Highlands Conservation Program

To conserve priority lands and natural resources and recognize the importance of the water, forest, agricultural, wildlife, recreational, and cultural resources, and the national significance of the Highlands region of the United States.

Preserve and protect high-priority conservation land in
the Highland regions.
Examples of Funded Projects

Fiscal Year 2010: FY10: Northern Highlands, NJ-1,400 acres to be conserved; Greater Sterling Forest, NY- 389 acres to be conserved; Texter Mountain, PA- acres to be conserved TBD; Mad River Headwaters, CT- acres to be conserved- TBD.

Fiscal Year 2011: Program will continue to fund projects to protect lands within the Highlands region.

Fiscal Year 2012: Program will continue to fund projects to protect lands within the Highlands region.


Agency - Department of the Interior

The Department of the Interior protects and provides access to the Nation's natural and cultural heritage, including responsibilities to Indian tribes and island communities. Departmental goals include resource protection and usage, overseeing recreational opportunities, serving communities and excellence in management.



Program Accomplishments

Fiscal Year 2010: Through FY 10 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has dispersed over $3.7 million in HCA funding to the 4 States, which led to 1,638 acres being protected in fee and 81 acres protected through conservation easements. With those funds, the USFWS has also leveraged over $14.9 million in state dollars for land protection in the Highlands region. Fiscal Year 2011: In FY 11 the USFWS anticipates continuing work to complete land acquisition projects with State partners. Fiscal Year 2012: In FY 12 the USFWS anticipates continuing work to complete land acquisition projects with State partners.

Uses and Use Restrictions

A state or state agency with authority to own and manage land located within the Highlands region may use a land conservation partnership project to acquire conservation-valued land, either through fee acquisition or conservation easement, from a willing seller to permanently protect, conserve, or preserve land.

Project lands of conservation value are identified by the U. S. Forest Service, Department of Agriculture, with input from pertinent units of local government and the public.

The list of lands of conservation value is provided to the governors of the states within the Highlands region.

The list of projects to be funded is submitted to the Secretary of the Interior, who, along with the Secretary of Agriculture, submits the eligible project list to Congress.

The Federal grant share of the land conservation partnership project will not exceed 50 percent of the total cost of partnership to acquire conservation-valued land.

For further information, please contact the regional office.

Eligibility Requirements

Applicant Eligibility

Any state or state agency with authority to own and manage land located within the Highlands region for conservation purposes may apply by identifying the source of non-Federal funds, describing the management objectives for the project land, identifying the purpose of the use of the land, and providing that the land will not be converted, used or disposed of for a purpose inconsistent with land conservation.

Beneficiary Eligibility

Beneficiaries are states or state agencies with authority to own and manage land within the Highlands region for conservation purposes, including the Palisades Interstate Park Commission.

Credentials/Documentation

Must be a state or or state agency with the authority to own and manage land within the Highlands region for conservation purposes. OMB Circular No. A-87 applies to this program.

Aplication and Award Process

Preapplication Coordination

The U.S.

Forest Service, Department of Agriculture, is responsible for conducting the resource assessment and preparing the Highlands project lands of conservation value update for the states involved.

The U.S.

Forest Service will identify in the update the lands that have high conservation value.

Environmental impact information is not required for this program.

This program is excluded from coverage under E.O.

12372.

Application Procedures

OMB Circular No. A-102 applies to this program. This program is excluded from coverage under OMB Circular No. A-110. It is the responsibility of the Highland states to submit projects to the Department of the Interior for funding. The Highland states may do this individually or they may jointly submit land conservation partnership projects.

Award Procedures

The U.S. Forest Service is responsible for doing the resource assessment and preparing the priority land update for the states involved. The U.S. Forest Service will identify in the update the lands that have high conservation value. Only lands available from willing sellers will be considered in the program. The Department of the Interior (DOI) has the sole responsibility for project grants. The states will apply directly to DOI for project funding. The DOI will award grants to the States or their entities for the acquisition of land, or interests in land, for conservation purposes in the Highlands.

Deadlines

Not Applicable.

Authorization

H.R. 1964, 2004; 16 U.S.C. 3901.

Range of Approval/Disapproval Time

Not Applicable.

Appeals

Not Applicable.

Renewals

Not Applicable.

Assistance Considerations

Formula and Matching Requirements

Statutory formulas are not applicable to this program.
Matching Requirements: The Federal share of the project cost shall not exceed 50 percent of the total project cost.
MOE requirements are not applicable to this program.

Length and Time Phasing of Assistance

Length and Time Phasing of Assistance:
Varies. See the following for information on how assistance is awarded/released: Funds are disbursed to recipients as requested and in accordance with the payment methods prescribed in 43 CFR Part 12, or as otherwise prescribed in program-specific legislation.

Post Assistance Requirements

Reports

Program reports are not applicable.

Cash reports are not applicable.

Interim performance reports are required for each grant award annually within 30 days after the anniversary date.

A final performance report is due within 90 days after the award end date.

SF-425, Federal Financial Reports are required for each grant award annually within 30 days after the anniversary date.

A final SF-425, Federal Financial Report is due within 90 days after the award end date.

Recipients are responsible for monitoring and reporting performance each award and sub-award under this program in accordance with 43 CFR Part 12 and 2 CFR Part 170.

Audits

In accordance with the provisions of OMB Circular No. A-133 (Revised, June 27, 2003), "Audits of States, Local Governments, and Non-Profit Organizations," nonfederal entities that expend financial assistance of $500,000 or more in Federal awards will have a single or a program-specific audit conducted for that year. Nonfederal entities that expend less than $500,000 a year in Federal awards are exempt from Federal audit requirements for that year, except as noted in Circular No. A-133.

Records

Cost records must be maintained separately for each grant award. Records, accounts, and supporting documents must be retained for three years after submission of the final reports.

Financial Information

Account Identification

14-5020-0-1-806.

Obigations

(Project Grants (Discretionary)) FY 10 $646,666; FY 11 $8,073,332; FY 12 $4,840,000

Range and Average of Financial Assistance

Range : $646,600 to $1,940,000; Average $970,000.

Regulations, Guidelines, and Literature

Per http://www.doi.gov/parnlTermsandConditions.htrnl, acceptance of a Federal
Financial award from the Department of the Interior carries with it the responsibility to be aware of and comply with the terms and conditions of the award. Acceptance is defined as starting work, drawing down funds, or accepting the award via electronic means. Awards are based on the application submitted to, and as approved by the Department of the Interior and are subject to the terms and conditions incorporated in to the Award either directly or by reference to the following: Program legislation/regulation, assurances, special conditions, the Code of Federal Regulations, and other regulatory requirements, as applicable.

Information Contacts

Regional or Local Office

None.

Headquarters Office

John Organ US Fish and Wildlife Service, Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration, 300 Westgate Center Drive, , Hadley, Massachusetts 01035 Email: John_Organ@fws.gov Phone: (413)253-8200 Fax: (413)253-8300

Criteria for Selecting Proposals

The U.S. Forest Service is responsible for completing the resource assessment and preparing the priority lands update for the states involved. The U.S. Forest Service will identify in the update the lands that have high conservation value. The Highland states meet annually and apply directly to DOI for funding from the project list of lands provided by U.S. Forest Service. Only lands with high conservation value that can be obtained by fee acquisition or conservation easement from willing sellers will be considered.



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