Cooperative Conservation Partnership Initiative and Wetlands Reserve Enhancement Program, 73-79 [2011-33692]

Download as PDF 73 Notices Federal Register Vol. 77, No. 1 Tuesday, January 3, 2012 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 Natural Resources Conservation Service Commodity Credit Corporation [Docket No. NRCS–2011–0025] Cooperative Conservation Partnership Initiative and Wetlands Reserve Enhancement Program Natural Resources Conservation Service and Commodity Credit Corporation, United States Department of Agriculture. ACTION: Notice of request for proposals through the Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative (MRBI). AGENCY: The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) announces the availability of financial assistance funds in fiscal year (FY) 2012 for up to $11.74 million in the Cooperative Conservation Partnership Initiative (CCPI) and up to $25 million in the Wetlands Reserve Enhancement Program (WREP) through MRBI. These funding levels are available for new MRBI proposals only. However, CCPI and WREP will not be the only funding SUMMARY: mechanisms for MRBI in FY 2012. The Chief of NRCS reserves discretion in utilizing other NRCS conservation program funds and mechanisms in support of the objectives of MRBI. Through agreements, partners and NRCS will provide assistance to eligible participants in the 54 designated focus areas (8-digit hydrologic unit codes (HUCs)) in the following 13 States: Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. The purpose of this notice is to solicit proposals from potential partners to enter into agreements with NRCS and to inform agricultural producers and landowners of the future availability of program funds through approved partnership projects. Proposals must be based on one or more 12-digit HUCs within the 54 designated focus areas. Partners who are currently involved in approved MRBI agreements through CCPI or WREP and want to work in other 12-digit watersheds must submit new proposals for a new project. DATES: Eligible partners may submit proposals for MRBI–CCPI and MRBI– WREP via email or U.S. Postal Service; however, all proposals must be received on or before March 19, 2012. ADDRESSES: Applicants are encouraged to submit proposals electronically to MRBI–CCPI@wdc.usda.gov for CCPI and MRBI–WREP@wdc.usda.gov for WREP. If submitting a paper proposal, the proposal may be mailed to: Martin Lowenfish, Acting Team Leader, Conservation Initiatives Team, Natural Resources Conservation Service, P.O. Box 2890, Washington, DC 20013. Do not send submissions via registered or certified mail. Do not send the same proposal both electronically and to the Post Office Box address; use only one method to submit a proposal. If submitting more than one project proposal, please submit each separately. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Deena Wheby, MRBI Coordinator, Conservation Initiatives Team, Natural Resources Conservation Service; Telephone: (859) 224–7403 or email: deena.wheby@ky.usda.gov. 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: Part A—General WREP and CCPI Proposal Information Focus Area Watersheds Fifty-four focus area (8-digit HUC) 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, phosphorous, and sediment levels in the watersheds of the Mississippi River Basin, as well as improve wildlife habitat and restore wetlands. The designated 8-digit HUC focus areas are listed below. A complete list of the smaller-scale, 12-digit HUC sub-watersheds within the designated 8digit HUC focus areas can be found on the MRBI home page. The MRBI home page can be found by searching for MRBI at: http://www.nrcs.usda.gov. DESIGNATED FOCUS AREAS FOR THE MRBI FY 2012 (8-DIGIT HUCS) Hydrologic Unit Code pmangrum on DSK3VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES State(s) Watershed Arkansas/Missouri ................................................. Arkansas ............................................................... Arkansas ............................................................... Arkansas/Missouri ................................................. Arkansas ............................................................... Arkansas ............................................................... Arkansas ............................................................... Arkansas ............................................................... Arkansas ............................................................... Arkansas/Kentucky/Missouri/Tennessee .............. Arkansas/Mississippi ............................................. Arkansas/Louisiana/Mississippi ............................ Illinois .................................................................... Illinois .................................................................... Illinois/Indiana ....................................................... Cache ................................................................... Lake Conway-Point Remove ................................ L’Anguille .............................................................. Lower St. Francis ................................................. Bayou Meto .......................................................... Lower White ......................................................... Lower White-Bayou Des Arc ................................ Lower Arkansas .................................................... Big ........................................................................ Lower Mississippi—Memphis ............................... Lower Mississippi—Helena .................................. Lower Mississippi—Greenville ............................. Lower Illinois-Senachwine Lake ........................... Vermillion (Upper Mississippi River sub-basin) .... Vermillion (Upper Ohio River sub-basin) ............. VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:13 Dec 30, 2011 Jkt 226001 PO 00000 Frm 00001 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 E:\FR\FM\03JAN1.SGM 08020302 11110203 08020205 08020203 08020402 08020303 08020301 08020401 08020304 08010100 08020100 08030100 07130001 07130002 05120109 03JAN1 Proposals accepted for: CCPI and/or CCPI and/or CCPI and/or CCPI and/or CCPI and/or CCPI and/or CCPI and/or CCPI and/or CCPI and/or WREP only. WREP only. WREP only. CCPI and/or CCPI and/or CCPI and/or WREP. WREP. WREP. WREP. WREP. WREP. WREP. WREP. WREP. WREP. WREP. WREP. 74 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 1 / Tuesday, January 3, 2012 / Notices DESIGNATED FOCUS AREAS FOR THE MRBI FY 2012 (8-DIGIT HUCS)—Continued Hydrologic Unit Code State(s) Watershed Indiana .................................................................. Indiana .................................................................. Indiana .................................................................. Indiana/Ohio ......................................................... Iowa ...................................................................... Iowa ...................................................................... Iowa ...................................................................... Iowa/Minnesota ..................................................... Kentucky/Tennessee ............................................ Kentucky ............................................................... Kentucky ............................................................... Louisiana .............................................................. Louisiana .............................................................. Louisiana/Arkansas ............................................... Louisiana/Arkansas ............................................... Louisiana/Mississippi ............................................ Minnesota ............................................................. Minnesota ............................................................. Minnesota ............................................................. Mississippi ............................................................. Mississippi/Louisiana/Arkansas ............................ Mississippi ............................................................. Missouri/Iowa ........................................................ Mississippi ............................................................. Missouri ................................................................. Missouri ................................................................. Missouri/Arkansas ................................................. Ohio/Indiana ......................................................... Ohio ...................................................................... Tennessee ............................................................ Tennessee/Kentucky ............................................ Tennessee ............................................................ Tennessee/Kentucky ............................................ South Dakota/Minnesota ...................................... Wisconsin/Illinois ................................................... Wisconsin .............................................................. Wisconsin .............................................................. Wisconsin/Iowa ..................................................... Wisconsin/Minnesota ............................................ Eel ........................................................................ Upper East Fork White ......................................... Wildcat .................................................................. Upper Wabash ..................................................... Boone ................................................................... Maquoketa ............................................................ North Raccoon ..................................................... Upper Cedar ......................................................... Bayou De Chien-Mayfield .................................... Licking .................................................................. Lower Green ......................................................... Mermentau ........................................................... Lower Mississippi—Baton Rouge ........................ Bayou Macon ....................................................... Boeuf River ........................................................... Lower Mississippi—Natchez ................................ Middle Minnesota ................................................. Root ...................................................................... Sauk ..................................................................... Big Sunflower ....................................................... Deer-Steele .......................................................... Upper Yazoo ........................................................ Lower Grand ......................................................... Coldwater Creek ................................................... North Fork Salt ..................................................... South Fork Salt .................................................... Little River Ditches ............................................... Upper Great Miami ............................................... Upper Scioto ......................................................... Forked Deer ......................................................... Obion .................................................................... South Fork Obion ................................................. Red River ............................................................. Upper Minnesota .................................................. Upper Rock .......................................................... Kickapoo ............................................................... Middle Rock .......................................................... Grant-Little Maquoketa ......................................... Rush-Vermillion .................................................... pmangrum on DSK3VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Under MRBI, NRCS works with partners through CCPI and WREP to help address conservation concerns and opportunities within the watershed of the Mississippi River Basin. In approved MRBI–CCPI project areas, NRCS will make Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), and Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program (WHIP) funds available to eligible producers consistent with the proposal design as much as possible. In approved MRBI–WREP project areas, funds are available through the Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP). Proposal Submission, Review, and Notification Potential partners are highly encouraged to submit proposals to the email address provided in the ‘‘Addresses’’ section of this notice. If the proposal is submitted in hard copy, the potential partner must submit two copies of the proposal, typewritten or VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:13 Dec 30, 2011 Jkt 226001 printed on 8-1/2″ x 11″ white paper. The entire project proposal, not including letters of support, cannot exceed 12 pages in length including a summary, responses to the information requested in this Federal Register, maps, and other supporting documents. The proposal must address, in sufficient detail, all the criteria outlined in the ‘‘Proposal Requirements’’ section of this notice in order to be considered. MRBI–CCPI and MRBI–WREP proposals submitted to NRCS become the property of the agency 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 for review and ranking, there will be no further opportunity for the potential partner to change or re-submit the proposal; however, NRCS may request certain changes before finalizing the selection and approval of a project. Incomplete proposals or those that do not meet the requirements set forth in PO 00000 Frm 00002 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 05120104 05120206 05120107 05120101 07100005 07060006 07100006 07080201 08010201 05100101 05110005 08080202 08070100 08050002 08050001 08060100 07020007 07040008 07010202 08030207 08030209 08030206 10280103 08030204 07110005 07110006 08020204 05080001 05060001 08010206 08010202 08010203 05130206 07020001 07090001 07070006 07090002 07060003 07040001 Proposals accepted for: CCPI and/or CCPI and/or CCPI and/or CCPI and/or CCPI and/or CCPI and/or CCPI and/or CCPI and/or CCPI and/or CCPI and/or CCPI and/or CCPI and/or WREP only. CCPI and/or CCPI and/or WREP only. CCPI and/or CCPI and/or CCPI and/or CCPI and/or CCPI and/or CCPI and/or CCPI and/or CCPI and/or CCPI and/or CCPI and/or CCPI and/or CCPI and/or CCPI and/or CCPI and/or CCPI and/or CCPI and/or CCPI and/or CCPI and/or CCPI and/or CCPI and/or CCPI and/or CCPI and/or CCPI and/or WREP. WREP. WREP. WREP. WREP. WREP. WREP. WREP. WREP. WREP. WREP. WREP. WREP. WREP. WREP. WREP. WREP. WREP. WREP. WREP. WREP. WREP. WREP. WREP. WREP. WREP. WREP. WREP. WREP. WREP. WREP. WREP. WREP. WREP. WREP. WREP. WREP. this notice will not be considered, and notification of elimination will be mailed to the applicant. Partner proposals may be withdrawn by written notice to Deena Wheby, MRBI Coordinator, Conservation Initiatives Team, at any time prior to selection (see ADDRESSES section in this notice). NRCS will review, evaluate, and rank proposals based on the criteria set forth in the respective ‘‘Proposal Requirements’’ sections of this notice for both MRBI–CCPI and MRBI–WREP. Potential partners should recognize that the proposal is the only document NRCS will use in the evaluation process. The proposal must request NRCS program funds for obligation beginning in FY 2012 (October 1, 2011– September 30, 2012). Proposals which request funding with obligation starting after FY 2012 will not be evaluated or considered under this request for proposals. Partners whose proposals have been selected will receive an official letter of E:\FR\FM\03JAN1.SGM 03JAN1 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 1 / Tuesday, January 3, 2012 / Notices notification. Upon notification of selection, the partner should contact the appropriate State Conservationist(s) to develop the required partnership agreement and other project implementation requirements. Potential partners should note that, depending upon available funding and agency priorities, NRCS may offer a reduced amount of program financial assistance from what was requested in the proposal and may require adjustments to the proposal as a condition of approval to meet program or other requirements. Partner submissions of proposals that are not selected will also be notified by mail. State Conservationist(s) Proposal Review Once a project proposal is received, the agency will provide a copy of it to the appropriate State Conservationist(s). State Conservationist(s) will review the proposals to: (a) Document potential duplication with other projects or existing programs; (b) Confirm adherence to and consistency with program regulations, including requirements related to land and landowner eligibility and other program requirements; (c) Address expected benefits for project implementation in their State(s); (d) For multi-State proposals, coordinate with all State Conservationists involved in the proposal to verify concurrence and support for the project; (e) Identify other issues or concerns that should be considered; and (f) Provide a recommendation, along with justification, to the NRCS Chief for approval or disapproval of the project. pmangrum on DSK3VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Waiver Authority To assist in the implementation of approved WREP and CCPI projects, the Chief may waive the applicability of the Adjusted Gross Income Limitation, on a case-by-case basis, in accordance with 7 CFR part 1400. Such waiver requests must be submitted in writing from the program applicant, not the sponsoring partner, addressed to the Chief, through the local NRCS designated conservationist. Part B—The Cooperative Conservation Partnership Initiative Component of MRBI To improve the health of the watersheds within the Mississippi River Basin, NRCS and its partners will help producers to voluntarily implement conservation practices that avoid, control, and trap nutrient runoff; improve wildlife habitat; restore wetlands; and maintain agricultural VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:13 Dec 30, 2011 Jkt 226001 productivity. These improvements will be accomplished through a conservation systems approach to address water quality, wetland, and wildlife related resource concerns. NRCS will provide producers assistance in implementing a suite of practices that will reduce the impacts of nutrients and sediment leaving agricultural fields. In the Lower Mississippi River Basin States, practices may also address water quantity as a compatible resource concern with water quality as the primary resource concern. Overview of the CCPI The CCPI is a voluntary conservation initiative that enables the use of certain conservation programs, combined with resources from eligible partners, to provide financial and technical assistance to owners and operators of agricultural and nonindustrial private forest lands in order to enhance conservation outcomes and achieve resource conservation objectives. The functions of CCPI can best be described in two parts: CCPI partnerships and CCPI program participation. CCPI Partnerships Under CCPI, eligible potential partners may submit proposals addressing the criteria that are outlined in this request for proposals. Partners who may enter into partnership agreements with NRCS include federally recognized Indian Tribes, State and local units of government, producer associations, farmer cooperatives, institutions of higher education, and nongovernmental organizations which have a history of working cooperatively with producers to effectively address conservation priorities related to agricultural production and nonindustrial private forest land. Individual agricultural producers are not eligible partner entities and may not submit CCPI proposals. However, individual agricultural producers can participate by applying for program assistance in the approved proposal areas through their local NRCS office. Proposals will be evaluated through a competitive review process. After selection, the partners will enter into a partnership agreement with NRCS. The partnership agreement will not obligate funds, but as applicable, will address the following: (a) Role of the partner; (b) Role of NRCS; (c) Responsibilities of the partner as it relates to the monitoring and evaluation; (d) Frequency and duration of monitoring and evaluation to be completed by the partner; PO 00000 Frm 00003 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 75 (e) Format and frequency of reports that are required as a condition of the partnership agreement; (f) Budget which includes other funding sources (if applicable) for financial and technical assistance; (g) Specified project schedule and timeframe; and (h) Other requirements deemed necessary by NRCS to further the purposes of MRBI. Where flexibility is needed to meet project objectives, the partner may request that program adjustments be allowed, provided such adjustments are within the scope of the applicable programs’ statutory and regulatory program authorities. An example of an adjustment may be to expedite the applicable program ranking process in a situation where a partner has identified the producers approved to participate in the project. Other examples of flexibilities are payment percentage rates, or use of a single area-wide conservation plan of operations rather than individual conservation plans of operation. An example of an ineligible flexibility would be to request funds for activities that do not meet NRCS conservation practice standards. CCPI is not a grant program, and all Federal funds made available through this request for proposals will be paid directly to producers through program contract agreements. If desired, producers may elect to have their payments assigned to another party. No technical assistance funding may be provided to a partner through the CCPI partner agreement. However, if requested by a partner, the State Conservationist may consider development of a separate contribution agreement with a qualified partner to provide funding for delivery of technical services to producers participating in an approved CCPI project. CCPI Program Participation Once the agency approves and announces the selected partner projects, eligible agricultural producers located within the approved project areas may apply directly to NRCS for funding through one or more of the following programs: EQIP, CSP, or WHIP. CCPI uses the funds, policies, and processes of these programs to deliver assistance to eligible producers to implement approved core and supporting conservation practices, enhancements, and activities under MRBI. Producers interested in applying must meet the eligibility requirements of the program for which they are applying. Individual applications from eligible producers will be evaluated and ranked to ensure E:\FR\FM\03JAN1.SGM 03JAN1 76 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 1 / Tuesday, January 3, 2012 / Notices that producer applications selected for funding are most likely to achieve project objectives. Once applications are selected, the producers may enter into one or more contracts or cost-share agreements with NRCS within one or more of the programs offered under CCPI. During FY 2012, an objective of MRBI–CCPI is to deliver EQIP, CSP, and WHIP assistance to producers to achieve MRBI priority conservation objectives in geographic areas defined by the partner. Depending upon the program available in the project area, the assistance provided enables eligible producers to implement conservation practices and enhancements, including the development and adoption of innovative conservation practices and management approaches. pmangrum on DSK3VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Availability of Funding Effective on the publication date of this notice, the Commodity Credit Corporation announces the availability of up to $9 million in EQIP and $500,000 in WHIP financial assistance and 140,000 acres in CSP for MRBI– CCPI during FY 2012. Proposal Requirements The proposal must include the following. Please provide the information in the order as listed below: (1) Proposal Cover and Summary: (a) Project Title; (b) Project director/manager name, telephone number, mailing address, and email address; (c) Name and contact information for lead partner entity submitting proposal and other collaborating partners; and (d) Short summary of project including: i. Project start and end dates (not to exceed a period of 4 years); ii. Designated 12-digit HUC, or contiguous multiple 12-digit HUCs subwatersheds where the project is located, including the State(s) and county(s); iii. General project objectives and resource concerns to be addressed as they relate to MRBI priorities and objectives; iv. Total amount of CCPI financial assistance being requested by program; v. Whether any of the proposed 12digit project HUCs have previously been approved for a MRBI CCPI project; and vi. Whether the MRBI–CCPI proposal will be used in conjunction with a MRBI–WREP, MRBI–CIG, or other Federal programs to meet MRBI objectives. Include the name of the program and the associated Federal agency. (Note: Federal funds cannot be used as a match to the funds provided by NRCS.) (2) Project Natural Resource Objectives and Concerns: VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:13 Dec 30, 2011 Jkt 226001 (a) Identify and provide detail about the project objectives. Objectives should be specific, measureable, achievable, and results-oriented. (b) Identify and provide detail about the natural resource concern(s) to be addressed in this project. Include in this description how the proposal objectives will address the priority MRBI resource concerns of water quality, wetland restoration, and improved wildlife habitat. Water quantity may be addressed as a complementary resource concern in the Lower Mississippi River Basin States. Potential partners will work with the State Conservationist(s) to ensure the priority resource concerns are addressed by utilizing approved conservation practices, enhancements and activities, and conservation program requirements. A list of NRCS approved natural resource concerns for MRBI may be found on the MRBI Web site which can be found by searching for MRBI at http://www.nrcs.usda.gov. (3) Detailed Project Description: (a) A detailed description of the geographic area covered by the proposal, including: i. Types of land uses to be treated; and ii. The location and size of the proposed project area, and what 12-digit HUC sub-watershed(s) the project will be within. (b) A detailed map showing the project area. Include on the map: i. Outlined areas that need conservation treatments; ii. Location where conservation treatments are needed; and iii. Priority order for the different areas to be treated. (c) A description of the project timeline. Include: i. Duration of the project, not to exceed 4 consecutive years in length beginning in FY 2012; ii. Project implementation schedule that details when different objectives and conservation practices and enhancements will be completed; iii. When partner and Federal resources will be used within the timeframe of the project. Include the total amount of financial assistance funds requested for each fiscal year of the project to be made available for producer contracts and cost-share agreements (for multi-State projects, provide the funds or acres by State as appropriate); and iv. When the final project report will be submitted. (d) A description of the plan for evaluating and reporting on progress made toward achieving the objectives of the agreement. (e) Identify potential criteria to be used by NRCS to prioritize and rank PO 00000 Frm 00004 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 agricultural producers’ applications for EQIP, CSP, and WHIP in the project area. Potential partners should collaborate with NRCS to develop meaningful criteria that NRCS can use to evaluate and rank producer program applications. This will ensure that producer applications which will best accomplish MRBI objectives will be selected. (f) An estimate of the percentage of producers, including nonindustrial private forest landowners, in the project area that may participate in the project along with an estimate of the total number of producers located in the project area. Provide details about additional information such as how the partner will encourage producer participation; does the project include any Tribal producers, beginning farmers or ranchers, socially disadvantaged farmers or ranchers, or limited resource farmers or ranchers; and are there groups of producers who may submit joint applications to address resource issues of common interest and need. (g) A listing and description of the approved MRBI–CCPI core conservation practices, conservation activity plans, enhancements, and partner activities to be implemented during the project timeframe and the general sequence of implementation of the project. Information about approved MRBI–CCPI EQIP, WHIP, and CSP practices, enhancements, and activities can be accessed at http://www.nrcs.usda.gov. Only the conservation practices listed, which are available in the applicable State’s Field Office Technical Guide, are eligible for use in MRBI. For each conservation practice, estimate the amount of practice extent (feet, acres, number, etc.) the partner expects producers to implement and the amount of financial assistance requested to support implementation of each practice through producer contracts. (h) Also address technical assistance efforts that will be made by the partner. Describe any activities that are innovative and include outcome-based performance measures, such as water quality monitoring, to be implemented by the partner. (i) Indicate whether the project will address specific regulatory compliance and any other outcomes the partner expects to complete during the project period. (j) A detailed description of any requested adjustments, by program, with an explanation of why the adjustment is needed in order to achieve the objectives of the project. Requested adjustments or flexibilities must comply with statutory and regulatory requirements. E:\FR\FM\03JAN1.SGM 03JAN1 pmangrum on DSK3VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 1 / Tuesday, January 3, 2012 / Notices (k) A science-based description of how the proposal’s objectives also may provide additional benefits by addressing energy conservation or mitigating the effects of climate change, if applicable. (l) If applicable, a detailed description of a plan to conduct water quality monitoring and evaluation and the reporting of progress made toward achieving MRBI objectives and desired outcomes. NRCS is especially interested in proposals that adopt a three-tiered monitoring and evaluation approach designed to assess environmental outcomes at the edge-of-field, in-stream, and at the 12-digit HUC level; however, only those partners with the capacity to implement monitoring and evaluation at these three tiers, or a partnership with an entity that has agreed to perform this task, should include this in the project proposal. Capacity includes the ability, expertise, available staff, and any needed financial assistance beyond CCPI funding to conduct monitoring and evaluation including identification of monitoring locations, collection and analysis of samples, reporting of results, etc.. If an entity other than the applicant entity will be responsible for monitoring and evaluation, a letter of commitment is to be included with the project proposal submission. Higher priority will be given to projects that adopt this three-tiered approach where the partner provides resources or technical services to carry it out. Higher priority will also be given to projects that utilize environmental indicators to assess water quality and evaluate effects of conservation systems and activities implemented through the project at the edge-of-field level in conjunction with in-stream and 12-digit HUC monitoring. Information concerning water quality monitoring and evaluation can be found at on the MRBI home page. The MRBI home page can be found by searching for MRBI at http://www.nrcs.usda.gov. (4) Partner Description: (a) A description of the partner(s) history of working with agricultural producers to address conservation priorities; (b) A description of how the partner(s) will collaborate to achieve the objectives of the agreement including: i. The roles, responsibilities, and capabilities of the partner(s); and ii. The financial or technical commitments of each of the partner(s) and how they will be leveraged by the Federal contribution through EQIP, WHIP, CSP, or a combination of the three. Include specifically what commitments will be used toward water quality monitoring needs. If partners who do not submit the proposal intend VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:13 Dec 30, 2011 Jkt 226001 to commit resources, a letter or other documentation from these partners confirming a commitment of specified resources is required. (c) A description of the resources (financial and technical assistance) requested from each of the applicable NRCS programs (EQIP, WHIP, and CSP) and the non-Federal resources provided by the partner that will be leveraged by the Federal contribution. Partners need to clearly state, by project objective, how they intend to leverage Federal funds along with partner resources. The funding and time contribution by agricultural producers to implement agreed-to conservation practices and enhancements in program contracts will not be considered any part of a match from the potential partner for purposes of CCPI. (d) A description of how the partner will facilitate the submission of landowner applications; (e) A description of how the partner will provide for outreach to beginning farmers or ranchers, limited resource farmers or ranchers, socially disadvantaged farmers or ranchers, and Indian Tribes. National Ranking Considerations The agency will evaluate proposals using a national competitive process. A higher priority may be given to proposals that: (a) Have a high percentage of producers actively farming or managing working agricultural or nonindustrial private forest lands included in the proposed project area; (b) Significantly leverage non-Federal financial and technical resources and coordinate with other local, State, or Federal efforts. This includes resources committed to provide for water quality monitoring and evaluation of conservation practices; (c) Integrate both WREP and CCPI within a project area; (d) Deliver high percentages of applied conservation practices to address water quality, wildlife habitat, and wetland restoration; (e) Provide innovation in approved conservation practices, conservation methods, and delivery, including outcome-based performance measures and methods such as adaptive management strategies; (f) Complete the application of the conservation practices and activities on all of the covered program contracts or cost-share agreements in 4 years or less; (g) Assist the participants in meeting local, State, and Federal regulatory requirements; (h) Provide for environmental monitoring and evaluation of PO 00000 Frm 00005 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 77 conservation practices, enhancements, and activities, which includes the ability, expertise, available staff, and any needed financial assistance beyond CCPI funding to conduct monitoring and evaluation including identification of monitoring locations, collection and analysis of samples, reporting of results, etc.; (i) 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 proposed project area; (j) Have a high potential to achieve MRBI water quality objectives of nitrogen, phosphorous, and sediment reductions leaving the field; and (k) Identify other factors and criteria which best achieve the purposes of MRBI–CCPI. Part C—The Wetlands Reserve Enhancement Program Component of MRBI Availability of Funding Effective upon publication of this notice, NRCS on behalf of the CCC, announces that within the designated focus areas in the Mississippi River Basin Watersheds, up to $25 million in financial assistance funds are available in FY 2012 for WREP to eligible participants through approved partnership projects within the 54 designated 8-digit HUC focus area watersheds in the following states: Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. Under WREP, NRCS enters into multiyear agreements with eligible State and local governments, nongovernmental organizations, and Indian Tribes to target and leverage resources to carry out high priority wetland protection, restoration, and enhancement activities; and improve water quality and wildlife habitat. Eligible partners should submit complete proposals to the addresses listed in this notice addressing the MRBI conservation objectives to be achieved in one or more 12-digit HUC watersheds within the 54 eligible 8-digit HUC focus area watersheds. Proposals that integrate a MRBI–WREP proposal with a MRBI–CCPI project in one or more 12-digit HUC watersheds will be given additional consideration in the selection process. Overview WREP is a voluntary conservation program which is a component of WRP. WREP leverages resources of eligible partners to provide financial assistance E:\FR\FM\03JAN1.SGM 03JAN1 pmangrum on DSK3VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES 78 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 1 / Tuesday, January 3, 2012 / Notices to eligible landowners to protect, restore, and enhance high priority wetlands; improve wildlife habitat; and improve water quality. WREP partners are required to contribute a match as detailed in the proposal requirement section at 3(e). Proposals which include additional partner resources will be given higher priority consideration in the selection process. WREP financial assistance is delivered to eligible landowners and partners 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 who conduct the restoration activities. Only States and local units of government, Indian Tribes, and nongovernmental organizations are eligible to submit a proposal and enter into agreements with NRCS. A nongovernmental organization is an organization described in section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986. Individual landowners may not submit WREP proposals through this submission process. However, once a WREP project has been approved and announced, eligible landowners may apply for WREP through their local NRCS office. As part of the agreement, approved partners may also help facilitate the submission of landowner applications, provide additional technical or financial assistance to landowners, and provide other resources as defined in the agreement. Written proposals are to be submitted by eligible partners, and project evaluation will be based upon a competitive process and the criteria established in this notice. Once NRCS selects a partner’s proposal, landowners within the selected project area may submit an application directly to NRCS for participation in WRP. Individual landowner applications will be evaluated and ranked along with other applications in the watershed or geographic project area, when applicable, to ensure that the properties selected for funding will achieve project objectives. Wetland restoration and enhancement actions will be designed to improve water quality and maximize wildlife habitat benefits and wetland functions and values according to the WRP regulation, 7 CFR part 1467, and NRCS conservation practice standards. Additionally, the successful restoration of land and the resultant wetland values must take into consideration the cost of such restoration, as required by the WRP statute and reflected in the WRP VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:13 Dec 30, 2011 Jkt 226001 regulation at 7 CFR part 1467.4. Proposals must conform to the WRP guidelines for restoration and management of lands subject to a WRP easement. Benefits to the partners in WREP agreements include: • Involvement in wetland restorations in high priority MRBI focus areas; • Ability to cost-share restoration or enhancement components beyond those required by NRCS; • Ability to participate in management or monitoring of selected project locations; and • Opportunity to utilize innovative restoration methods and practices. Land Eligibility The land eligibility criteria for WREP are the same as for WRP and are listed in 7 CFR 1467.4. Proposal Requirements For consideration, the proposal must be in the following format and contain the information set forth below. (1) Proposal Cover and Summary. The first few pages of the proposal must include— (a) Project Title. (b) Project Director/Manager name, telephone, mailing address, and email address. (c) Name and contact information for lead partner submitting proposal and other collaborating partners. (d) Short general summary of project, including: (i) Potential acres to be enrolled in the project area, (ii) Designated 12-digit watershed(s) where the project is located, including the State(s), and county(s). Include a general location map, (iii) Proposed project start and end dates that do not exceed 4 consecutive years including FY 2012, (iv) The project objectives and resource concerns to be addressed, and (v) Total amount of financial assistance being requested. (2) Project Natural Resource Objectives and Actions. The proposal must— (a) Identify and provide detail about the wildlife and water quality concerns to be addressed and how the proposal’s objectives will address those concerns. Objectives should be specific, measurable, achievable, resultsoriented, and include a timeline 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 project using WREP assistance, and PO 00000 Frm 00006 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 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 Project Description. Information provided in the proposal must include— (a) A description of the partner(s) history of working cooperatively with landowners on conservation easements. (b) A description of the watershed characteristics within the designated focus area covered by the proposal including a detailed watershed map that indicates the project location. The description should include information related to land use types, vegetation, soils, hydrology, potential sources of water quality impairments, occurrences of at-risk species, proximity to other protected areas, and a summary of resource concerns. Proposals should state whether a MRBI–WREP proposal is integrated with a MRBI–CCPI proposed project and include the name of the 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 4 years. (e) A description of the financial assistance resources that are requested through WREP, and the non-Federal resources provided by the partner(s) that will be leveraged by the Federal contribution. WREP requires partners to contribute a match of: (i) In-kind only contributions of at least 20 percent of the restoration costs, (ii) cash only contributions of at least 5 percent of the restoration costs, or (iii) a combination of in-kind and cash contributions of at least 20 percent of the restoration costs. Proposals which include additional partner resources will be given additional consideration in the selection process. Contributions provided by the partners to achieve additional ranking points can be in the form of technical or financial assistance for the protection, restoration, and enhancement of the wetland. Contributions can also be in the form of assistance with management and monitoring activities. Contributions above the match requirement can be cash or in-kind equipment or services. Partners may provide incentives to landowners to participate in WREP; E:\FR\FM\03JAN1.SGM 03JAN1 pmangrum on DSK3VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 1 / Tuesday, January 3, 2012 / Notices however, incentive payments will not be considered part of the match requirement. Incentives include sign-up bonuses, practice incentive payments, or similar activities not funded through WRP. (f) Total budget for the project including all partner resources which will be leveraged for the project and the amount of WREP financial assistance being requested for project broken out by fiscal year with totals. Include a description of the amount of funds needed annually for easement acquisition and wetland restoration and enhancement activities. (g) A description of non-Federal resources that will be available for implementation of the proposal. Proposals which include additional non-Federal resources will be given higher consideration in the selection process. The partner needs to state clearly how they intend to leverage Federal funds along with partner resources. Landowner contributions in the implementation of agreed-to wetland restoration and enhancement practices may not be considered any part of a match from the potential partner for purposes of WREP. Partners will also be required to submit a plan for monitoring, evaluating, and reporting progress made toward achieving the objectives of the agreement. (h) An estimate of the percentage of potential landowners, or estimate of the percentage of acres likely to be enrolled within the project area, compared to the total number of potential landowners or acres located in the project area. A statement on how the partner will encourage participation to guarantee success of the project. It is not necessary for a target area to involve multiple landowners to be selected. Projects will be evaluated based on the ecological merits of the proposal and contributions by the partners. (i) A statement describing how the partner will provide outreach, especially to encourage participation by Indian Tribes, beginning farmers or ranchers, socially disadvantaged farmers or ranchers, and limited resource farmers or ranchers. (j) 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. VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:13 Dec 30, 2011 Jkt 226001 National Ranking Considerations The appropriate State Conservationist will evaluate proposals and forward recommendations, with justification, to the NRCS Chief for review and selection. The Chief will give a higher priority to proposals that: (a) Have a high potential to achieve wetland restoration; (b) Have a high potential to significantly improve water quality; (c) Have a high potential to significantly improve wildlife habitat; (d) Have a high potential to remove frequently flooded lands from agricultural production returning lands to more natural conditions; (e) Significantly leverage non-Federal financial and technical resources and coordinate with other local, State, tribal, or Federal efforts; (f) Demonstrate the partner’s history of working cooperatively with landowners on conservation easements; (g) Provide innovation in wetland protection, restoration, enhancement, and management methods and outcomebased performance measures and methods; (h) Provide evidence that wetland restoration and enhancement activities will be completed within 2 years of easement closing; (i) Provide for monitoring and evaluation of the effectiveness of the restoration activities on water quality; (j) Provide for matching financial or technical assistance funds to assist landowners with the implementation of the Wetlands Reserve Plan of Operations and associated contracts; (k) Facilitate the submission of landowner applications; (l) Provide for outreach to, and participation of, Indian Tribes, beginning farmers or ranchers, socially disadvantaged farmers or ranchers, and limited resource farmers or ranchers within the area covered by the agreement; and (m) Integrate a MRBI–WREP proposal with a MRBI–CCPI proposed or approved project. Partnership Agreements Upon proposal selection, NRCS will enter an agreement with a partner as the mechanism for partner participation in WREP. At a minimum, the agreement will address: (a) The role of the partner; (b) The role of NRCS; (c) The format and frequency of reports that is required as a condition of the agreement; (d) The Plan of Work and budget to identify other funding sources (if applicable) for financial or technical assistance; PO 00000 Frm 00007 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 79 (e) The specified project schedule and timeframe; (f) Whether the agreement will serve as an obligating document or whether funds will be obligated under a separate agreement with the partner or with a third party; and (g) Other requirements deemed necessary by NRCS to achieve purposes of the WRP. Landowner Application Landowners must meet the eligibility requirements of WRP, as published in 7 CFR part 1467. Landowners interested in participating may apply for designated WREP funds at their local service center after WREP proposals are selected. In FY 2012, NRCS will make WREP funds available to eligible landowners to enroll land under a permanent easement, a 30-year easement, a 30-year contract on acreage owned by Indian Tribes, or through a Restoration Agreement. NRCS and the partner may 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. Signed the 22nd day of December, 2011, in Washington, DC. Dave White, Vice President, Commodity Credit Corporation and Chief, Natural Resources Conservation Service. [FR Doc. 2011–33692 Filed 12–30–11; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410–16–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE International Trade Administration [A–570–863] Honey From the People’s Republic of China: Preliminary Rescission of the Administrative Review Import Administration, International Trade Administration, Department of Commerce. SUMMARY: The Department of Commerce (‘‘Department’’) is conducting the administrative review of the antidumping duty order on honey from the People’s Republic of China (‘‘PRC’’) for the period of review (‘‘POR’’) December 1, 2009, to November 30, 2010. As discussed below, we have preliminarily determined to rescind this administrative review because we have found the sales made by Dongtai Peak Honey Industry Co., Ltd. (‘‘Dongtai Peak’’) that entered during the POR were not bona fide. AGENCY: E:\FR\FM\03JAN1.SGM 03JAN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 1 (Tuesday, January 3, 2012)]
[Notices]
[Pages 73-79]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-33692]


========================================================================
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. 77, No. 1 / Tuesday, January 3, 2012 / 
Notices

[[Page 73]]



DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Natural Resources Conservation Service

Commodity Credit Corporation

[Docket No. NRCS-2011-0025]


Cooperative Conservation Partnership Initiative and Wetlands 
Reserve Enhancement Program

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

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

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

SUMMARY: The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) announces 
the availability of financial assistance funds in fiscal year (FY) 2012 
for up to $11.74 million in the Cooperative Conservation Partnership 
Initiative (CCPI) and up to $25 million in the Wetlands Reserve 
Enhancement Program (WREP) through MRBI. These funding levels are 
available for new MRBI proposals only. However, CCPI and WREP will not 
be the only funding mechanisms for MRBI in FY 2012. The Chief of NRCS 
reserves discretion in utilizing other NRCS conservation program funds 
and mechanisms in support of the objectives of MRBI.
    Through agreements, partners and NRCS will provide assistance to 
eligible participants in the 54 designated focus areas (8-digit 
hydrologic unit codes (HUCs)) in the following 13 States: Arkansas, 
Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, 
Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. The purpose of 
this notice is to solicit proposals from potential partners to enter 
into agreements with NRCS and to inform agricultural producers and 
landowners of the future availability of program funds through approved 
partnership projects. Proposals must be based on one or more 12-digit 
HUCs within the 54 designated focus areas. Partners who are currently 
involved in approved MRBI agreements through CCPI or WREP and want to 
work in other 12-digit watersheds must submit new proposals for a new 
project.

DATES: Eligible partners may submit proposals for MRBI-CCPI and MRBI-
WREP via email or U.S. Postal Service; however, all proposals must be 
received on or before March 19, 2012.

ADDRESSES: Applicants are encouraged to submit proposals electronically 
to MRBI-CCPI@wdc.usda.gov for CCPI and MRBI-WREP@wdc.usda.gov for WREP. 
If submitting a paper proposal, the proposal may be mailed to: Martin 
Lowenfish, Acting Team Leader, Conservation Initiatives Team, Natural 
Resources Conservation Service, P.O. Box 2890, Washington, DC 20013.
    Do not send submissions via registered or certified mail. Do not 
send the same proposal both electronically and to the Post Office Box 
address; use only one method to submit a proposal. If submitting more 
than one project proposal, please submit each separately.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Deena Wheby, MRBI Coordinator, 
Conservation Initiatives Team, Natural Resources Conservation Service; 
Telephone: (859) 224-7403 or email: deena.wheby@ky.usda.gov.
    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:

Part A--General WREP and CCPI Proposal Information

Focus Area Watersheds

    Fifty-four focus area (8-digit HUC) 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, phosphorous, and sediment levels in the 
watersheds of the Mississippi River Basin, as well as improve wildlife 
habitat and restore wetlands. The designated 8-digit HUC focus areas 
are listed below. A complete list of the smaller-scale, 12-digit HUC 
sub-watersheds within the designated 8-digit HUC focus areas can be 
found on the MRBI home page. The MRBI home page can be found by 
searching for MRBI at: http://www.nrcs.usda.gov.

                           Designated Focus Areas for the MRBI FY 2012 (8-Digit HUCs)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                             Hydrologic  Unit
              State(s)                      Watershed              Code             Proposals accepted for:
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Arkansas/Missouri..................  Cache.................          08020302  CCPI and/or WREP.
Arkansas...........................  Lake Conway-Point               11110203  CCPI and/or WREP.
                                      Remove.
Arkansas...........................  L'Anguille............          08020205  CCPI and/or WREP.
Arkansas/Missouri..................  Lower St. Francis.....          08020203  CCPI and/or WREP.
Arkansas...........................  Bayou Meto............          08020402  CCPI and/or WREP.
Arkansas...........................  Lower White...........          08020303  CCPI and/or WREP.
Arkansas...........................  Lower White-Bayou Des           08020301  CCPI and/or WREP.
                                      Arc.
Arkansas...........................  Lower Arkansas........          08020401  CCPI and/or WREP.
Arkansas...........................  Big...................          08020304  CCPI and/or WREP.
Arkansas/Kentucky/Missouri/          Lower Mississippi--             08010100  WREP only.
 Tennessee.                           Memphis.
Arkansas/Mississippi...............  Lower Mississippi--             08020100  WREP only.
                                      Helena.
Arkansas/Louisiana/Mississippi.....  Lower Mississippi--             08030100  WREP only.
                                      Greenville.
Illinois...........................  Lower Illinois-                 07130001  CCPI and/or WREP.
                                      Senachwine Lake.
Illinois...........................  Vermillion (Upper               07130002  CCPI and/or WREP.
                                      Mississippi River sub-
                                      basin).
Illinois/Indiana...................  Vermillion (Upper Ohio          05120109  CCPI and/or WREP.
                                      River sub-basin).

[[Page 74]]

 
Indiana............................  Eel...................          05120104  CCPI and/or WREP.
Indiana............................  Upper East Fork White.          05120206  CCPI and/or WREP.
Indiana............................  Wildcat...............          05120107  CCPI and/or WREP.
Indiana/Ohio.......................  Upper Wabash..........          05120101  CCPI and/or WREP.
Iowa...............................  Boone.................          07100005  CCPI and/or WREP.
Iowa...............................  Maquoketa.............          07060006  CCPI and/or WREP.
Iowa...............................  North Raccoon.........          07100006  CCPI and/or WREP.
Iowa/Minnesota.....................  Upper Cedar...........          07080201  CCPI and/or WREP.
Kentucky/Tennessee.................  Bayou De Chien-                 08010201  CCPI and/or WREP.
                                      Mayfield.
Kentucky...........................  Licking...............          05100101  CCPI and/or WREP.
Kentucky...........................  Lower Green...........          05110005  CCPI and/or WREP.
Louisiana..........................  Mermentau.............          08080202  CCPI and/or WREP.
Louisiana..........................  Lower Mississippi--             08070100  WREP only.
                                      Baton Rouge.
Louisiana/Arkansas.................  Bayou Macon...........          08050002  CCPI and/or WREP.
Louisiana/Arkansas.................  Boeuf River...........          08050001  CCPI and/or WREP.
Louisiana/Mississippi..............  Lower Mississippi--             08060100  WREP only.
                                      Natchez.
Minnesota..........................  Middle Minnesota......          07020007  CCPI and/or WREP.
Minnesota..........................  Root..................          07040008  CCPI and/or WREP.
Minnesota..........................  Sauk..................          07010202  CCPI and/or WREP.
Mississippi........................  Big Sunflower.........          08030207  CCPI and/or WREP.
Mississippi/Louisiana/Arkansas.....  Deer-Steele...........          08030209  CCPI and/or WREP.
Mississippi........................  Upper Yazoo...........          08030206  CCPI and/or WREP.
Missouri/Iowa......................  Lower Grand...........          10280103  CCPI and/or WREP.
Mississippi........................  Coldwater Creek.......          08030204  CCPI and/or WREP.
Missouri...........................  North Fork Salt.......          07110005  CCPI and/or WREP.
Missouri...........................  South Fork Salt.......          07110006  CCPI and/or WREP.
Missouri/Arkansas..................  Little River Ditches..          08020204  CCPI and/or WREP.
Ohio/Indiana.......................  Upper Great Miami.....          05080001  CCPI and/or WREP.
Ohio...............................  Upper Scioto..........          05060001  CCPI and/or WREP.
Tennessee..........................  Forked Deer...........          08010206  CCPI and/or WREP.
Tennessee/Kentucky.................  Obion.................          08010202  CCPI and/or WREP.
Tennessee..........................  South Fork Obion......          08010203  CCPI and/or WREP.
Tennessee/Kentucky.................  Red River.............          05130206  CCPI and/or WREP.
South Dakota/Minnesota.............  Upper Minnesota.......          07020001  CCPI and/or WREP.
Wisconsin/Illinois.................  Upper Rock............          07090001  CCPI and/or WREP.
Wisconsin..........................  Kickapoo..............          07070006  CCPI and/or WREP.
Wisconsin..........................  Middle Rock...........          07090002  CCPI and/or WREP.
Wisconsin/Iowa.....................  Grant-Little Maquoketa          07060003  CCPI and/or WREP.
Wisconsin/Minnesota................  Rush-Vermillion.......          07040001  CCPI and/or WREP.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Under MRBI, NRCS works with partners through CCPI and WREP to help 
address conservation concerns and opportunities within the watershed of 
the Mississippi River Basin. In approved MRBI-CCPI project areas, NRCS 
will make Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), Conservation 
Stewardship Program (CSP), and Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program 
(WHIP) funds available to eligible producers consistent with the 
proposal design as much as possible. In approved MRBI-WREP project 
areas, funds are available through the Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP).

Proposal Submission, Review, and Notification

    Potential partners are highly encouraged to submit proposals to the 
email address provided in the ``Addresses'' section of this notice. If 
the proposal is submitted in hard copy, the potential partner must 
submit two copies of the proposal, typewritten or printed on 8-1/
2 x 11 white paper. The entire project proposal, 
not including letters of support, cannot exceed 12 pages in length 
including a summary, responses to the information requested in this 
Federal Register, maps, and other supporting documents. The proposal 
must address, in sufficient detail, all the criteria outlined in the 
``Proposal Requirements'' section of this notice in order to be 
considered.
    MRBI-CCPI and MRBI-WREP proposals submitted to NRCS become the 
property of the agency 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 for review 
and ranking, there will be no further opportunity for the potential 
partner to change or re-submit the proposal; however, NRCS may request 
certain changes before finalizing the selection and approval of a 
project. Incomplete proposals or 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. Partner 
proposals may be withdrawn by written notice to Deena Wheby, MRBI 
Coordinator, Conservation Initiatives Team, at any time prior to 
selection (see ADDRESSES section in this notice).
    NRCS will review, evaluate, and rank proposals based on the 
criteria set forth in the respective ``Proposal Requirements'' sections 
of this notice for both MRBI-CCPI and MRBI-WREP. Potential partners 
should recognize that the proposal is the only document NRCS will use 
in the evaluation process. The proposal must request NRCS program funds 
for obligation beginning in FY 2012 (October 1, 2011-September 30, 
2012). Proposals which request funding with obligation starting after 
FY 2012 will not be evaluated or considered under this request for 
proposals.
    Partners whose proposals have been selected will receive an 
official letter of

[[Page 75]]

notification. Upon notification of selection, the partner should 
contact the appropriate State Conservationist(s) to develop the 
required partnership agreement and other project implementation 
requirements. Potential partners should note that, depending upon 
available funding and agency priorities, NRCS may offer a reduced 
amount of program financial assistance from what was requested in the 
proposal and may require adjustments to the proposal as a condition of 
approval to meet program or other requirements. Partner submissions of 
proposals that are not selected will also be notified by mail.

State Conservationist(s) Proposal Review

    Once a project proposal is received, the agency will provide a copy 
of it to the appropriate State Conservationist(s). State 
Conservationist(s) will review the proposals to:
    (a) Document potential duplication with other projects or existing 
programs;
    (b) Confirm adherence to and consistency with program regulations, 
including requirements related to land and landowner eligibility and 
other program requirements;
    (c) Address expected benefits for project implementation in their 
State(s);
    (d) For multi-State proposals, coordinate with all State 
Conservationists involved in the proposal to verify concurrence and 
support for the project;
    (e) Identify other issues or concerns that should be considered; 
and
    (f) Provide a recommendation, along with justification, to the NRCS 
Chief for approval or disapproval of the project.

Waiver Authority

    To assist in the implementation of approved WREP and CCPI projects, 
the Chief may waive the applicability of the Adjusted Gross Income 
Limitation, on a case-by-case basis, in accordance with 7 CFR part 
1400. Such waiver requests must be submitted in writing from the 
program applicant, not the sponsoring partner, addressed to the Chief, 
through the local NRCS designated conservationist.

Part B--The Cooperative Conservation Partnership Initiative Component 
of MRBI

    To improve the health of the watersheds within the Mississippi 
River Basin, NRCS and its partners will help producers to voluntarily 
implement conservation practices that avoid, control, and trap nutrient 
runoff; improve wildlife habitat; restore wetlands; and maintain 
agricultural productivity. These improvements will be accomplished 
through a conservation systems approach to address water quality, 
wetland, and wildlife related resource concerns. NRCS will provide 
producers assistance in implementing a suite of practices that will 
reduce the impacts of nutrients and sediment leaving agricultural 
fields. In the Lower Mississippi River Basin States, practices may also 
address water quantity as a compatible resource concern with water 
quality as the primary resource concern.

Overview of the CCPI

    The CCPI is a voluntary conservation initiative that enables the 
use of certain conservation programs, combined with resources from 
eligible partners, to provide financial and technical assistance to 
owners and operators of agricultural and nonindustrial private forest 
lands in order to enhance conservation outcomes and achieve resource 
conservation objectives. The functions of CCPI can best be described in 
two parts: CCPI partnerships and CCPI program participation.
CCPI Partnerships
    Under CCPI, eligible potential partners may submit proposals 
addressing the criteria that are outlined in this request for 
proposals. Partners who may enter into partnership agreements with NRCS 
include federally recognized Indian Tribes, State and local units of 
government, producer associations, farmer cooperatives, institutions of 
higher education, and nongovernmental organizations which have a 
history of working cooperatively with producers to effectively address 
conservation priorities related to agricultural production and 
nonindustrial private forest land. Individual agricultural producers 
are not eligible partner entities and may not submit CCPI proposals. 
However, individual agricultural producers can participate by applying 
for program assistance in the approved proposal areas through their 
local NRCS office.
    Proposals will be evaluated through a competitive review process. 
After selection, the partners will enter into a partnership agreement 
with NRCS. The partnership agreement will not obligate funds, but as 
applicable, will address the following:
    (a) Role of the partner;
    (b) Role of NRCS;
    (c) Responsibilities of the partner as it relates to the monitoring 
and evaluation;
    (d) Frequency and duration of monitoring and evaluation to be 
completed by the partner;
    (e) Format and frequency of reports that are required as a 
condition of the partnership agreement;
    (f) Budget which includes other funding sources (if applicable) for 
financial and technical assistance;
    (g) Specified project schedule and timeframe; and
    (h) Other requirements deemed necessary by NRCS to further the 
purposes of MRBI.
    Where flexibility is needed to meet project objectives, the partner 
may request that program adjustments be allowed, provided such 
adjustments are within the scope of the applicable programs' statutory 
and regulatory program authorities. An example of an adjustment may be 
to expedite the applicable program ranking process in a situation where 
a partner has identified the producers approved to participate in the 
project. Other examples of flexibilities are payment percentage rates, 
or use of a single area-wide conservation plan of operations rather 
than individual conservation plans of operation. An example of an 
ineligible flexibility would be to request funds for activities that do 
not meet NRCS conservation practice standards.
    CCPI is not a grant program, and all Federal funds made available 
through this request for proposals will be paid directly to producers 
through program contract agreements. If desired, producers may elect to 
have their payments assigned to another party. No technical assistance 
funding may be provided to a partner through the CCPI partner 
agreement. However, if requested by a partner, the State 
Conservationist may consider development of a separate contribution 
agreement with a qualified partner to provide funding for delivery of 
technical services to producers participating in an approved CCPI 
project.
CCPI Program Participation
    Once the agency approves and announces the selected partner 
projects, eligible agricultural producers located within the approved 
project areas may apply directly to NRCS for funding through one or 
more of the following programs: EQIP, CSP, or WHIP. CCPI uses the 
funds, policies, and processes of these programs to deliver assistance 
to eligible producers to implement approved core and supporting 
conservation practices, enhancements, and activities under MRBI. 
Producers interested in applying must meet the eligibility requirements 
of the program for which they are applying. Individual applications 
from eligible producers will be evaluated and ranked to ensure

[[Page 76]]

that producer applications selected for funding are most likely to 
achieve project objectives. Once applications are selected, the 
producers may enter into one or more contracts or cost-share agreements 
with NRCS within one or more of the programs offered under CCPI. During 
FY 2012, an objective of MRBI-CCPI is to deliver EQIP, CSP, and WHIP 
assistance to producers to achieve MRBI priority conservation 
objectives in geographic areas defined by the partner. Depending upon 
the program available in the project area, the assistance provided 
enables eligible producers to implement conservation practices and 
enhancements, including the development and adoption of innovative 
conservation practices and management approaches.

Availability of Funding

    Effective on the publication date of this notice, the Commodity 
Credit Corporation announces the availability of up to $9 million in 
EQIP and $500,000 in WHIP financial assistance and 140,000 acres in CSP 
for MRBI-CCPI during FY 2012.

Proposal Requirements

    The proposal must include the following. Please provide the 
information in the order as listed below:
    (1) Proposal Cover and Summary:
    (a) Project Title;
    (b) Project director/manager name, telephone number, mailing 
address, and email address;
    (c) Name and contact information for lead partner entity submitting 
proposal and other collaborating partners; and
    (d) Short summary of project including:
    i. Project start and end dates (not to exceed a period of 4 years);
    ii. Designated 12-digit HUC, or contiguous multiple 12-digit HUCs 
sub-watersheds where the project is located, including the State(s) and 
county(s);
    iii. General project objectives and resource concerns to be 
addressed as they relate to MRBI priorities and objectives;
    iv. Total amount of CCPI financial assistance being requested by 
program;
    v. Whether any of the proposed 12-digit project HUCs have 
previously been approved for a MRBI CCPI project; and
    vi. Whether the MRBI-CCPI proposal will be used in conjunction with 
a MRBI-WREP, MRBI-CIG, or other Federal programs to meet MRBI 
objectives. Include the name of the program and the associated Federal 
agency. (Note: Federal funds cannot be used as a match to the funds 
provided by NRCS.)
    (2) Project Natural Resource Objectives and Concerns:
    (a) Identify and provide detail about the project objectives. 
Objectives should be specific, measureable, achievable, and results-
oriented.
    (b) Identify and provide detail about the natural resource 
concern(s) to be addressed in this project. Include in this description 
how the proposal objectives will address the priority MRBI resource 
concerns of water quality, wetland restoration, and improved wildlife 
habitat. Water quantity may be addressed as a complementary resource 
concern in the Lower Mississippi River Basin States. Potential partners 
will work with the State Conservationist(s) to ensure the priority 
resource concerns are addressed by utilizing approved conservation 
practices, enhancements and activities, and conservation program 
requirements. A list of NRCS approved natural resource concerns for 
MRBI may be found on the MRBI Web site which can be found by searching 
for MRBI at http://www.nrcs.usda.gov.
    (3) Detailed Project Description:
    (a) A detailed description of the geographic area covered by the 
proposal, including:
    i. Types of land uses to be treated; and
    ii. The location and size of the proposed project area, and what 
12-digit HUC sub-watershed(s) the project will be within.
    (b) A detailed map showing the project area. Include on the map:
    i. Outlined areas that need conservation treatments;
    ii. Location where conservation treatments are needed; and
    iii. Priority order for the different areas to be treated.
    (c) A description of the project timeline. Include:
    i. Duration of the project, not to exceed 4 consecutive years in 
length beginning in FY 2012;
    ii. Project implementation schedule that details when different 
objectives and conservation practices and enhancements will be 
completed;
    iii. When partner and Federal resources will be used within the 
timeframe of the project. Include the total amount of financial 
assistance funds requested for each fiscal year of the project to be 
made available for producer contracts and cost-share agreements (for 
multi-State projects, provide the funds or acres by State as 
appropriate); and
    iv. When the final project report will be submitted.
    (d) A description of the plan for evaluating and reporting on 
progress made toward achieving the objectives of the agreement.
    (e) Identify potential criteria to be used by NRCS to prioritize 
and rank agricultural producers' applications for EQIP, CSP, and WHIP 
in the project area. Potential partners should collaborate with NRCS to 
develop meaningful criteria that NRCS can use to evaluate and rank 
producer program applications. This will ensure that producer 
applications which will best accomplish MRBI objectives will be 
selected.
    (f) An estimate of the percentage of producers, including 
nonindustrial private forest landowners, in the project area that may 
participate in the project along with an estimate of the total number 
of producers located in the project area. Provide details about 
additional information such as how the partner will encourage producer 
participation; does the project include any Tribal producers, beginning 
farmers or ranchers, socially disadvantaged farmers or ranchers, or 
limited resource farmers or ranchers; and are there groups of producers 
who may submit joint applications to address resource issues of common 
interest and need.
    (g) A listing and description of the approved MRBI-CCPI core 
conservation practices, conservation activity plans, enhancements, and 
partner activities to be implemented during the project timeframe and 
the general sequence of implementation of the project. Information 
about approved MRBI-CCPI EQIP, WHIP, and CSP practices, enhancements, 
and activities can be accessed at http://www.nrcs.usda.gov. Only the 
conservation practices listed, which are available in the applicable 
State's Field Office Technical Guide, are eligible for use in MRBI. For 
each conservation practice, estimate the amount of practice extent 
(feet, acres, number, etc.) the partner expects producers to implement 
and the amount of financial assistance requested to support 
implementation of each practice through producer contracts.
    (h) Also address technical assistance efforts that will be made by 
the partner. Describe any activities that are innovative and include 
outcome-based performance measures, such as water quality monitoring, 
to be implemented by the partner.
    (i) Indicate whether the project will address specific regulatory 
compliance and any other outcomes the partner expects to complete 
during the project period.
    (j) A detailed description of any requested adjustments, by 
program, with an explanation of why the adjustment is needed in order 
to achieve the objectives of the project. Requested adjustments or 
flexibilities must comply with statutory and regulatory requirements.

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    (k) A science-based description of how the proposal's objectives 
also may provide additional benefits by addressing energy conservation 
or mitigating the effects of climate change, if applicable.
    (l) If applicable, a detailed description of a plan to conduct 
water quality monitoring and evaluation and the reporting of progress 
made toward achieving MRBI objectives and desired outcomes. NRCS is 
especially interested in proposals that adopt a three-tiered monitoring 
and evaluation approach designed to assess environmental outcomes at 
the edge-of-field, in-stream, and at the 12-digit HUC level; however, 
only those partners with the capacity to implement monitoring and 
evaluation at these three tiers, or a partnership with an entity that 
has agreed to perform this task, should include this in the project 
proposal. Capacity includes the ability, expertise, available staff, 
and any needed financial assistance beyond CCPI funding to conduct 
monitoring and evaluation including identification of monitoring 
locations, collection and analysis of samples, reporting of results, 
etc.. If an entity other than the applicant entity will be responsible 
for monitoring and evaluation, a letter of commitment is to be included 
with the project proposal submission. Higher priority will be given to 
projects that adopt this three-tiered approach where the partner 
provides resources or technical services to carry it out. Higher 
priority will also be given to projects that utilize environmental 
indicators to assess water quality and evaluate effects of conservation 
systems and activities implemented through the project at the edge-of-
field level in conjunction with in-stream and 12-digit HUC monitoring. 
Information concerning water quality monitoring and evaluation can be 
found at on the MRBI home page. The MRBI home page can be found by 
searching for MRBI at http://www.nrcs.usda.gov.
    (4) Partner Description:
    (a) A description of the partner(s) history of working with 
agricultural producers to address conservation priorities;
    (b) A description of how the partner(s) will collaborate to achieve 
the objectives of the agreement including:
    i. The roles, responsibilities, and capabilities of the partner(s); 
and
    ii. The financial or technical commitments of each of the 
partner(s) and how they will be leveraged by the Federal contribution 
through EQIP, WHIP, CSP, or a combination of the three. Include 
specifically what commitments will be used toward water quality 
monitoring needs. If partners who do not submit the proposal intend to 
commit resources, a letter or other documentation from these partners 
confirming a commitment of specified resources is required.
    (c) A description of the resources (financial and technical 
assistance) requested from each of the applicable NRCS programs (EQIP, 
WHIP, and CSP) and the non-Federal resources provided by the partner 
that will be leveraged by the Federal contribution. Partners need to 
clearly state, by project objective, how they intend to leverage 
Federal funds along with partner resources. The funding and time 
contribution by agricultural producers to implement agreed-to 
conservation practices and enhancements in program contracts will not 
be considered any part of a match from the potential partner for 
purposes of CCPI.
    (d) A description of how the partner will facilitate the submission 
of landowner applications;
    (e) A description of how the partner will provide for outreach to 
beginning farmers or ranchers, limited resource farmers or ranchers, 
socially disadvantaged farmers or ranchers, and Indian Tribes.

National Ranking Considerations

    The agency will evaluate proposals using a national competitive 
process. A higher priority may be given to proposals that:
    (a) Have a high percentage of producers actively farming or 
managing working agricultural or nonindustrial private forest lands 
included in the proposed project area;
    (b) Significantly leverage non-Federal financial and technical 
resources and coordinate with other local, State, or Federal efforts. 
This includes resources committed to provide for water quality 
monitoring and evaluation of conservation practices;
    (c) Integrate both WREP and CCPI within a project area;
    (d) Deliver high percentages of applied conservation practices to 
address water quality, wildlife habitat, and wetland restoration;
    (e) Provide innovation in approved conservation practices, 
conservation methods, and delivery, including outcome-based performance 
measures and methods such as adaptive management strategies;
    (f) Complete the application of the conservation practices and 
activities on all of the covered program contracts or cost-share 
agreements in 4 years or less;
    (g) Assist the participants in meeting local, State, and Federal 
regulatory requirements;
    (h) Provide for environmental monitoring and evaluation of 
conservation practices, enhancements, and activities, which includes 
the ability, expertise, available staff, and any needed financial 
assistance beyond CCPI funding to conduct monitoring and evaluation 
including identification of monitoring locations, collection and 
analysis of samples, reporting of results, etc.;
    (i) 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 
proposed project area;
    (j) Have a high potential to achieve MRBI water quality objectives 
of nitrogen, phosphorous, and sediment reductions leaving the field; 
and
    (k) Identify other factors and criteria which best achieve the 
purposes of MRBI-CCPI.

Part C--The Wetlands Reserve Enhancement Program Component of MRBI

Availability of Funding

    Effective upon publication of this notice, NRCS on behalf of the 
CCC, announces that within the designated focus areas in the 
Mississippi River Basin Watersheds, up to $25 million in financial 
assistance funds are available in FY 2012 for WREP to eligible 
participants through approved partnership projects within the 54 
designated 8-digit HUC focus area watersheds in the following states: 
Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, 
Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.
    Under WREP, NRCS enters into multi-year agreements with eligible 
State and local governments, nongovernmental organizations, and Indian 
Tribes to target and leverage resources to carry out high priority 
wetland protection, restoration, and enhancement activities; and 
improve water quality and wildlife habitat. Eligible partners should 
submit complete proposals to the addresses listed in this notice 
addressing the MRBI conservation objectives to be achieved in one or 
more 12-digit HUC watersheds within the 54 eligible 8-digit HUC focus 
area watersheds. Proposals that integrate a MRBI-WREP proposal with a 
MRBI-CCPI project in one or more 12-digit HUC watersheds will be given 
additional consideration in the selection process.

Overview

    WREP is a voluntary conservation program which is a component of 
WRP. WREP leverages resources of eligible partners to provide financial 
assistance

[[Page 78]]

to eligible landowners to protect, restore, and enhance high priority 
wetlands; improve wildlife habitat; and improve water quality. WREP 
partners are required to contribute a match as detailed in the proposal 
requirement section at 3(e). Proposals which include additional partner 
resources will be given higher priority consideration in the selection 
process.
    WREP financial assistance is delivered to eligible landowners and 
partners 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 who conduct the restoration activities.
    Only States and local units of government, Indian Tribes, and 
nongovernmental organizations are eligible to submit a proposal and 
enter into agreements with NRCS. A nongovernmental organization is an 
organization described in section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue 
Code of 1986. Individual landowners may not submit WREP proposals 
through this submission process. However, once a WREP project has been 
approved and announced, eligible landowners may apply for WREP through 
their local NRCS office. As part of the agreement, approved partners 
may also help facilitate the submission of landowner applications, 
provide additional technical or financial assistance to landowners, and 
provide other resources as defined in the agreement.
    Written proposals are to be submitted by eligible partners, and 
project evaluation will be based upon a competitive process and the 
criteria established in this notice. Once NRCS selects a partner's 
proposal, landowners within the selected project area may submit an 
application directly to NRCS for participation in WRP. Individual 
landowner applications will be evaluated and ranked along with other 
applications in the watershed or geographic project area, when 
applicable, to ensure that the properties selected for funding will 
achieve project objectives.
    Wetland restoration and enhancement actions will be designed to 
improve water quality and maximize wildlife habitat benefits and 
wetland functions and values according to the WRP regulation, 7 CFR 
part 1467, and NRCS conservation practice standards. Additionally, the 
successful restoration of land and the resultant wetland values must 
take into consideration the cost of such restoration, as required by 
the WRP statute and reflected in the WRP regulation at 7 CFR part 
1467.4. Proposals must conform to the WRP guidelines for restoration 
and management of lands subject to a WRP easement.
    Benefits to the partners in WREP agreements include:
     Involvement in wetland restorations in high priority MRBI 
focus areas;
     Ability to cost-share restoration or enhancement 
components beyond those required by NRCS;
     Ability to participate in management or monitoring of 
selected project locations; and
     Opportunity to utilize innovative restoration methods and 
practices.

Land Eligibility

    The land eligibility criteria for WREP are the same as for WRP and 
are listed in 7 CFR 1467.4.

Proposal Requirements

    For consideration, the proposal must be in the following format and 
contain the information set forth below.
    (1) Proposal Cover and Summary. The first few pages of the proposal 
must include--
    (a) Project Title.
    (b) Project Director/Manager name, telephone, mailing address, and 
email address.
    (c) Name and contact information for lead partner submitting 
proposal and other collaborating partners.
    (d) Short general summary of project, including:
    (i) Potential acres to be enrolled in the project area,
    (ii) Designated 12-digit watershed(s) where the project is located, 
including the State(s), and county(s). Include a general location map,
    (iii) Proposed project start and end dates that do not exceed 4 
consecutive years including FY 2012,
    (iv) The project objectives and resource concerns to be addressed, 
and
    (v) Total amount of financial assistance being requested.
    (2) Project Natural Resource Objectives and Actions. The proposal 
must--
    (a) Identify and provide detail about the wildlife and water 
quality concerns to be addressed and how the proposal's objectives will 
address those concerns. Objectives should be specific, measurable, 
achievable, results-oriented, and include a timeline 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 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 Project Description. Information provided in the 
proposal must include--
    (a) A description of the partner(s) history of working 
cooperatively with landowners on conservation easements.
    (b) A description of the watershed characteristics within the 
designated focus area covered by the proposal including a detailed 
watershed map that indicates the project location. The description 
should include information related to land use types, vegetation, 
soils, hydrology, potential sources of water quality impairments, 
occurrences of at-risk species, proximity to other protected areas, and 
a summary of resource concerns. Proposals should state whether a MRBI-
WREP proposal is integrated with a MRBI-CCPI proposed project and 
include the name of the 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 4 
years.
    (e) A description of the financial assistance resources that are 
requested through WREP, and the non-Federal resources provided by the 
partner(s) that will be leveraged by the Federal contribution. WREP 
requires partners to contribute a match of:
    (i) In-kind only contributions of at least 20 percent of the 
restoration costs,
    (ii) cash only contributions of at least 5 percent of the 
restoration costs, or
    (iii) a combination of in-kind and cash contributions of at least 
20 percent of the restoration costs.
    Proposals which include additional partner resources will be given 
additional consideration in the selection process. Contributions 
provided by the partners to achieve additional ranking points can be in 
the form of technical or financial assistance for the protection, 
restoration, and enhancement of the wetland. Contributions can also be 
in the form of assistance with management and monitoring activities. 
Contributions above the match requirement can be cash or in-kind 
equipment or services. Partners may provide incentives to landowners to 
participate in WREP;

[[Page 79]]

however, incentive payments will not be considered part of the match 
requirement. Incentives include sign-up bonuses, practice incentive 
payments, or similar activities not funded through WRP.
    (f) Total budget for the project including all partner resources 
which will be leveraged for the project and the amount of WREP 
financial assistance being requested for project broken out by fiscal 
year with totals. Include a description of the amount of funds needed 
annually for easement acquisition and wetland restoration and 
enhancement activities.
    (g) A description of non-Federal resources that will be available 
for implementation of the proposal. Proposals which include additional 
non-Federal resources will be given higher consideration in the 
selection process. The partner needs to state clearly how they intend 
to leverage Federal funds along with partner resources. Landowner 
contributions in the implementation of agreed-to wetland restoration 
and enhancement practices may not be considered any part of a match 
from the potential partner for purposes of WREP. Partners will also be 
required to submit a plan for monitoring, evaluating, and reporting 
progress made toward achieving the objectives of the agreement.
    (h) An estimate of the percentage of potential landowners, or 
estimate of the percentage of acres likely to be enrolled within the 
project area, compared to the total number of potential landowners or 
acres located in the project area. A statement on how the partner will 
encourage participation to guarantee success of the project. It is not 
necessary for a target area to involve multiple landowners to be 
selected. Projects will be evaluated based on the ecological merits of 
the proposal and contributions by the partners.
    (i) A statement describing how the partner will provide outreach, 
especially to encourage participation by Indian Tribes, beginning 
farmers or ranchers, socially disadvantaged farmers or ranchers, and 
limited resource farmers or ranchers.
    (j) 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.

National Ranking Considerations

    The appropriate State Conservationist will evaluate proposals and 
forward recommendations, with justification, to the NRCS Chief for 
review and selection. The Chief will give a higher priority to 
proposals that:
    (a) Have a high potential to achieve wetland restoration;
    (b) Have a high potential to significantly improve water quality;
    (c) Have a high potential to significantly improve wildlife 
habitat;
    (d) Have a high potential to remove frequently flooded lands from 
agricultural production returning lands to more natural conditions;
    (e) Significantly leverage non-Federal financial and technical 
resources and coordinate with other local, State, tribal, or Federal 
efforts;
    (f) Demonstrate the partner's history of working cooperatively with 
landowners on conservation easements;
    (g) Provide innovation in wetland protection, restoration, 
enhancement, and management methods and outcome-based performance 
measures and methods;
    (h) Provide evidence that wetland restoration and enhancement 
activities will be completed within 2 years of easement closing;
    (i) Provide for monitoring and evaluation of the effectiveness of 
the restoration activities on water quality;
    (j) Provide for matching financial or technical assistance funds to 
assist landowners with the implementation of the Wetlands Reserve Plan 
of Operations and associated contracts;
    (k) Facilitate the submission of landowner applications;
    (l) Provide for outreach to, and participation of, Indian Tribes, 
beginning farmers or ranchers, socially disadvantaged farmers or 
ranchers, and limited resource farmers or ranchers within the area 
covered by the agreement; and
    (m) Integrate a MRBI-WREP proposal with a MRBI-CCPI proposed or 
approved project.

Partnership Agreements

    Upon proposal selection, NRCS will enter an agreement with a 
partner as the mechanism for partner participation in WREP. At a 
minimum, the agreement will address:
    (a) The role of the partner;
    (b) The role of NRCS;
    (c) The format and frequency of reports that is required as a 
condition of the agreement;
    (d) The Plan of Work and budget to identify other funding sources 
(if applicable) for financial or technical assistance;
    (e) The specified project schedule and timeframe;
    (f) Whether the agreement will serve as an obligating document or 
whether funds will be obligated under a separate agreement with the 
partner or with a third party; and
    (g) Other requirements deemed necessary by NRCS to achieve purposes 
of the WRP.

Landowner Application

    Landowners must meet the eligibility requirements of WRP, as 
published in 7 CFR part 1467. Landowners interested in participating 
may apply for designated WREP funds at their local service center after 
WREP proposals are selected. In FY 2012, NRCS will make WREP funds 
available to eligible landowners to enroll land under a permanent 
easement, a 30-year easement, a 30-year contract on acreage owned by 
Indian Tribes, or through a Restoration Agreement.
    NRCS and the partner may 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.

    Signed the 22nd day of December, 2011, in Washington, DC.
Dave White,
Vice President, Commodity Credit Corporation and Chief, Natural 
Resources Conservation Service.
[FR Doc. 2011-33692 Filed 12-30-11; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3410-16-P