the project and submitting a final report. 
Project proposals cannot exceed 5 years from start to completion.
    (e) A description of the resources (financial and technical 
assistance) requested from each of the available NRCS programs (EQIP, 
WHIP, CSP) and the non-Federal resources provided by the partner(s) 
that will be leveraged by the Federal contribution. As determined by 
the State Conservationist, a maximum of 10 percent of total financial 
assistance funds in a proposal may be designated for edge-of-field 
monitoring to address critically unmet monitoring needs in the context 
of an overall monitoring and evaluation plan submitted by the partner. 
The partner is not required to provide any specific matching of 
financial or technical resources toward the project; however, proposals 
that include or offer non-Federal resources will be given higher 
priority through the evaluation process. Partners need to state clearly 
how they intend to leverage Federal funds along with partner resources. 
The funding and time contribution by agricultural producers and non-
industrial forest owners to implement agreed-to

[[Page 9384]]

conservation systems in program contracts may not be considered any 
part of a match from the potential partner for purposes of MRBI-CCPI.
    (f) A description of the plan for monitoring, evaluating, and 
reporting on progress made toward achieving the objectives of the 
agreement. The MRBI is adopting a three-tiered monitoring and 
evaluation approach designed to assess environmental outcomes at the 
field, 12-digit, and 8-digit watershed scales. Higher priority will be 
given to projects that adopt this three-tiered approach where the 
partner can provide resources or services. Higher priority will also be 
given to projects that utilize environmental indicators to monitor 
water quality and evaluate effects of conservation practices and 
activities implemented through the project on a field or edge-of-field 
scale as well as at selected downstream monitoring points. A framework 
for watershed and edge-of-field monitoring, including environmental 
indicators, can be found at: http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/mrbi/mrbi.html.
    (g) Potential criteria to be used by NRCS to prioritize and rank 
MRBI-CCPI producer applications in the project area. Additional 
information regarding the process NRCS uses to evaluate and rank 
individual producer applications is found in each of the authorized 
program regulations. The potential partner should include specific 
producer application ranking criteria in the proposal, so that NRCS can 
evaluate producer applications based upon the environmental objectives 
of the MRBI-CCPI project. Additional guidance and examples of 
acceptable ranking criteria may be obtained from the State 
Conservationist where the project will be located.
    (h) An estimate of the percentage of producers, including 
nonindustrial private forest landowners, in the project area that are 
expected to participate in the project along with an estimate of the 
total number of producers located in the project area. Producer 
participation is a requirement for delivery of MRBI-CCPI program 
benefits. A statement on how the partner will encourage participation 
to increase the likelihood of project success.
    (i) A statement describing participation by beginning farmers or 
ranchers, socially disadvantaged farmers or ranchers, limited resource 
farmers or ranchers, and Indian tribes.
    (j) A listing and description of the conservation practices, 
conservation activity plans, conservation enhancements, and partner 
activities to be implemented during the project timeframe and the 
general sequence of project implementation. Other activities to address 
are those technical assistance efforts undertaken by the partner and 
those that the partner requests NRCS to implement using eligible 
approved MRBI-CCPI conservation practices, conservation enhancements, 
and project financial assistance funding. In this section, list all the 
approved MRBI-CCPI conservation practices and enhancements the partner 
wishes NRCS to offer to producers through the MRBI-CCPI project. A 
national list of the approved MRBI-CCPI core and supporting practices 
can be accessed from http://nrcs.usda.gov/programs/mrbi/mrbi.html; each 
State may have a slightly modified list. Information about these 
approved practices can be found in the Field Office Technical Guide at: 
http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/technical/efotg/ or http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/technical/standards/. For each conservation practice, estimate the 
practice extent (feet, acres, number, etc.) the partner expects 
producers to implement each fiscal year during the life of the project 
and the amount of financial assistance requested to support 
implementation of each practice through producer contracts. Information 
on eligible conservation enhancements can be found at the CSP Web site 
at: http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/new_csp/csp.html. Indicate 
whether the project will address regulatory compliance and any other 
outcomes that the partner expects to complete during the project 
period. Describe any activities that are innovative or include outcome-
based performance measures implemented by the partner.
    (k) A description of the amount of funds needed annually for 
producer contracts or agreements by eligible program (EQIP, WHIP, and 
CSP). This section of the proposal should include the total amount of 
financial assistance funds requested for each fiscal year of the 
project (for MRBI-CCPI multi-State projects provide the funds/acres by 
State) to be made available for producer contracts.
    (l) A description of any requested policy, procedure, and technical 
adjustments, by program, with explanation of why the adjustment is 
needed in order to achieve the objectives of the project.

Ranking Considerations

    NRCS will evaluate proposals using a competitive process and will 
give a higher priority to proposals that:
     Demonstrate the partner's history of working cooperatively 
with landowners;
     Provide for outreach to, and participation of, beginning 
farmers or ranchers, socially disadvantaged farmers or ranchers, 
limited resource farmers or ranchers, and Indian tribes within the area 
covered by the agreement;
     Facilitate the submission of landowner applications;
     Integrate both WREP and CCPI within a project area;
     Significantly leverage non-Federal financial and technical 
resources;
     Coordinate with other local, State, or Federal efforts, 
including with Farm Service Agency program efforts (e.g., CRP, CCRP, 
CREP, FWP) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) funded 
watershed efforts (e.g. 319 projects);
     Provide for matching financial or technical assistance 
funds to assist participants with the implementation of their EQIP and 
CSP contracts and WHIP cost-share agreements;
     Assist the participants in meeting local, State, and 
Federal regulatory requirements;
     Demonstrate the partner's financial commitment to provide 
for water quality monitoring and evaluation of conservation practices, 
enhancements, and activities;
     Have a high potential to achieve water quality objectives 
through phosphorous (P) or nitrogen (N) nutrient reduction;
     Have a high potential to improve wildlife habitat;
     For WHIP and EQIP applications, include multiple core and 
supporting practices from each practice category (avoiding, 
controlling, and trapping) from the State-approved MRBI-CCPI practice 
list;
     Provide innovation in approved conservation practices, 
conservation methods, and delivery including outcome-based performance 
measures and methods;
     Have a high potential to maintain agricultural 
productivity;
     Provide evidence of a watershed planning process that:
    [cir] Identifies nutrients (N or P) causing water quality problems 
and identifies their sources enabling implementation to be prioritized,
    [cir] Identifies quantifiable project goals for field-scale 
nutrient management and watershed-scale nutrient load reduction,
    [cir] Identifies conservation practices and systems to be utilized 
to accomplish project goals/objectives,
    [cir] Identifies technical assistance and financial assistance 
needed,
    [cir] Includes an information and education component,
    [cir] Lists measurable interim milestones that relate to project 
goals, and
    [cir] Presents criteria for evaluation and adaptive management;
     Convert land from cropping systems to permanent vegetative 
practices when

[[Page 9385]]

supported by landowners and agricultural producers as part of overall 
agricultural operation;
     Adopt a three-tiered monitoring approach whereby the 
partner provides resources or services to conduct water quality 
monitoring activities and to evaluate the effects of conservation 
practices and activities implemented through the project on a field or 
edge-of-field scale, as well as at selected downstream monitoring 
points;
     Complete the application of the conservation practices, 
systems, or activities on all of the covered program contracts or cost-
share agreements in less than 5 years;
     Have a high percentage of producers involved and working 
agricultural or nonindustrial private forest land included in the area 
covered by the agreement; and
     Deliver high percentages of applied conservation to 
address water quality, water conservation, or State, regional, or 
national conservation initiatives.
Part B: MRBI-WREP
    Section 2206 of the 2008 Act establishes the WREP by amending 
section 1237A(h) of the Food Security Act of 1985 (16 U.S.C. 3837a(h)). 
Under WREP, NRCS enters into agreements with eligible partners to help 
enhance conservation outcomes on wetlands and adjacent lands. The 
purpose of WREP as part of MRBI is to target and leverage resources to 
protect, restore, and enhance wetlands; improve wildlife habitat; and 
reduce nutrient loading to achieve water quality objectives through 
agreements with eligible partners. Eligible partners include States 
(including a political subdivision or agency of a State), nongovernment 
organizations, and Indian tribes.

Fund Availability

    Effective on the date of this notice, the CCC announces the 
availability of $25 million in financial assistance funds for WREP 
through the MRBI in FY 2010 to eligible landowners in the designated 
focus areas (8-digit HUCs).
    WREP is administered under the Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) and 
is a voluntary program designed to foster coordination with partners 
and to encourage non-Federal investment in natural resource 
conservation through the use of matching funds and in-kind services. 
WREP partners are required to contribute a financial match of at least 
5 percent of the acquisition or restoration costs toward the project. 
Proposals which include resources provided by additional partners will 
be given higher priority consideration in the selection process. 
Contributions provided by the partners can be in the form of technical 
and financial assistance for the protection, restoration, and 
enhancement of the wetland. Partner contributions can also be used for 
management and monitoring activities. Additional contributions beyond 
the required financial match can be in-kind services or cash.

Eligible Partners

    Under WREP, NRCS enters into multi-year agreements with eligible 
partners. Eligible partners for WREP include State and local units of 
government, Indian tribes, or nongovernmental organizations.
    Eligible partners should submit complete proposals addressing the 
conservation objectives to be achieved within 12-digit HUC 
subwatershed(s) within designated 8-digit HUC focus areas. Proposals 
that integrate wetland protection, restoration, and enhancement 
activities within a proposed MRBI-CCPI project area will be given 
higher priority consideration in the selection process. Wetland 
restoration and enhancement actions will be designed to maximize 
wildlife habitat values and water quality according to the WRP 
regulation, 7 CFR part 1467, and NRCS FOTG standards and 
specifications. Proposals must conform to the WRP guidelines for 
restoration and management of lands subject to a WRP easement or 
contract.

Landowner Applications

    For WREP, once a project area has been approved and announced, 
eligible landowners may apply for WRP through their local NRCS office. 
The land eligibility criteria for WREP are the same as for WRP and are 
listed in 7 CFR part 1467.4. NRCS and the partner will assist 
landowners in determining whether the application is appropriate for 
WREP depending on the wetland protection, restoration, and enhancement 
activities that the applicant seeks to install or perform. In FY 2010, 
NRCS will make WREP funds available to eligible landowners to enroll 
land under a permanent easement; a 30-year easement; or on acreage 
owned by Indian tribes, a 30-year contract.
    WREP financial and technical assistance is delivered to eligible 
landowners in approved project areas through easement acquisition, 
conservation program contracts, cooperative agreements, contribution 
agreements, or Federal contracts. Restoration may be achieved through 
payments to other parties.

Proposal Requirements

    For consideration of a proposal submitted through MRBI-WREP, a 
potential partner must submit five copies (8.5 x 
11 white paper) of the written proposal and one electronic 
copy on CD-ROM in MS WORD or PDF. If submitting more than one project 
proposal (proposals for multiple 8-digit focus areas), a potential 
partner must submit a separate complete document for each project. The 
entire project proposal should not exceed 15 pages in length including 
maps, reference materials, or related reports.
    The basic format for the WREP proposal is a narrative written 
response to the questions and information requested in this notice. 
There are no forms required or associated with the WREP proposal 
process.
    (1) Proposal Cover and Summary: The first few pages of the proposal 
must include:
    (a) Project title.
    (b) Project Director/Manager name, telephone, and e-mail address.
    (c) Name of lead partner submitting proposal and other 
collaborating partners.
    (d) Mailing address and telephone numbers for lead partner.
    (e) Designated 8-digit focus area and 12-digit HUC subwatershed(s), 
wherein the project lies, including; State(s); County(s); and 
Congressional District(s). Include a general location map.
    (f) Short general description/summary of project.
    (g) Potential acres to be enrolled in the project area.
    (h) Proposed project start and end dates (not to exceed a period of 
5 years).
    (i) Total budget for the project including the amount of WREP 
financial assistance being requested for the project.
    (2) Project Natural Resource Objectives and Actions: The proposal 
must address wetland restoration, including water quality concerns, in 
12-digit subwatershed(s), located within the 8-digit focus areas, and 
the objectives of the project to address those concerns.
    (a) Identify and provide detail about the natural resource 
concern(s) to be addressed and how the proposal's objectives will 
address those concerns. Objectives should be specific, measurable, 
achievable, results-oriented, and include a timeframe for completion.
    (b) For each objective, identify the actions to be completed to 
achieve that objective and address the identified natural resource 
concern. Specify which actions are to be addressed through this

[[Page 9386]]

project using WREP assistance, and which are being addressed through 
alternate non-Federal funding sources or other resources provided.
    (c) Identify the total acres that require wetland protection, 
restoration, and enhancement.
    (3) Detailed Proposal Criteria: Information provided in the 
proposal must include:
    (a) A description of the partner(s) history of working with 
landowners to address natural resource issues.
    (b) A detailed description of the 12-digit subwatershed(s) within 
the designated 8-digit focus area covered by the proposal, including a 
specific watershed map which indicates the project location. Proposals 
should state whether an MRBI-WREP proposal is integrated with an MRBI-
CCPI proposed project, and include the name of the MRBI-CCPI proposed 
project.
    (c) A description of the partner(s) and the roles, 
responsibilities, and capabilities of the partner(s). Proposals which 
include resources from partners other than the lead partner must 
include a letter or other documentation confirming the commitment of 
resources.
    (d) A description of the project duration, plan of action, and 
project implementation schedule. Project proposals cannot exceed 5 
years.
    (e) A description of the financial assistance resources that are 
requested through the MRBI-WREP, and the non-Federal resources provided 
by the partner(s) that will be leveraged by the Federal contribution. 
The partner is required to contribute a financial match of at least 5 
percent of the acquisition or restoration costs toward the project. 
Proposals that include additional non-Federal resources will be given 
higher priority consideration in the selection process. The partner 
needs to clearly state how they intend to leverage Federal funds along 
with partner resources. The funding and time contribution by landowners 
to implement agreed-to wetland restoration and enhancement practices 
may not be considered any part of a match from the potential partner 
for purposes of WREP.
    (f) An estimate of the percentage of potential landowners in the 
project area that may participate in the project along with an estimate 
of the total number of potential landowners located in the project 
area. A statement on how the partner will encourage participation to 
increase the likelihood of project success.
    (g) A statement describing participation by beginning farmers and 
ranchers, socially disadvantaged farmers or ranchers, limited resource 
farmers or ranchers, and Indian tribes.
    (h) A description of the wetland protection, restoration, and 
enhancement activities to be implemented during the project timeframe, 
and the general sequence of implementation of the project. Activities 
may include those efforts undertaken by the partner and those that the 
partner requests NRCS to address through financial support.
    (i) The amount of funds needed annually for easement acquisition 
and wetland restoration and enhancement activities.
    (j) A description of how the partner will provide outreach, 
especially to beginning farmers or ranchers, socially disadvantaged 
farmers and ranchers, limited resource farmers or ranchers, and Indian 
tribes.

Ranking Considerations

    The appropriate State Conservationist will evaluate proposals using 
a competitive process and forward recommended proposals to the Chief. 
The Chief will give a higher priority to proposals that:
     Demonstrate the partner's history of working cooperatively 
with landowners;
     Provide for outreach to, and participation of, beginning 
farmers or ranchers, socially disadvantaged farmers or ranchers, 
limited resource farmers or ranchers, and Indian tribes within the area 
to be covered by the agreement;
     Facilitate the submission of landowner applications;
     Significantly leverage non-Federal financial and technical 
resources;
     Coordinate with other local, State, tribal, or Federal 
efforts, including with Farm Service Agency proposed or existing 
program efforts (e.g. CRP, Continuous Sign-Up CRP, CREP, FWP, and EPA-
funded watershed efforts (e.g. 319 projects);
     Assist the participants in meeting local, State, tribal, 
and Federal regulatory requirements;
     Provide for monitoring and evaluation of the effectiveness 
of the restoration activities on water quality;
     Have a high potential to achieve water quality objectives 
through phosphorous (P) or nitrogen (N) nutrient reduction;
     Have a high potential to maximize habitat for migratory 
birds and other wetland-dependent wildlife;
     Provide innovation in wetland protection, restoration, and 
enhancement methods and outcome-based performance measures and methods;
     Provide evidence that wetland restoration and enhancement 
activities will be completed within 2 years of closing on the easement;
     Provide for matching financial or technical assistance 
funds to assist landowners with the implementation of the Wetlands 
Reserve Plan of Operations and associated contracts; and
     Integrate wetland protection, restoration, and enhancement 
activities within a proposed MRBI-CCPI project area.

Review of MRBI-CCPI and MRBI-WREP Proposals

    The State Conservationist(s) will review the proposals to address:
     Potential cooperation or duplication of efforts with other 
projects or existing programs;
     Adherence to, and consistency with, program regulation 
including requirements related to land and producer eligibility and use 
of approved NRCS resource concerns and conservation practices, 
conservation enhancements, and other program requirements;
     Expected benefits for project implementation in their 
State(s);
     Other issues or concerns the State Conservationist is 
aware of that should be considered by the Chief; and
     A general recommendation for support or denial of project 
approval.
    Prior to submission of the proposal, potential partners are 
strongly encouraged to consult with the appropriate State 
Conservationist(s) during proposal development to obtain guidance as to 
appropriate resource concerns to address conservation practices, 
wetland restoration, enhancement activities needed, and other details 
of the project proposal.
    All proposals submitted become the property of NRCS for use in the 
administration of the program, may be filed or disposed of by the 
agency, and will not be returned to the potential partner. Once 
proposals have been submitted to the agency for review and ranking, 
there will be no further opportunity to change or re-submit the 
proposal document.

Acknowledgement of Submission and Notifications

    Partners whose proposals have been selected will receive a letter 
of official notification from the Chief. The Chief will make the final 
selection for all projects based on the ranking criteria listed above. 
Upon notification of selection, the partner should contact the NRCS 
State Conservationist listed in the letter to develop the required 
partnership agreement and other project implementation requirements. 
Partner

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submissions of proposals not selected will be notified by mail.

Withdrawal of Proposals

    Partner proposals may be withdrawn by written notice to the Chief 
or State Conservationist at any time prior to selection.

Partnership Agreements

    NRCS will enter a partnership agreement with a selected partner who 
has an approved project as the mechanism for participation in MRBI-CCPI 
or MRBI-WREP. At a minimum, the partnership agreement will address:
     The role of the partner;
     The role of NRCS;
     The responsibilities of the partner relating to water 
quality monitoring and evaluation if included as part of the proposal. 
NRCS reserves the right to negotiate with the partners on refinements 
to the monitoring and evaluation plan to address MRBI objectives;
     The format and frequency of reports (semi-annual, annual, 
and final) that are required as a condition of the agreement;
     Plan of work and budget to identify other funding sources 
(if applicable) for financial or technical assistance;
     The specified project schedule; and
     Other requirements deemed necessary by NRCS to further the 
purposes of the MRBI-CCPI or MRBI-WREP project.
    Once a project is selected, NRCS will evaluate a project's progress 
throughout the project lifecycle. NRCS will enter into a project 
agreement for the necessary funds agreed to for FY 2010. In proposed 
projects years beyond FY 2010, NRCS may obligate additional funds 
without further competition based on an assessment of the project's 
effectiveness in achieving MRBI objectives and the availability of 
funds.

Waiver Authority

    To assist in the implementation of WREP or CCPI projects, the Chief 
may waive the applicability of the Adjusted Gross Income Limitation on 
a case-by-case basis in accordance with policy and processes 
promulgated in 7 CFR part 1400. Such waiver requests must be submitted 
in writing from the program applicant, addressed to the Chief, and 
submitted through the local NRCS district conservationist.

    Signed this 23rd day of February 2010, in Washington, DC.
Dave White,
Vice President, Commodity Credit Corporation and Chief, Natural 
Resources Conservation Service.

Attachment

                                       Natural Resources Conservation Service State Conservationists--MRBI States
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
              State                                Name                        Address             Phone                     E-mail address
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Arkansas........................  Michael E. Sullivan..................  Federal Building,     (501) 301-3100  michael.sullivan@ar.usda.gov.
                                                                          Room 3416, 700
                                                                          West Capitol
                                                                          Avenue, Little
                                                                          Rock, Arkansas
                                                                          72201-3228.
Illinois........................  William J. Gradle....................  2118 W. Park          (217) 353-6601  bill.gradle@il.usda.gov.
                                                                          Court, Champaign,
                                                                          Illinois 61821.
Indiana.........................  Jane E. Hardisty.....................  6013 Lakeside         (317) 290-3200  jane.hardisty@inn.usda.gov.
                                                                          Boulevard,
                                                                          Indianapolis,
                                                                          Indiana 46278-
                                                                          2933.
Iowa............................  Richard Sims.........................  693 Federal           (515) 284-6655  richard.sims@ia.usda.gov.
                                                                          Building, 210
                                                                          Walnut Street,
                                                                          Suite 693, Des
                                                                          Moines, Iowa
                                                                          50309-2180.
Kentucky........................  Tom Perrin...........................  771 Corporate         (859) 224-7350  tom.perrin@ky.usda.gov.
                                                                          Drive, Suite 110,
                                                                          Lexington,
                                                                          Kentucky 40503-
                                                                          5479.
Louisiana.......................  Kevin D. Norton......................  3737 Government       (318) 473-7751  kevin.norton@la.usda.gov.
                                                                          Street,
                                                                          Alexandria,
                                                                          Louisiana 71302.
Minnesota.......................  Jennifer Heglund.....................  375 Jackson           (651) 602-7900  jennifer.heglund@mn.usda.gov.
                                                                          Street, Suite
                                                                          600, St. Paul,
                                                                          Minnesota 55101-
                                                                          1854.
Mississippi.....................  Homer Wilkes.........................  Suite 1321,           (601) 965-5205  homer.wilkes@ms.usda.gov.
                                                                          Federal Building,
                                                                          100 West Capitol
                                                                          Street, Jackson,
                                                                          Mississippi 39269-
                                                                          1399.
Missouri........................  J.R. Flores..........................  Parkade Center,       (573) 876-0901  Jr.flores@mo.usda.gov.
                                                                          Suite 250, 601
                                                                          Business Loop 70
                                                                          West, Columbia,
                                                                          Missouri 65203-
                                                                          2546.
Ohio............................  Terry J. Cosby.......................  200 North High        (614) 255-2472  terry.cosby@oh.usda.gov.
                                                                          Street, Room 522,
                                                                          Columbus, Ohio
                                                                          43215-2478.
Tennessee.......................  Kevin Brown..........................  675 U.S.              (615) 277-2531  kevin.brown@tn.usda.gov.
                                                                          Courthouse, 801
                                                                          Broadway,
                                                                          Nashville,
                                                                          Tennessee 37203-
                                                                          3878.
Wisconsin.......................  Patricia Leavenworth.................  8030 Excelsior        (608) 662-4422  pat.leavenworth@wi.usda.gov.
                                                                          Drive, Suite 200,
                                                                          Madison,
                                                                          Wisconsin 53717.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


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[FR Doc. 2010-4275 Filed 3-1-10; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3410-16-P