[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 31 (Wednesday, February 15, 2012)]
[Notices]
[Pages 8801-8803]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-3528]


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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Forest Service


Request for Applications: The Community Forest and Open Space 
Conservation Program

AGENCY: Forest Service, USDA.

ACTION: Request for applications.

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SUMMARY: The Department of Agriculture (USDA), Forest Service, State 
and Private Forestry, Cooperative Forestry staff, requests applications 
for the Community Forest and Open Space Conservation Program (Community 
Forest Program or CFP). This is a competitive grant program whereby 
local governments, qualified nonprofit organizations, and Indian tribes 
are eligible to apply for grants to establish community forests through 
fee simple acquisition of private forest land. The purpose of the 
program is to establish community forests by protecting forest land 
from conversion to non-forest uses and provide community benefits such 
as sustainable forest management, environmental benefits including 
clean air, water, and wildlife habitat; benefits from forest-based 
educational programs; benefits from serving as models of effective 
forest stewardship; and recreational benefits secured with public 
access.
    Eligible lands for grants funded under this program are private 
forest that is at least five acres in size, suitable to sustain natural 
vegetation, and at least 75 percent forested. The lands must also be 
threatened by conversion to non-forest uses, must not be held in trust 
by the United States on behalf of any Indian tribe or allotment lands, 
and if acquired by an eligible entity, must provide defined community 
benefits under CFP and allow public access.

DATES: Application deadline is May 15, 2012 for submitting applications 
to the State Forester or equivalent official of the Indian tribe and 
June 14, 2012 for State Forester or equivalent official of the Indian 
tribe submitting the applications to the Forest Service.

ADDRESSES: All local governments' and qualified nonprofit 
organizations' applications must be submitted to the State Forester of 
the State where the property is located. All Indian tribal applications 
must be submitted to the equivalent official of the Indian tribe. The 
Forest Service encourages applicants to contact and work with their 
State Forester or equivalent official of the Indian tribe when 
developing their proposal. The State Forester's contact information may 
be found at http://www.fs.fed.us/spf/coop/programs/loa/cfp.shtml.
    All applicants must also send an email to communityforest@fs.fed.us 
to confirm an application has been submitted for funding consideration.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For questions regarding the grant 
application or administrative regulations, contact Kathryn Conant, 
Program Manager, 202-401-4072, kconant@fs.fed.us or Maya Solomon, 
Program Coordinator, 202-205-1376, mayasolomon@fs.fed.us.
    Individuals who use telecommunication devices for the deaf (TDD) 
may call the Federal Relay Service (FRS) at 1-800-877-8339 twenty-four 
hours a day, every day of the year, including holidays.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:
    CFDA number 10.689: To address the goals of Section 7A of the 
Cooperative Forestry Assistance Act of 1978 (16 U.S.C. 2103d), the 
Forest Service is requesting proposals for community forest projects 
that protect forest land that has been identified as a national, 
regional, or local priority for protection and to assist communities in 
acquiring forestland that will provide public recreation, environmental 
and economic benefits, and forest-based educational programs.
    Detailed information regarding what to include in the application, 
definitions of terms, eligibility, and necessary prerequisites for 
consideration can be found in the final program rule, published October 
20, 2011 (76 FR 65121-65133), which is available at www.fs.fed.us/spf/
coop/programs/loa/cfp.shtml and at www.grants.gov (Opportunity number 
CFP-FS-1002011).

Grant Application Requirements

1. Eligibility Information

    a. Eligible Applicants. A local governmental entity, Indian Tribe 
(including Alaska Native Corporations), or a qualified nonprofit 
organization that is qualified to acquire and manage land, as defined 
at Sec.  230.2 of the final rule. Individuals are not eligible to 
receive funds through this program.

[[Page 8802]]

    b. Cost Sharing (Matching Requirement). All applicants must 
demonstrate a 50 percent match of the total project cost. The match can 
include cash, in-kind services, or donations, which shall be from a 
non-Federal source. Additional requirements and information are found 
in Sec.  230.6 of the final rule at www.fs.fed.us/spf/coop/programs/
loa/cfp.shtml.
    c. DUNS Number. All applicants shall include a Data Universal 
Numbering System (DUNS) number in their application. For this 
requirement, the applicant is the entity that meets the eligibility 
criteria and has the legal authority to apply and receive the grant. 
For assistance in obtaining a DUNS number at no cost, call the DUNS 
number request line 1-866-705-5711 or register on-line at http://fedgov.dnb.com/webform.
    d. Central Contractor. Prospective awardees shall register in the 
Central Contractor Registration (CCR) database prior to award and 
remain registered, during performance, and through final payment of any 
grant resulting from this solicitation. Further information can be 
found at www.ccr.gov. For assistance, contact CCR Assistance Center 1-
866-606-8220.

2. Award Information

    Total CFP funding anticipated for awards made under this program is 
$1.35 million. Individual grant applications may not exceed $400,000. 
Awarding of grants under this program is contingent upon the 
availability of appropriated funds. If additional funds are 
appropriated for CFP in 2012, the Forest Service will award additional 
projects from this solicitation with the additional funds.
    No legal liability on the part of the Government shall be incurred 
until appropriated funds are available and committed by the grant 
officer for this program to the applicant in writing. The initial grant 
period shall be for 2 years, and acquisition of lands should occur 
within that timeframe. The grant may be reasonably extended by the 
Forest Service when necessary to accommodate unforeseen circumstances 
in the land acquisition process. Written annual financial performance 
reports and semi-annual project performance reports shall be required 
and submitted to the appropriate grant officer.

3. Application Information

    Application submission. All local governments and qualified 
nonprofit organizations' applications must be submitted to the State 
Forester where the property is located by May 15, 2012. All Indian 
tribal applications must be submitted to the equivalent official of the 
Indian tribe by May 15, 2012. The State Forester's contact information 
may be found at http://www.fs.fed.us/spf/coop/programs/loa/cfp.shtml.
    All applicants must also send an email to communityforest@fs.fed.us 
to confirm an application has been submitted for funding consideration.
    All State Foresters and equivalent officials of the Indian tribes 
must forward applications to the Forest Service by June 14, 2012.

4. Application Requirements

    The following section outlines grant application requirements:
    a. The application can be no more than eight pages long, plus no 
more than two maps (eight inches by eleven inches in size), the grant 
forms specified in (b), and the draft community forest plan specified 
in (d).
    b. The following grant forms and supporting materials must be 
included in the application:
    (1) An Application for Federal Assistance (Standard Form 424);
    (2) Budget information (Standard Form SF 424c--Construction 
Programs); and
    (3) Assurances of compliance with all applicable Federal laws, 
regulations, and policies (Standard Form 424d--Construction Programs).
    c. Documentation verifying that the applicant is an eligible entity 
and that the land proposed acquisition is eligible lands (see Sec.  
230.2 of the final rule).
    d. Applications must include the following, regarding the property 
proposed for acquisition:
    (1) A description of the property, including acreage and county 
location;
    (2) A description of current land uses, including improvements;
    (3) A description of forest type and vegetative cover;
    (4) A map of sufficient scale to show the location of the property 
in relation to roads and other improvements as well as parks, refuges, 
or other protected lands in the vicinity;
    (5) A description of applicable zoning and other land use 
regulations affecting the property;
    (6) A description of relationship of the property within and its 
contributions to a landscape conservation initiative; and
    (7) A description of any threats of conversion to non-forest uses, 
including any encumbrances on the property that prevent conversion to 
nonforest uses.
    e. Information regarding the proposed establishment of a community 
forest, including:
    (1) A description of the benefiting community, including 
demographics, and the associated benefits provided by the proposed land 
acquisition;
    (2) A description of community involvement to-date in the planning 
of the community forest acquisition and of community involvement 
anticipated long-term management;
    (3) An identification of persons and organizations that support the 
project and their specific role in establishing and managing the 
community forest; and
    (4) A draft community forest plan. The eligible entity is 
encouraged to work with the State Forester or equivalent official of 
the Indian tribe for technical assistance when developing or updating 
the Community Forest Plan. In addition, the eligible entity is 
encouraged to work with technical specialists, such as professional 
foresters, recreation specialists, wildlife biologists, or outdoor 
education specialists, when developing the Community Forest Plan.
    f. Information regarding the proposed land acquisition, including:
    (1) A proposed project budget (section Sec.  230.6 of the final 
program rule);
    (2) The status of due diligence, including a signed option or 
purchase and sale agreement, title search, minerals determination, and 
appraisal;
    (3) Description and status of cost share (secure, pending, 
commitment letter, etc.). Section Sec.  230.6 of the final rule;
    (4) The status of negotiations with participating landowner(s) 
including purchase options, contracts, and other terms and conditions 
of sale;
    (5) The proposed timeline for completing the acquisition and 
establishing the community forest; and
    (6) Long term management costs and funding source(s).
    g. Applications must comply with the Uniform Federal Assistance 
Regulations (7 CFR Part 3015).
    h. Applications must include the forms required to process a 
Federal grant. Section Sec.  230.7 refers to the grant forms that must 
be included in the application and the specific administrative 
requirements that apply to the type of Federal grant used for this 
program.

5. Forest Service's Project Selection Criteria

    a. Using the criteria described below, to the extent practicable, 
the Forest Service will give priority to applications that maximize the 
delivery of community benefits, as defined in the final rule (see Sec.  
230.2 of the final rule).; and
    b. The Forest Service will evaluate all applications received by 
the State Foresters or equivalent officials of the

[[Page 8803]]

Indian tribe and award grants based on the following criteria:
    (1) Type and extent of community benefits provided, including to 
underserved communities. Community benefits are defined in the final 
program rule as:
    (i) Economic benefits such as timber and non-timber products;
    (ii) Environmental benefits, including clean air and water, 
stormwater management, and wildlife habitat;
    (iii) Benefits from forest-based experiential learning, including 
K-12 conservation education programs; vocational education programs in 
disciplines such as forestry and environmental biology; and 
environmental education through individual study or voluntary 
participation in programs offered by organizations such as 4-H, Boy or 
Girl Scouts, Master Gardeners, etc.;
    (iv) Benefits from serving as replicable models of effective forest 
stewardship for private landowners; and
    (v) Recreational benefits such as hiking, hunting and fishing 
secured through public access.
    (2) Extent and nature of community engagement in the establishment 
and long-term management of the community forest;
    (3) Amount of cost share leveraged;
    (4) Extent to which the community forest contributes to a landscape 
conservation initiative;
    (5) Extent of due diligence completed on the project, including 
cost share committed and status of appraisal;
    (6) Likelihood that, unprotected, the property would be converted 
to non-forest uses; and
    (7) Costs to the Federal Government.

6. Grant Requirements

    a. Once an application is selected, funding will be obligated to 
the grant recipient through a grant.
    b. Local and Indian Tribal Governments should refer to 2 CFR part 
225, Cost Principles for State, Local, and Indian Tribal Governments 
(OMB Circular A-87) and 7 CFR part 3016 (Uniform Administrative 
Requirements for Grants and Cooperative Agreements to State and Local 
Governments) for directions.
    c. Nonprofit organizations should refer to 2 CFR part 215 Uniform 
Administrative Requirements for Grants and Other Agreements with 
Institutions of Higher Education, Hospitals and Other Nonprofit 
Organizations (OMB Circular A-110) and 7 CFR Part 3019 Uniform 
Administrative Requirements for Grants and Cooperative Agreements with 
Institutions of Higher Education, Hospitals, and other Nonprofit 
Organizations for directions.
    d. Forest Service must approve any amendments to a proposal or 
request to reallocate funding within a grant proposal. If negotiations 
on a selected project fail, the applicant cannot substitute an 
alternative site.
    e. The grant recipient must comply with the requirements in section 
Sec.  230.8 in the final rule before funds will be released.
    f. After the project has closed, as a requirement of the grant, 
grant recipients will be required to provide the Forest Service with a 
Geographic Information System (GIS) shapefile: a digital, vector-based 
storage format for storing geometric location and associated attribute 
information, of CFP project tracts and cost share tracts, if 
applicable.
    g. Any funds not expended within the grant period must be de-
obligated and revert to the Forest Service.
    h. All media, press, signage, and other documents discussing the 
creation of the community forest must reference the partnership and 
financial assistance by the Forest Service through the CFP.
    i. Additional conditions of the grants awarded under this program 
are found in section Sec.  230.9 of the final rule.

    Dated: December 21, 2011.
Robin L. Thompson,
Associate Deputy Chief, State & Private Forestry.
[FR Doc. 2012-3528 Filed 2-14-12; 8:45 am]
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