Missouri Bird Conservation Initiative Grant Program

FY2015 Call for Proposals

Proposals due September 30, 2013

Work Period July 1, 2014 – May 1, 2015

The Missouri Bird Conservation Initiative (MoBCI) serves as a conduit in providing financial support to private and public organizations or to individuals who have partnerships that carry out bird habitat conservation projects in Missouri.  Eligible activities include projects that protect, enhance or restore bird habitats on any lands in Missouri.  All projects should be habitat based and not strictly designed for monitoring; however, monitoring can be a component of the project (<10%); some component of effectiveness monitoring is recommended.  MoBCI grant funds can not assist applicants with administrative overhead costs and can not be used to purchase equipment.  Applicants can include their administrative overhead as match provided that it is directly related to the bird habitat improvement project or monitoring of that project being proposed through this current Call for Proposals.  Key:  MoBCI dollars are specifically directed to bird habitat improvement goals that meet the needs of birds who utilize native habitats in Missouri and must address the bird conservation initiatives below.

MoBCI grant projects must be relevant to the goals and objectives of one or more of the major national and international bird conservation initiatives, including the North American Waterfowl Management Plan, Partners in Flight Bird Conservation Plans applicable to Missouri, North American Waterbird Conservation Plan, U.S. Shorebird Conservation Plan, and the Northern Bobwhite Conservation Initiative.  If you do not have ready access to these plans you can find them at the following web addresses:

http://www.fws.gov/birdhabitat/NAWMP/index.shtm

http://www.lmvjv.org/

http://www.chjv.org/CHJV_Conservation_Planning.html

http://www.uppermissgreatlakesjv.org/Plans.htmhttp://www.partnersinflight.org

http://www.waterbirdconservation.org/nawcp.html

http://shorebirdplan.fws.gov

http://bringbackbobwhites.org/strategy/nbci-2-0

In addition, priority will be given to projects that address priority habitats which benefit priority bird species identified in any of the Conservation Opportunity Areas (COA’s) or approved species/habitat restoration plans.  For specific information on priority Missouri habitats see the MoBCI web site at www.mobci.org or visit the Missouri Department of Conservation’s, Comprehensive Wildlife Strategy, “Conservation Opportunity Area” web site at http://mdc.mo.gov/landwater-care/priority-focus-areas.  A map of Missouri’s Important Bird Areas can be found at http://mo.audubon.org/sites/default/files/documents/mo-iba-map.pdf

Projects should benefit an array of species, such as grassland birds, forest birds, wetland birds or glade birds. An acceptable project may target one or more high priority bird species, but should include benefits to other species, involve habitat and ecosystem level planning and management, and engage partners with shared goals and objectives.

Grant awards

The Missouri Department of Conservation (Grantor) has made $95,000 available for MoBCI grants during this grant cycle. Individual grant awards are available up to a maximum of $20,000 annually.  MoBCI grants require a one-to-one match of [local, state, or federal] funds that DO NOT originate from the Missouri Department of Conservation.  The match may include acquired realty, partner financial contributions, monitoring and evaluation costs, stewardship costs, volunteer time, etc.  Projects which include a significant amount of overhead (i.e., indirect administrative expenses) are strongly discouraged.

Grantees will be required to submit a semi-annual progress report that includes both a financial and narrative summary and comply with the Grantor’s (Missouri Department of Conservation) policy regarding grants.

 Application and Review Process

Grant applications must follow the format listed in the “General Requirements” section below and be received no later than 5:00 p.m. September 30, 2013, at the following address:  MoBCI Grant Subcommittee, in care of Kelly Srigley Werner, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service-Missouri Private Lands Office, 101 Park DeVille Drive, Suite B, Columbia, Missouri  65203.  Mailed applications should contain one original copy.  No faxed applications will be accepted.   Electronic applications will only be accepted in MS Word format to the following address: kelly_srigleywerner@fws.gov; please put “MOBCI GRANT PROPOSAL” in the subject line.

The MoBCI Grant Subcommittee will review, score (based on the ranking criteria below), and provide funding recommendations to the MoBCI Steering Committee.  The MoBCI Steering Committee will make recommendations for final approval to the Missouri Department of Conservation (MoBCI grant administrator).

Ranking Criteria:

Proposals will be ranked by the MoBCI Grant Subcommittee based on the following:

  •  Priority bird species addressed (15 points)
  •  Priority habitats conserved (i.e., Important Bird Areas, Conservation Opportunity Areas) (15 points)
  •  Bird initiative plan goals and objectives addressed (15 points)
  •  Partnerships developed (20 points)
  •  Use of project as a model for other projects (10 points)
  •  Capacity of the organization(s)/individual to accomplish the project (10 points)
  •  Budget (15 points)
  •  Bonus for first-time MoBCI proposal from organization – (5 points).

General Requirements:  (maximum of five pages for entire proposal)

  • Grant Title
  • Purpose of Grant (Clearly define goals, objectives, or activities to be achieved with applicable time lines.)
  • Project Location (include map)
  • Is this the first time you have submitted a MoBCI Grant Proposal?  Yes or No
  • Project Description including narrative and any pertinent tabular information
  • Project Calendar (work period is July 1, 2013 through May 1, 2014)
  • Measurable Outcomes (Identify specific and measurable outcomes that will be used for tracking progress.)
  • Measurable Deliverables (Describe products or services that will be provided by the grantee.  Note: Mandatory deliverables will include 3-5 good quality digital photographs of people conducting project actions and 1-2 photos clearly illustrating habitat improvements.)
  • Budget Table including Grant Request Amount (see example below) Reporting and monitoring plan (Describe process for monitoring and reporting progress and identify a point-of-contact with e-mail address.)
  • Lead organization, point-of-contact, and their capacities (Provide names, titles, addresses, electronic addresses and phone numbers of parties who can answer questions relating to the agreement; if applicable, include a list of NGO Board members and officers.)
  • List of partners involved in the project and point-of-contact for those other partners (same as above for Lead Organization)
  • Fiscal Responsibility/Management (Describe fiscal management and identify grantee fiscal agent.)
  • Habitat types, birds, and other wildlife benefited

Deadlines:

All grant proposals must be received in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Office by 5:00 p.m. September 30, 2013.  The MoBCI Grants Subcommittee will notify applicants of their status within three months of submission date and indicate reasons for rejection and/or suggestions for making the proposal more competitive.

Please go to the MoBCI website www.mobci.org for examples of funded proposals to serve as a guide in preparation of FY2014 proposals.

For Assistance Contact:

Kelly Srigley Werner                                                                                                                          U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service                                                                                                           101 Park DeVille Dr., Suite B                                                                                                      Columbia, Missouri 65203                                                                                                              Phone:  573-234-2132 Ext. 112                                                                                                        E-mail: Kelly_srigleywerner@fws.gov

OR

Norman Murray                                                                                                                        Missouri Dept. of Conservation

P.O. Box 180                                                                                                                                     Jefferson City, Missouri  65102                                                                                                   Phone: 573-522-4115 ext. 3353                                                                                                      E-mail: Norman.Murray@mdc.mo.gov

 SAMPLE MOBCI GRANT PROPOSAL

 Missouri Bird Conservation Initiative Grant Program

FY2014 Proposal

The Nature Conservancy Grand River Grasslands

Project Title

Grassland Management to Improve Habitat and Survivability for Greater Prairie Chickens and other Declining Grassland Bird Species at Dunn Ranch

Background

The Nature Conservancy (TNC), through partnerships with private landowners and other conservation organizations, is working to restore a tallgrass prairie landscape and provide critical corridors for grassland species within the 70,000 acre Grand River Grasslands (GRG) of northwest Missouri and southwest Iowa.  Early land surveys indicate that as much as 95% of this landscape existed as native prairie.  Today, approximately 84% consists of degraded grassland habitat, mostly non-native cool-season grasses such as brome and fescue.  Although overall grassland diversity has declined, approximately half of the grasslands contain significant prairie vegetation that is considered restorable.  In addition, the presence of several indicator grassland species, including a small population of greater prairie chickens, identifies this as one of the best places in the Central Tallgrass Prairie Ecoregion to restore a functioning tallgrass prairie ecosystem. To this end, TNC has recently partnered with other organizations to restore more than 2,400 acres of tallgrass prairie at Dunn Ranch and Pawnee Prairie.

According to Audubon Missouri, the GRG Important Bird Area once contained the largest greater prairie chicken population in Missouri (Palmer and Palmer 2001).  However, just as prairie chickens were poised to take advantage of hundreds of acres of newly established nesting habitat as a result of TNC’s prairie restoration efforts, greater prairie chicken numbers in the GRG plummeted due to two consecutive years of the wettest weather in recorded history for HarrisonCounty.  Prairie chicken numbers are now at a precarious low.  Concern for the continued survival of the greater prairie chicken in the GRG and encouraged by MDC’s successful reintroduction of prairie chickens at TNC’s Wah’Kon-Tah Prairie in SW Missouri and by positive results of the evaluation of more than 60,000 acres of the GRG as potential prairie chicken nesting and brood habitat, the IDNR negotiated an agreement with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission authorizing them to trap and translocate up to 100 prairie chickens per year for four years (2012-2015) from Nebraska to the GRG to bolster the existing population.  Half of these birds will be released in Iowa at the Kellerton Bird Conservation Area.  The other half will be released at Dunn Ranch in Missouri.

In order to increase the success of these translocations, Dunn Ranch staff recently met with members of MDC’s Prairie Chicken Recovery Team (PCRT) who made recommendations to improve prairie chicken management at Dunn Ranch through grazing and high-mowing.  The PCRT also made a commitment to provide radio collars and tracking equipment for all prairie chicken hens released to allow monitoring of the movements of the prairie chickens to determine nesting success and habitat use.

In 2011 bison were reintroduced to Dunn Ranch to improve the structural and biological diversity of the tallgrass prairie at Dunn Ranch.  More than eight miles of fence were or will be constructed to contain the bison.  The fence, 6 ½ feet high with 8 strands of barbed wire, was built using more than 2,000 pieces of steel pipe as fence posts for strength and to withstand fire.  We recently discovered that the open ends of the pipe fence posts can be potential death-traps to birds looking for a place to nest or roost (http://kern.audubon.org/death_pipes.htm).  In addition, MDC’s PCRT pointed out that high barbed wire fences can be a mortality hazard to flushing prairie chickens.

Purpose:  The purpose of this grant is to provide funding to implement the suggestions made by MDC’s PCRT to improve the habitat for and reduce the mortality of greater prairie chickens and other grassland dependent bird species.

Objectives:  1) Provide manpower to assist the IDNR trap and translocate greater prairie chickens from Nebraska to the GRG; 2) restore and properly manage the tallgrass prairie at Dunn Ranch to improve the structural diversity of nesting and brood-rearing habitat for Greater Prairie Chickens and other rare and declining grassland dependent bird species; 3) take preventative measures to reduce the mortality of prairie chickens and other bird species; 4) monitor the movements of prairie chicken hens to determine nest success and habitat use.

Missouri Project Goals:

  • By November 2013, high-mow approximately 1,400 acres of tallgrass prairie to 14” in height to provide suitable nesting cover for greater prairie chickens.
  • By June 2014, provide manpower to assist IDNR to trap and relocate up to 100 greater prairie chickens from Nebraska to the GRG.
  • By June 2014, mark up to 2 miles of barbed wire fence to increase visibility to greater prairie chickens.
  • By September 2013, plug the openings of approximately 2,000 pipe fence posts.
  • By June 2014, moderately graze up to approximately 1,200 acres of tallgrass prairie to increase structural diversity of tallgrass prairie at Dunn Ranch.
  • By June 2014, monitor the movement of approximately 17 prairie chicken hens to determine nest success and habitat use.
  • By March 2014, reseed approximately 188 acres of critical prairie habitat at Dunn Ranch

Iowa Project Goals:

  • By June 2015, establish a self-sustaining population of greater prairie chickens in Ringgold County, Iowa and Harrison County, Missouri.

 Project Location:

The project area is the 70,000 acre GRG located in northern Harrison County, Missouri and southern Ringgold County, Iowa.  Dunn Ranch and Pawnee Prairie are located southeast of Hatfield, Missouri in Township 66N of Harrison County, Missouri and are owned and managed by TNC for the purpose of restoring and protecting tallgrass prairie and other natural communities native to northwest Missouri.  The GRG includes MDC’s Comprehensive Wildlife Strategy GRG Conservation Opportunity Area (COA), Audubon’s Pawnee Prairie/Grand River Grassland Important Bird Area, MDC’s Greater Prairie-Chicken Recovery Initiative Focus Area, Missouri Grasslands Coalition Focus Area, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Northern Loess/Glacial Till Prairie Focus Area, and TNC’s GRG Focus Area.

Is this the first time you have submitted a MoBCI Grant Proposal?  No

Project Description:

Translocations of prairie chickens from Nebraska began in the spring of 2012 and will continue for three more years.  TNC will provide 4 personnel to assist with the trapping and translocation efforts in the spring of 2013 and 2014. Up to 50 prairie chickens each year will be released at Dunn Ranch.  All prairie chicken hens released each year at Dunn Ranch will be fitted with radio collars provided by MDC.  Movement of the birds will be monitored to determine nesting success and habitat use.  Location of each collared bird will be determined three times per week from April through September and once per week from October through March using equipment provided by MDC.

Approximately 2 miles of barbed wire fence will be marked using aluminum privacy fence strips 78” long to improve visibility of the fence for prairie chickens as recommended by MDC’s PCRT.  Two strips will be hung horizontally from the top and third from the top wire between each fence post or 12’ section of fence.  The fence along ridge tops and close to nesting prairie chickens, as determined by radio telemetry, will be marked.

All open ends of pipe used in the bison fence will be plugged using polyurethane expandable foam to eliminate potential entrapment by birds.

Proper management of grasslands and prairies following restoration is absolutely necessary to ensure their long-term contribution to the conservation of rare and declining grassland birds.  MDC’s Greater Prairie Chicken Recovery Plan (GPCRP) states that grazing can be used to improve nesting cover, reduce litter, and create brood habitat.  In the GRG, conservation-minded grazing systems, such as patch burn grazing, show the best promise for managing grasslands to provide the structural diversity needed to benefit a wide range of grassland birds.  Researchers from IowaStateUniversity, in cooperation with MDC and IDNR, are currently working throughout the GRG to determine the benefits of patch burn grazing to grassland birds, wildlife, and insects.  While cattle will be the main grazer on most private lands, TNC has chosen to use a more ecologically sensitive grazer to manage its prairies by introducing 36 head of bison in October 2011.  An additional 20 head of bison will be added in October 2013 and allowed to graze on 1250 acres.  Bison have different grazing behavior than cattle and can provide a number of ecological processes that can improve the structural and biological diversity of the tallgrass prairie for the benefit of greater prairie chickens and other rare and declining grassland dependent bird species.

While bison and fire will eventually be the main tools by which the tallgrass prairie at Dunn Ranch will be managed for grassland birds, it will be 6 to 8 years before bison numbers have increased to the extent to impact the 2,500 acres they will graze.  In the meantime, MDC’s PCRT recommends that we annually high-mow portions of the prairie not impacted by grazing to create suitable nesting cover for priairie chickens.  According to MDC’s GPCRP, high-mowing in late summer or fall reduces vegetation to a height that is tall enough to provide suitable nesting cover, but not too tall to discourage prairie chicken use. This practice also creates evenly spaced wheel tracks that may improve hen access to nests and aid brood movement.  Research indicates that hens prefer to nest in residual vegetation that is between 12”-15” tall.  The GPCRP suggests that suitable nesting habitat should comprise 67% to 75% of the available grassland and the PCRT recommended that at least 50% of intended nesting cover at Dunn Ranch should be high mowed between August and September to a height of 14”.  Therefore, TNC will high-mow approximately 1,400 acres between August and September 2013 to provide potential nesting cover.  In addition, approximately 188 acres at Dunn Ranch will be reseeded with a diverse mix of native grasses and forbs in February 2014.

Measurable Outcomes

Measurable outcomes will include approximately 188 acres of prairie planted, 1,400 acres of tallgrass prairie high-mowed, approximately 1,200 acres of tallgrass prairie moderatley grazed, between 34-50 greater prairie chickens released at Dunn Ranch, approximately 2000 open pipes plugged, and approximately 2 miles of fence marked to improve visibility.

Measurable Deliverables

Measurable deliverables will include a semi-annual progress report and a final project report including pictures.

Grant Request Amount

Missouri Bird Conservation Initiative Grant Program Request:   $20,000

  1. High-mow approximately 1,400 acres of tallgrass prairie:
    ◾Tractor Rental-$10,500.
    ◾Labor-$4,200.
  2. Mark 2 miles of fence:
    ◾Aluminum strips-$1,600.
    ◾Hangers-$900.
  3. Plug 2000 open pipes:
    ◾Expandable foam-$800.
  4. Monitor prairie chicken movements:
    ◾Labor-$2,000.

The Nature Conservancy Match:                $22,500

  • Salary and benefits to assist IDNR trap, translocate, and monitor greater prairie chickens-$21,590.
  • Meals and lodging (4 days/3 nights)-$910

Summary of total project funds pledged to date:

  • The Nature Conservancy of Missouri (TNC–MO): $47,794.
  • Missouri Department of Conservation, Wildlife Diversity Funds (MDC–WDF): $17,417.
  • BlankPark Zoo, Des Moines, IA: $62,565.
  • IDNR: $47,267.
  • Iowa State University: $90,896.

Reporting and Monitoring Plan

TNC will submit a written progress report to MDC on or before December 31, 2013 and will provide a final report within 30 days of completion of this project.  Monitoring of bird populations by TNC will be ongoing to assess project impacts and will include the continuation of the breeding bird survey and prairie chicken survey.  For 2013 through 2015, in addition to spring lek surveys and summer brood surveys, approximately 50% of translocated birds at Dunn Ranch will be fitted with radios to monitor movement, survival, and habitat usage.  Point of Contact for Reporting and Monitoring is Randy Arndt, GRG Site Manager, 16970 W. 150th Street, Hatfield, MO64458; (660) 867-3866; rarndt@tnc.org

Lead Organization

Lead organization for this project will be The Nature Conservancy.

Randy Arndt, GRG Site Manager, 16970 W.   150th St., Hatfield, MO  64458; (660) 867-3866; rarndt@tnc.org

Board Members and Officers

  • Nancy Ylvisaker, Chair
  • Sanford Scott, Past Chair
  • Ruth Grant, M.D., Vice Chair
  • Jim Miller, Vice Chair
  • Ford Nelson, Jr., Treasurer
  • Dianna Adorjan
  • Jan Armstrong
  • Bob Berkebile
  • Kent Chancellor
  • James Fossard
  • Wayne Goode
  • Whitney Kerr
  • Bette Loiselle, Ph.D.
  • Steve McMillan
  • John McPheeters
  • Joe Monello
  • Margo Parker
  • Jon Smith
  • Tom Smith
  • Tom Stillman
  • Alan Templeton, Ph.D.
  • Carol-Ann Uetake-Shapiro
  • Stan Wallach

List of Partners

Missouri Department of Conservation through its Wildlife Diversity Funds: Kelly Sullens, Administrative Staff Assistant, P.O Box 180, Jefferson City, MO65102 (573) 751-4115×3153

Iowa Department of Natural Resources:                                                                      Stephanie Shepherd, Wildlife Diversity Program, 1436   255th Street, Boone, IA50036 (515) 432-2823×102

Blank Park Zoo:                                                                                                                         Kevin Drees, Dir. Animal Care & Conservation, 7401 SW 9th Street, Des Moines, IA 50315 (515) 974-2574

The Nature Conservancy in Iowa:                                                                                    Jennifer Filipiak, Dir. Conservation Science, 303   Locust Street, Suite 402, Des Moines, IA50309 (515) 244-5044

Iowa State University:                                                                                                           Jennifer Vogel, Post-doctoral Research Associate, Ecology, Evolution, and Organismal Biology, IowaStateUniversity, 253 Bessey Hall, Ames, Iowa50011

Fiscal Responsibility/ManagementFiscal responsibility for the project will be through The Nature Conservancy’s Grants Service Network.

Jeffrey Streier, Grants Administrator, The Nature Conservancy, 1101 West River Parkway, Suite 200, Minneapolis, MN55415, 612-331-0782

Habitat Types, Birds, and Other Wildlife Benefited

Dunn Ranch and the Pawnee Prairie are unique to the surrounding landscape of the Grand River Hills in that much of the historic tallgrass prairie habitat remains or has been restored through the efforts of TNC and MDC.  These lands currently support populations of Greater Prairie Chickens, Henslow’s Sparrows, Bobolinks, Upland Sandpipers, Sedge Wrens, and Grasshopper Sparrows.

This project will restore approximately 188 acres of upland tallgrass prairie habitat in the GRG, building upon existing native tallgrass prairie habitat on adjacent portions of Dunn Ranch and nearby Pawnee Prairie.  These restorations, along with more than 3,000 acres of properly managed grasslands, will help provide necessary nesting and brood habitat for the expansion of Greater Prairie Chicken populations in the GRG. and also provide the critical minimum size requirements for many grassland birds.  Larger tracts of land (e.g., Dunn Ranch) provide large habitat patches to accommodate area sensitive grassland bird species, like Greater Prairie Chicken and Upland Sandpiper (Walk and Warner 1999, Winter and Faaborg 1999).

This project will also provide improved management of grasslands at Dunn Ranch by implementing a patch burn grazing system utilizing bison.  Moderate grazing can improve habitat structure for Greater Prairie-Chickens and can be part of a beneficial management regime (Drobney and Sparrowe 1977; Christisen 1985, Horak 1985).  In combination with prescribed fire, proper grazing can provide structural habitat diversity for a wide range of grassland dependant birds and wildlife.

The Partners in Flight (PIF) Bird Conservation Plan for The Dissected Till Plains, North American Bird Conservation Initiative (NABCI), Northern Bobwhite Conservation Initiative (NBCI), and Missouri’s Greater Prairie-Chicken Recovery Initiative (GPCRI) have identified this as an area where opportunities for implementing grassland bird conservation is a high priority.  These conservation initiatives, in addition to the FWS Fish and Wildlife Resource Conservation Priorities (FWRCP), have identified nine priority grassland bird species which will benefit from prairie restoration in Missouri’s Central Dissected Till Plains including the GRG:

Species

Status

Initiative/Plan

Greater Prairie Chicken (Tympanuchus cupido) State Endangered GPCRI, NABCI, PIF
Henslow’s Sparrow (Ammodramus   henslowii) Rare/Declining GPCRI, NABCI, PIF, FWRCP
Grasshopper Sparrow (Ammodramus   savannarum) Rare/Declining GPCRI, PIF, FWRCP
Field Sparrow (Spizella   pusilla) Rare/Declining PIF, FWRCP
Dickcissel (Spiza   Americana) Rare/Declining PIF, FWRCP
Bobolink (Dolichonyx   oryzivorus) Rare/Declining PIF, FWRCP
Upland Sandpiper (Bartramia   longicauda) Rare/Declining GPCRI, FWRCP
Northern Bobwhite (Colinus   virginianus) Rare/Declining NBCI, PIF
Eastern Meadowlark (Sturnella   magna) Rare/Declining FWRCP

Management for Prairie Chickens in Wisconsin and Illinois has been shown to be successful in providing habitat for Short-eared Owls and Northern Harriers as well (Hamerstrom 1986, Herkert 1999), two species specifically noted as priority species for the Dissected Till Plains by Partners in Flight.  In addition, according to MDC’s Greater Prairie Chicken Recovery Initiative document, other species that will benefit from management for Prairie Chickens include, but is not limited to, Eastern and Western Prairie Fringed Orchid, Carex bicknellii, Carex missouriensis, Mead’s Milkweed, American Burying Beetle, Prairie Mole Cricket, Regal Fritillay, Grassland Crayfish, Northern Crawfish Frog, Topeka Shiner, and Sedge Wren among others.

Public Benefits

Restoration of the prairie at Dunn Ranch and Pawnee Prairie will not only improve the tallgrass prairie frequently visited by birding enthusiasts each year, but will also serve as a demonstration for restoring diversity, structure, and composition of native prairies to private landowners and other conservation organizations in the GRG.  Additionally, lessons learned from this restoration will provide globally beneficial restoration models to TNC’s conservation partners actively involved in restoration of temperate grasslands.  Increased numbers of Greater Prairie Chickens and bison grazing at Dunn Ranch will draw many tourists to the site which will bring money into the local rural economy.

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