F23AS00100 Refuges Enhancement/Infrastructure

The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) is the premier government agency dedicated to the conservation, protection, and enhancement of fish, wildlife and plants, and their habitats.

We are the only agency in the federal government whose primary responsibility is the conservation and management

of these important natural resources for the American public.

FWS origins date back to 1871 when Congress established the U. S. Fish Commission to study the decrease in the nation’s food fishes and recommend ways to reverse that decline.

Today, we are a diverse and largely decentralized organization, employing about 8,000 dedicated professionals working out of facilities across the country, including a headquarters office in Falls Church, Virginia, and eight regional offices representing the 12 Unified Interior Regions.

The National Infrastructure Partnerships initiative of the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) encourages National Wildlife Refuge System field stations to partner with local, regional, and national nonprofit organizations, other land management groups, state and tribal partners, and others to accomplish projects that:
promote the stewardship of resources of the refuge through habitat maintenance, restoration, and improvement, and support the operation and maintenance of the refuge through constructing, operating, maintaining, or improving the facilities and services of the refuge.

The goals of the initiative are to enable local communities to play a more active role in increasing outdoor recreation opportunities on refuge lands and waters, to be more focused and deliberate in using partnerships to help FWS address infrastructure repair and improvement needs such as proactive maintenance and the maintenance backlog, and to enhance wildlife habitat.

Additionally, this initiative can help address multiple FWS priorities as a catalyst for:
Economic and Conservation Enhancement Career Training and Mentoring Opportunities for Youth and Adults Equity and Inclusion in Conservation and Recreation Climate and Wildlife Resilience Community Health Successful projects will be related to identified FWS priorities or infrastructure projects at national wildlife refuges that enhance the visitor experience, promote wildlife-dependent outdoor recreation, provide sustainable wildlife habitat, provide career training and mentoring opportunities, and engage the community in opportunities to participate in wildlife-dependent outdoor recreation on FWS lands and waters.

Fish and Wildlife Act – Community Partnership Enhancement Authority Overview Notwithstanding the Federal Grants and Cooperative Agreements Act, the Fish and Wildlife Act—Community partnership enhancement (16 U.S.C.

742f(d)) authorizes FWS to enter into cooperative agreements with non-Federal partner entities to implement projects or programs for a refuge or complex of geographically related refuges , including carrying out certain construction projects on refuge property.

For the purposes of this Act, construction projects include “constructing, operating, maintaining, or improving the facilities”.

However, there are several restrictions that apply to the special authority when used for construction, including restrictions on partner administrative and operational costs and property ownership.

This authority is only available to the National Wildlife Refuge System.

Improvements become the property of the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

Federal funds may not exceed non-Federal matching funds.

Per the Fish and Wildlife Act – Community Partnership Enhancement Authority, FWS cannot provide funding under this program for non-Federal entity operation or administration costs (i.e.

indirect costs):
“(ii) Use of Federal funds - Any Federal funds used to fund a project or program under a cooperative agreement may be used only for expenses directly related to the project or program and may not be used for operation or administration of any non-Federal entity.”
Agency: Department of the Interior

Office: Fish and Wildlife Service

Estimated Funding: $5,000,000

Who's Eligible

Relevant Nonprofit Program Categories

Obtain Full Opportunity Text:

Additional Information of Eligibility:
Be a state or local government entity, the governing body of any Indian tribe, a nonprofit organization, or an accredited institution of higher education.

Have financial policies and procedures that reflect generally accepted accounting principles.

Have risk management policies that reflect industry standards and are proactive and thorough in mitigating and managing risk.

Have a current Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with FWS (national, regional office, or field station) that clearly identifies both organization’s roles and responsibilities for implementing the type of project the Partner Organization is proposing (i.e.

an organization will not need a new MOU for every individual project if the current MOU includes the type of project being proposed).

For example, a national nonprofit organization with a general national MOU with FWS to conduct trail maintenance will not need a new MOU for every refuge where it performs trail maintenance.

A copy of the MOU must be included in the application.

Please contact your local U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service National Wildlife Refuge or Robert L.

Williams for more information on developing an MOU.

Contribute a minimum of 50% of the total costs of the project, either as cash or qualified third-party in-kind contributions which can include donations of items considered a reasonable expense of the project such as labor, materials, supplies, or equipment loans.

Other Organizations that have an established Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with FWS such as 501(c) 4 or 501(c) 5 nonprofit organizations that are labor unions, neighborhood associations, or other types of eligible organizations, including those that reach or represent potentially underserved communities. 

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