DUE DATE: June 19, 2014
Acres for America is National Fish and Wildlife Foundation's premiere land conservation program, and was established to provide urgently needed funding for projects that conserve large, landscape-level areas that are important habitat for fish, wildlife, and plants through land acquisitions and perpetual conservation easements.
In 2005, Acres for America was launched as a partnership between Walmart Stores (www.walmart.com) and NFWF. As a founding partner, Walmart's goal was to offset the footprint of its domestic facilities on at least an acre by acre basis – a number then estimated at 138,000 acres—through permanent conservation of important wildlife habitats. Since the program’s inception, more than 854,000 acres of open spaces that are vital for wildlife and that provide access for people to enjoy the outdoors have been conserved.
Prior to submitting a pre-proposal, applicants are strongly encouraged to contact the appropriate Partnership Office Director for the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. The purpose is to give the applicant an opportunity to share project concepts and ideas prior to fully preparing and submitting a pre-proposal.
Approximately $3.0 million is available in 2014. Based on prior year decisions, we anticipate that between three (3) and six (6) projects will be awarded funds.
To be considered for funding through the Acres for America Program, acquisitions of conservation easements should meet the following criteria:
Projects should protect or contribute to the protection of at least 5,000 acres and meet the other criteria below.
Endorsement by appropriate federal, state, and local government agencies that the acquisition is of high conservation value is a primary consideration. Preference will be given to acquisitions that are part of published conservation plans (North American Waterfowl Management Plan, Partners in Flight, State Wildlife Action Plans, or Endangered Species Act Recovery Plans). Natural Heritage rankings for key species present on the site are an important consideration when available. Letters of support from the agencies and organizations listed above should be available for review.
Endorsement by non-profit conservation organizations that the acquisition is of high conservation value using same criteria as above is also a primary consideration.
Acquisitions that contribute to "landscape level" conservation efforts that help reduce fragmentation are preferred over isolated acquisitions. Maps should be available to illustrate habitat linkages.
Important fish, wildlife, and/or plant resources, such as endangered species or areas of significant biological diversity, as identified by credible conservation agencies or organizations, should be conserved through the acquisition. Quantification of resources is important (e.g. 10% of the state's bald eagles nest at the site vs. bald eagles nest at the site.)
All acquisition documents, including appraisals, title reports, environmental hazard assessments, surveys, and where appropriate, a local attorney's opinion of easement viability, as well as other appropriate documents, must be available for National Fish and Wildlife Foundation staff review as part of the application process. For more specific information regarding funding for an acquisition of interest in real property, see the Applicant Guidance FAQ.
The fee transfer or perpetual easement must qualify for "conservation purposes" as defined by Internal Revenue Code Section 170(h), which generally includes the following: the preservation of land areas for outdoor recreation by, or the education of, the general public; the protection of relatively natural habitats of fish, wildlife, or plants, or similar ecosystems; the preservation of open space – including farmland and forest land – for scenic enjoyment or pursuant to an adopted governmental conservation policy; in either case, such open space preservation must yield a significant public benefit; the preservation of historically important land areas or buildings.
Projects that provide public access for people to enjoy and experience the outdoors, recreate and connect with nature is preferred. It must be clearly stated in the grant application what uses are or will be allowed or not allowed (hunting, nature observation, ATV use, camping, etc.).
Projects that can demonstrate the connection between project of lands and benefits to local economies are preferred. For example, projects could help expand tourism or recreational economies or contribute to community forestry.
Debt retirement on acquisition projects is not preferred.
Final disposition of land, including ownership, must be clearly stated. If the federal government is to receive land, additional review by NFWF may be necessary.
Applicants should be able to secure letters of support from appropriate Congressional representatives for acquisition of interest in a real property.
NFWF’s Partnership Office Directors can provide additional guidance on National Fish and Wildlife Foundation conservation priorities in your area.
All grant awards require a minimum 1:1 match of cash or contributed goods and services. Federal funds may be considered as match. Higher ratios of matching funds will, at times, aid in making applications more competitive.
All applications to the Acres for America Program will be made through a two-stage process, which includes a pre- and then a final-proposal.
The pre-proposal deadline is June 19. Only electronic pre-proposals submitted through Easygrants will be considered. When provided the opportunity, select "Apply for Funding"; and scroll down to Walmart's Acres for America and select this option. Please check this website frequently for updates and changes.
Following a review period of about four weeks, appropriate pre-proposals will be selected and applicants will be invited to submit full proposals. The deadline for final proposals is August 4. Final funding decisions will be made by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation's Board of Directors in November 2014. The entire application process, from the time a pre-proposal is submitted until a final decision is made is approximately six months.