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Request for Proposals From the Western Native Trout Initiative

The Western Native Trout Initiative (WNTI) and our partners are proud to announce our Request for Project Proposals for federal FY2024 National Fish Habitat Partnership (NFHP) program funding. As one of 20 federally recognized Fish Habitat Partnerships, WNTI is a collaborative effort between 12 western states, three federal agencies, sovereign tribes, private businesses and individuals, non-governmental conservation groups, and other organizations that seek to cooperatively conserve (protect, restore, enhance, and recover) 21 western native trout and char species and sub-species across their historic range. WNTI works to achieve this vision by funding locally-based efforts that raise awareness for the importance of native trout and focus limited financial and human resources toward the highest-impact, locally led, on-the-ground projects.

While WNTI is supported by different entities and partners, project funding through this RFP is made available to grantees annually through the NFHP program.

America’s Conservation Enhancement (ACE) Act

America’s Conservation Enhancement (ACE) Act was passed by Congress and signed by the President on October 30, 2020.  Importantly, the legislation made significant changes to project requirements to be eligible for NFHP funding.  The ACE Act places an emphasis on restoration efforts that will improve recreational fishing opportunities and public use of the resource.  Improvements in public access as a component of projects are also encouraged. Some specific requirements include:

  • Requested NFHP grant funds must be matched 1:1 with non-federal funds. Non-federal match can include cash and/or in-kind labor, materials, or equipment if there are no federal ties to those funds. State agency funds can be used for the non-federal match if labor and/or materials are not being matched to another federal grant. State agency funds that are used to match other federal grants would not be eligible as match.
  • All NFHP funded projects must include an outreach/education component.
  • Monitoring and evaluation measures must be included as part of the project application.
  • The ACE Act included special considerations for Tribes that we are still awaiting interpretation of.  Please contact WNTI’s Coordinator if you have a project on Tribal land.
  • The ACE Act allows a state, local government, or other non-federal entity to receive NFHP funds for the acquisition of real property from willing sellers if the acquisition ensures public access for fish and wildlife-dependent recreation or contributes a scientifically based, direct enhancement to the health of fish and fish populations as determined by the NFHP Board.  All real property acquisition projects funded with NFHP funds must be approved by the state agency in the state in which the project is occurring.   Please contact WNTI’s Coordinator if you have a project request that includes real property acquisition.

Applications will be reviewed and ranked by the WNTI Steering Committee based on their ability to meet the partnership’s key priorities and strategic objectives.

Available Funding

WNTI anticipates receiving between $150,000 and $230,000 in NFHP funds for FY2024 projects. The exact amount of funding available to the partnership varies annually and is not known at this time.  This is a very competitive process and for the last seven years the pool of applicants has exceeded the available pool of funding.  Typical funding per project is in the range of $25K-$50K.  Successful proposals must demonstrate a minimum 1:1 non-federal match, which may include cash, time, materials, or other services. State agency funds can be used for the non-federal match if labor and/or materials are not being used as match for another federal grant. State agency funds that are used to match other federal grants would not be eligible as match. Once the requested NFHP grant funds are matched with non-federal funds/in-kind, an unlimited amount of federal contributions to the project are allowed. WNTI gives special consideration to projects with more than the minimum match.

NFHP National Conservation Priorities

FY2024 project proposals must fall under at least one of the NFHP National Conservation Priorities (NCPs).  More detail about priorities and example strategies that fall under each NFHP Priority can be found here.

  1. Conserve waters and habitats where all processes and functions are operating within their expected range or natural variation.
  2. Conserve hydrologic conditions for fish.
  3. Conserve physical and living habitats and features that support viable and sustainable species and/or populations in impacted or at-risk systems.
  4. Reconnect fragmented fish habitats.
  5. Conserve water quality for fish.
  6. Support the structure and function of Fish Habitat Partnerships (FHPs).
  7. Enhance recreational, commercial, subsistence, and traditional fishing opportunities when conducting projects that conserve fish habitat.

WNTI’s Priorities: As a National Fish Habitat Partnership, WNTI’s #1 priority is the protection and restoration of habitat for western native trout and char species. Under this broad priority, we consider actions that achieve the following to be our highest priority:
A. Actions that provide long-term protection of intact and healthy aquatic ecosystems that support priority populations.
B. Restoration projects.

WNTI’s FY2024 Species of Emphasis: Up to 75% of WNTI’s NFHP funding could go toward the Species of Emphasis listed below for the years indicated.  Projects submitted for funding must also support WNTI’s priorities listed above to benefit these species.

  • NFHP project funding awarded in calendar years 2021-2024:  Colorado River Cutthroat Trout, Lahontan Cutthroat Trout, Westslope Cutthroat Trout, Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout.

Proposals for NFHP funding for WNTI’s other focal species will still be considered but will need to meet a high standard in terms of project quality and impact to one or more of our 21 focal species in their historic ranges order to be funded.

Applications are due by 5:00 p.m. Mountain time on Monday January 23, 2023.

All applications for the RFP are submitted through our online application portal. The RFP announcement and all documentation with specific guidance for completing the application and a link to the online portal is available on the WNTI website. Late or incomplete applications will be not accepted.

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