NCRP CAL FIRE Forest Health Pilot Implementation

With funding from the CAL FIRE Forest Health Program, the NCRP has developed a project priority screening assessment and is providing solicitation materials and guidelines to support projects that seek to significantly increase fuels management, fire reintroduction, treatment of degraded areas, and conservation of forests: mitigating climate change, protecting communities from fire risk, and strengthening rural economies.

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The Forest Health Program addresses the risk to California’s forests from extreme disturbance events including catastrophic wildfires, drought, and pest mortality. These events are the result of climate change, forest overcrowding, past land management practices, and an increasing number of people living in the wildland and urban interface.

CAL FIRE’s Forest Health Program awards funding to landscape-scale land management projects that achieve the following objectives:

GRANT OVERVIEW

GRANT OVERVIEW

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GRANT OVERVIEW

In 2023, the NCRP was awarded a CAL FIRE Forest Health Grant as a pilot project to demonstrate an integrated approach to achieving the mutual objectives of the Regional Forest and Fire Capacity Program (RFFC) and CAL FIRE’s Forest Health Program. The pilot project will be implemented by NCRP in partnership with CAL FIRE and will adhere to the goals and requirements as defined in the California Climate Investments, Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, Forest Health Program, and Regional Grant Pilot Guidelines.

The NCRP developed a regional Forest Health screening assessment to prioritize forest health project areas, per CAL FIRE Forest Health categories. This regional assessment and its corresponding maps are intended to objectively filter and stratify the landscape through the lens of CAL FIRE Forest Health priorities in the North Coast Region, as well as provide background information for the development of projects by partners in the Region. The NCRP Landscape Priority Areas for Forest Health Projects assessment resulted in a series of maps of the high priority areas for forest health projects.  This assessment was shared in a NCRP Forest Health Screening Workshop and feedback was provided to support improvements.

NCRP CAL FIRE FOREST HEALTH PILOT SOLICITATION

The following informational pages provide an overview of the NCRP CAL FIRE Forest Health Pilot request for proposals with important links, selection process and guidelines, and proposal support options.

 

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PROJECT REVIEW GUIDELINES

Project application materials must be submitted using the NCRP PROJECT TRACKER site.

Applicants should review the NCRP PROJECT TRACKER REFERENCE & INSTRUCTIONS prior to beginning to develop a project application.

DUE DATE – TBD
Project Applications will be accepted until 5:00 pm, TBD. The project solicitation will be closed after this date/time and edits to project applications and new applications will no longer be accepted.

INQUIRIES AND PROJECT TRACKER SUPPORT:

  • Contact Rose Roberts at rroberts@northcoastresourcepartnership.org
  • Contact NCRP Director of Tribal Engagement, Sherri Norris sherri@cieaweb.org, 510-848-2043, and/or Tribal Technical Assistance Coordinator, Javier Silva, jsilva9806@gmail.com. Note that Tribal project sponsors can request proposal assistance from the NCRP Tribal Engagement Team.

COMPLETE PROPOSAL ELEMENTS:

  • NCRP Project Tracker Project Proposal
    Reference document
  • NCRP CAL FIRE Pilot Supplemental Application (Word document)
    – Detailed instructions for Supplemental Application
  • NCRP CAL FIRE Pilot Project Workbook Excel File: Work Plan, Treatment Activities, Environmental Compliance & Budget
  • Supporting Documents:
    a) Certification of Authority
    b) Organization Statement of Qualifications
    – briefly describes the organization’s key personnel and their qualifications and list/hyperlinks to examples of relevant work that support the proposal
    c) Technical & Reference Supporting Document
    – copies of the studies, plans and designs completed for the project (these should be bundled into one PDF document that includes a Table of Contents and is limited to approximately 50 pages)
    d) NCRP MOMU (if not already submitted)

KEY GRANT ELEMENTS AND SCHEDULE

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KEY GRANT ELEMENTS

ELIGIBLE APPLICANTS

Eligible Forest Health projects must be large, landscape-scale projects with multiple, integrated benefits. The minimum grant amount requested should be no less than $500,000. The maximum allowable amount is $1.5 million. The NCRP may choose to fund a portion of the proposed project based on funding availability and other considerations.

PROJECT READINESS

Eligible projects must complete grant-related activities no later than December 31, 2028. All projects selected for inclusion into the NCRP CAL FIRE Forest Health Pilot portfolio must have their environmental compliance completed within one year of project portfolio approval and must demonstrate progress toward completing the work within six months of award. The NCRP will begin to review all awarded projects within 12 months of the subgrant award and may reallocate awarded funds to a different sub-grantee within the project portfolio, in accordance with the NCRP Policies and Procedures Handbook reallocation protocol, if environmental compliance is not complete or reasonable progress toward completing the project work cannot be demonstrated.

ELIGIBLE PROJECT ACTIVITIES

Eligible projects must yield substantial benefits, have a well-defined scope of work, be feasible to implement within the grant term, and contribute to the goals of CAL FIRE’s Forest Health program and the NCRP Vision for North Coast Resilience Plan. All projects must include one or more activities supported by the Forest Health Program:

Forest Fuels Reduction
– Eligible activities must focus on treating understory trees and brush with the goals of reducing fire hazards, improving tree growth, stabilizing carbon in retained trees, and increasing forest resilience to catastrophic disturbances. Forest thinning activities can be manual or mechanical and must be designed to change stand structure to: 1) concentrate carbon storage in widely-spaced and larger trees that are more resilient to wildfire, drought, and pest outbreaks; and 2) reduce the likelihood of wildfire transitioning into the forest canopy. Commercial harvesting activities should focus on promoting carbon storage in remaining trees and must be compatible with achieving resilient forests with stable carbon storage that provide co-benefits such as fish and wildlife habitat, increased biodiversity, and wildlife adaptation to climate change. Pre- commercial and brush removal activities are also eligible.

Prescribed Fire
– Eligible activities must focus on the need to reintroduce fires to fire-adapted forest ecosystems. Applying fire to the landscape may serve multiple purposes including, reducing fuel loads, creating heterogenous and diverse vegetation, maintaining cultural practices of indigenous communities, and/or promoting healthy ecosystem processes such as water storage and pest control. Prescribed burns may be completed with private or public burn crews.

Cultural Fire
Distinguished from Prescribed Fire. Cultural Fire is the intentional application of fire to the land by an Indigenous person or cultural group (e.g., family unit, Tribe, clan/moiety, or society) to achieve cultural goals or objectives and based in Tribal or Traditional Indigenous law.

Pest Management
– Eligible activities must address pest control and related forest health improvement, while reducing pest-related mortality, improving tree growth, stabilizing carbon retained in trees, and increasing forest resilience. Activities may include forest thinning and/or brush removal. Forest thinning activities (manual or mechanical) should change stand structure to increase carbon storage in more widely spaced trees that are more resistant to wildfire, drought, and insect attacks. Harvesting activities should focus on removing dead, diseased, suppressed, or slow-growing trees for the purpose of promoting carbon storage in remaining trees and must be compatible with achieving resilient forests with stable carbon storage that provide co-benefits such as fish and wildlife habitat, increased biodiversity, and wildlife adaptation to climate change.

Reforestation
– Eligible activities should establish a diverse, native forest, which will result in stable carbon sequestration and storage, improved watershed and habitat functions, and forest resilience. Species selection must be appropriate for the site and may be used to address climate adaptation. Climate appropriate seed lots may be identified using the U.S. Forest Service’s Seedlot Selection Tool.

Reforestation of recently burned areas is also eligible for funding including planning, site preparation and planting; fire suppression repair costs are not eligible. The Forest Health program does not fund afforestation or the establishment of forests in historically non-forested areas.

Biomass Utilization
– Eligible activities must:
1) Utilize woody biomass for wood products such as post and pole, firewood, dimensional lumber, plywood, or other products which allows for continued carbon storage
2) Generate energy though combustion or gasification, which displaces carbon-intensive fossil fuel- based energy; or
3) Utilize woody biomass to help develop markets for beneficial uses of the material. Beneficial uses include, but are not limited to, dimensional lumber, animal bedding, biochar, artistic and cultural products, cross-laminated timber, mulch, oriented strandboard, pulp, post, shredding, and veneer products.

Note: Modification of vegetation adjacent to roads may be an eligible treatment in a Forest Health project, if the roads are connecting large forested landscapes and are critical to maintaining forest health via forest fuels reduction, prescribed fire, pest management, reforestation and/or biomass utilization. Roadside fuel reduction to improve public safety (for egress of evacuating residents and ingress of responding emergency personnel) as a major project component is not an eligible activity for Forest Health grants.

All revenues collected as a result of activities paid for, in full or in part, with Forest Health Program grant funds must be tracked and re-invested into the project to further grant objectives.

Detailed information about the eligible project activities is excerpted and modified from the California Climate Investments, Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, Forest Health Program Grant Guidelines, December 2023 and can be found in Appendix A.

PROJECT ADMINISTRATION AND ELIGIBLE COSTS

The County of Humboldt acts as the fiscal sponsor and Regional Manager of grant funds for the NCRP. The Regional Contract Management Team will provide QA/QC on all invoices and progress reports submitted by sub-grantees prior to compiling regular grant progress reports and invoices to submit to CAL FIRE. The County of Humboldt NCRP team will maintain auditable files and acts as the liaison between the project sponsors (sub-grantees, sub-contractors) and CAL FIRE to streamline communications.

Inclusion of indirect costs is acceptable and should generally not exceed 10% of the total direct grant costs, minus equipment costs. Applicants may request a higher indirect rate by providing additional justification as to why a higher rate is needed as well as including appropriate documentation substantiating the basis of the higher indirect rate (e.g., a copy of a federally approved Negotiated Indirect Cost Rate Agreement, etc.) In no instance may the request exceed 20%. Documentation related to the determination of the Grantee’s indirect cost rate must be retained by the Grantee for audit purposes. For applicants requesting the higher rate, you may include this rate within your application request and budget breakdown. our request for a higher indirect rate will be evaluated concurrently with your grant application. If your project is selected for award but the higher rate is not approved, you will be notified of the revised award amount and changes to your budget if needed. Approval of the higher indirect rate is solely at NCRP/CAL FIRE’s discretion. Detailed information about the eligible project costs and other project administration requirements has been excerpted from the CAL FIRE Forest Health Program, Regional Grant Pilot Guidelines and contract agreement template and found in Appendix B.

SCHEDULE FOR THE NCRP 2024 PROJECT SOLICITATION

This schedule is subject to change based on new information

  • February – March: NCRP Project Application materials, Project Review and Selection Process Guidelines refined.
  • Late March/early April: CAL FIRE Forest Health grant awards announced.
  • Late March/early April: NCRP CAL FIRE Forest Health Pilot Implementation Project Grant Solicitation announced via the NCRP Project Tracker webpage. NCRP staff and sub-contractors provide project application support and on-going project Technical Assistance is provided to eligible disadvantaged communities and Tribes.
  • April – May: Informational webinars held, recorded and posted to the NCRP Project Tracker webpage.
  • April – June: Proposal Support – regional experts and NCRP staff hold weekly office hours where project proponents are invited to bring preliminary proposals and questions for discussion by NCRP staff and technical assistance providers. One‐on‐one meetings will be coordinated to assist those interested in submitting applications. Types of support may include answering questions about the assessment findings and application process as well as help with the NCRP Project Tracker platform, project specific environmental compliance requirements, cost estimation, project scalability, project benefits, geospatial data packet for project area and general proposal review.
  • June: NCRP CAL FIRE Pilot Forest Health Implementation Project applications due.
  • June – July: TPRC project review period (TPRC project evaluation conference call meeting held prior).
  • July: TPRC Project Review and Preliminary Scoring meeting – project proponents and the public are welcome to attend and provide public comment, where noted on the published agenda.
  • August: TPRC Project Scoring and Draft Project Portfolio Selection meeting – project proponents and the public are welcome to attend and provide public comment, where noted on the published agenda.
  • August – September: Presentation with CAL FIRE; CAL FIRE review and input.
  • September – October: NCRP staff work with project sponsors to address CAL FIRE input and get CAL FIRE Forest Health approval.
  • October 18 – NCRP Quarterly Meeting (in-person, Del Norte County): LC considers/approves TPRC recommended suite of Priority North Coast Projects for NCRP CAL FIRE Pilot Forest Health Implementation Project Regional Grant.
  • October – November: Priority North Coast Project sponsors work with NCRP staff and technical leads to develop materials for the NCRP CAL FIRE Pilot Forest Health Regional Portfolio of Implementation Projects including CAL FIRE required documents; NCRP provides technical assistance for environmental compliance.
  • November 2024: NCRP CAL FIRE Forest Health Pilot Regional Portfolio of Implementation Projects (and required documentation) provided to CAL FIRE and CAL MAPPER.

PROPOSAL SUPPORT & WORKSHOPS

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PROPOSAL DEVELOPMENT SUPPORT

PROPOSAL DEVELOPMENT SUPPORT

GOAL: To support project proponents, develop application materials for the NCRP CAL FIRE Forest Health Pilot Solicitation in accordance with the source funding guidelines and eligibility requirements. This includes but is not limited to the following:

  • Project and sponsor eligibility
  • Identifying whether a project area is entirely or partially within a Disadvantaged Community (DAC), Severely Disadvantaged Community (SDAC), Economically Distressed Area or Tribal Community
  • Strategies for gaining political support and notifying affected agencies, including the County and/or Tribes within the proposed project impact area
  • Reviewing and developing project tasks, budget and schedule documentation
  • Support for the project environmental compliance and permit acquisition plan
  • Describing cost considerations, project budget and matching funds
  • Support for developing the NCRP CAL FIRE Pilot Project Workbook and Budget
  • Describing and quantifying project benefits
  • Spatial data technical support

 

WHO: The team of technical assistance providers is made up of regional experts that can provide peer-to-peer proposal development support based on project need. The time allotted to each entity receiving proposal support may vary but is estimated between 2-6 hours or more based on need and availability. It is recommended that project proponents attend one of the informational workshops and become familiar with the project application preparation and submission requirements.

HOW: Attend the weekly office hours at XXXXXXX for real-time question/answer sessions and to schedule peer-to-peer proposal development support meetings. Weekly office hours will also include Tribal only break-out sessions to meet with the Tribal Engagement support team.

WORKSHOPS

It is recommended that project proponents attend one of the informational webinars being held in May and June 2024 to become familiar with the project application preparation and submission requirements. Workshops will be held via zoom with opportunities for participants to ask questions, with zoom meetings recorded and posted here. Webinars will be announced via eblast and dates and times will also be posted to this page.
● NCRP CAL FIRE Forest Health Pilot Solicitation Process, Materials and Requirements (links coming)
● NCRP Landscape Priority Areas for Forest Health Projects Assessment
● NCRP Project Implementation Contract Administration