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Washington, DC 20240
December 11, 2013
In Reply Refer To:
6100 (410) P
Instruction Memorandum No. 2014-018
Expires:   09/30/2015
To:                   State Directors
From:               Assistant Director, National Landscape Conservation System and Community Partnerships
Subject:           National Landscape Conservation System Research Support Program
                                                                       DD:  02/10/2014; 03/03/2014; 03/24/2014
Program Area: National Landscape Conservation System
Purpose:  Request for proposals for the FY2014 National Landscape Conservation System Research Support Program
Policy/Action:  The National Landscape Conservation System (National Conservation Lands) Research Support Program (Program) aims to increase the effectiveness of resource management by financially supporting scientific research that informs BLM’s decisions. The Program seeks to engage the external scientific community in conducting management-focused, scientific research in the National Conservation Lands that can benefit management of the National Conservation Lands and/or the broader BLM. Proposals are requested for the FY2014 National Conservation Lands Research Support Program from BLM managers with responsibility for National Conservation Lands. In developing proposals, please adhere to the instructions described below.
General Guidelines
Each proposal must: describe research that will inform decisions in the National Conservation Lands; be designed around a clearly articulated research question(s); be responsive to the National Conservation Lands 15-year Strategy, the State National Conservation Lands Strategy, the BLM and National Conservation Lands Science Strategies, and/or the unit’s science plan; and be consistent with all applicable laws, regulations, policies, and plans.
Research Themes
Each proposal must be responsive to at least one of the following research themes.
a.  Effectiveness Research: Research that empirically tests the effectiveness of management practices, e.g., past restoration efforts or best management practices for minimizing impacts.
b.  Standardized Inventory and Monitoring: Research that either develops or applies standardized, scientifically-defensible indicators and methods for inventorying and monitoring the resources, objects, and/or values for which National Conservation Lands were designated via adoption of the principles presented in the BLM’s Assessment, Inventory, and Monitoring Strategy.
c.   Research Syntheses: Research that synthesizes a diverse array of scientific investigations or data from a new perspective in order to improve best management practices for a National Conservation Lands priority topic.
d.   Citizen Science: Research that engages citizen scientists (volunteers) as assistants under agency supervision in data collection, compilation, or data analysis to improve BLM’s management of the National Conservation Lands (e.g. bio-blitzes).
e.   Other Management-Driven Research: Research that provides information that can directly inform a pertinent and pressing management question. 
Proposal Development
BLM managers are requested to develop proposals for the most urgent science needs of the National Conservation Lands that they manage. These proposals will be reviewed at the State Office and the Washington Office (WO)-410. Each State is allowed to submit up to six proposals for consideration by WO-410.
Proposals should:
a.  Be developed in collaboration with the partner who will conduct the research;
b.  Be no more than 10 pages in length, including all attachments;
c.   Be submitted as a single PDF document, including all attachments; and,
d.   Not include letters of support from BLM Field Offices and State Offices. WO-410 assumes all proposals submitted by State NLCS Leads have Field and State support. 
Proposals must be written as a stand-alone research proposal and include the following sections:
a.  Abstract (maximum of 300 words);
b.  Key words (maximum of 5 words);
c.   Theme area(s);
d.   National Conservation Lands involved;
e.   Introduction
          i.   Including description of the management question or concern;
          ii.  Including how the proposal is connected to the theme area;
          iii. Including how the proposal is connected to the unit science plan, if one exists;
f.    Research questions/hypotheses;
g.   Research methods, including data analysis;
h.   Results to date (if any);
i.    Benefits of project for BLM management
          iv.  Including how the project supports the unit’s plans and/or conservation, protection, and restoration of the unit’s designated values;
          v.   Including any landscape, ecoregional, or cross-program benefits;
j.  Detailed timeline of project (e.g., a Gantt chart that shows the tasks and beginning and ending dates of each task);
k.  Detailed budget;
          vi.  Please round the final budget request to the nearest thousand;
          vii. All matching funds should be in monetary terms, even for in-kind contributions;
l.  Deliverables (e.g. reports, peer-reviewed articles, GIS files, outreach tools);
          viii.  At a minimum, proposals must describe the submission to the BLM of:
1.  Annual progress reports;
2.  A final report, suitable for distribution to BLM staff;
3.  A manager’s summary (less than one 1 page report that helps inform managers’ decisions); and,
4.  A brief synopsis suitable for a broad public audience.
m.  BLM’s point person for project (including title, email, and phone number);
n.   Partner’s qualifications, affiliation, and contact details (including email); and,
o.   Relevant pictures (if any – no more than three). 
Proposals should be submitted to State NLCS Leads by 02/10/2014. Following submission, the State Office should review and rank the proposals. For multi-state proposals, State NLCS Leads should coordinate the State Office reviews, as much as possible.
Only proposals submitted by the due date will be accepted. The State Office’s review notes may also be uploaded, if the State Office wishes to include this information. State NLCS Leads must ensure that State Leadership supports both the submissions and the State Office rankings. State NLCS Leads are advised to notify the State Budget Office and the State Grants/Agreements Officer of the proposals submitted to WO-410 for consideration in order to help prepare for any additional workloads.
WO-410 will facilitate a WO inter-disciplinary review and ranking of the proposals submitted by NLCS State Leads. The following criteria will be used to guide the WO review of the proposals.
We encourage State Offices to use these criteria when reviewing the proposals.
a.  Is the proposal sufficiently responsive to at least one of the themes?
b.  Does the project have the potential to improve BLM’s management of the National Conservation Lands?
c.   Does the project have the potential to improve BLM’s management beyond the National Conservation Lands (e.g. within the landscape or ecoregion)?
d.   Does the project have credible methods, budgets, etc.?
e.   For BLM offices that have received funding in the past, have required deliverables been received by WO-410? 
Please note that WO-410 will consider the State Office rankings, the Washington Office reviews, and other national priorities when making funding decisions.
After the WO review and ranking, the Deputy Assistant Director for WO-400 (National Landscape Conservation System and Community Partnerships) will announce funding decisions via an email (with an attached report) to the Field Committee, State Budget Officers, and State NLCS Leads. This email will be sent around 03/24/2014 and funding will be distributed as soon as possible thereafter. The State Office is responsible for communicating the funding decisions to the BLM managers who submitted proposals.
Funding Details
Please read closely the following funding details for this program.
a.  The maximum allowable budget for projects is $25,000. Exceptions to this rule should be coordinated with Matt Preston, National Conservation Lands, Science Lead (202-912-7175, mpreston@blm.gov).
b.  Partners must conduct all the labor for the project; partner labor is an appropriate budget expense. BLM labor is not supported except if BLM resources are used to facilitate access for researchers to designated Wilderness, Wilderness Study Areas, or Wild and Scenic Rivers.
c.   Funding will not be awarded to individuals or for-profit organizations.
d.   WO-410 will use FY2014 funds (contingent upon available funds) to support these projects. Funding levels vary annually as funding allocations change; in FY2013 the program supported 24 projects and in FY2012 the program supported 37 projects.
e.   Following notice of the funding decision, WO-410 will transfer the funds to the State Office. The State NLCS Lead should work in collaboration with the State Budget Officer to ensure that these funds are promptly transferred to the appropriate office or obligated to the appropriate contract/agreement. No portion of these funds should be allocated to any other purpose than to fully fund the appropriate contract/agreement.
f.    Proposals will only be funded if the BLM has a valid contract/agreement for which the funds can be obligated in FY2014. It is the responsibility of the BLM State Offices, Field Offices and/or NLCS units to ensure this contract/agreement is in place. Please coordinate with the State Grants/Agreements Officer.
g.   All funds must be obligated in FY2014. It is possible for the obligated funds to be used for multiple years if the contract/agreement allows for the use of funds over multiple years. 
Reporting Requirements for WO-410
b.  Following the submission of the final report, the BLM project lead should submit a BLM Daily story with pictures about the project. Please coordinate this post with Matt Preston, National Conservation Lands, Science Lead (202-912-7175, mpreston@blm.gov
Time frame:  Proposals should be submitted to State NLCS Leads by 02/10/2014. State NLCS Leads should upload the top six proposals to this SharePoint site (on 03/03/2014. Funding decisions will be announced around 03/24/2014.http://teamspace/sites-wo/wo170nlc/researchsupport/default.aspx)
Budget Impact:  The budget impact associated with the development of proposals to respond to this request is in the form of BLM labor expenses. Funds to support the research projects will be allocated from the WO-410 FY2014 operations budget (contingent upon available funds).
Background:  The National Landscape Conservation System (also known as the National Conservation Lands) was legislatively established by the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 [Public Law 111-11] in order to conserve, protect, and restore nationally significant landscapes that have outstanding cultural, ecological, and scientific values for the benefit of current and future generations. The National Conservation Lands include BLM’s National Monuments, National Conservation Areas, Forest Reserves, legislated Outstanding Natural Areas, Cooperative Management and Protection Areas, Wilderness and Wilderness Study Areas, Wild and Scenic Rivers, and National Scenic and Historic Trails.
BLM policy states that “the BLM will use the best available science in managing NLCS units” and that “science and the scientific process will inform and guide management decisions concerning NLCS units” [BLM Manual §6100(1.6)(A)(9) and (1.6)(F)(1)]. Providing a scientific foundation for decision-making is also a goal identified in the National Conservation Lands 15-Year Strategy [Goal 1C].
Manual/Handbook Sections Affected:  None.
Coordination:  This IM has been coordinated with WO-200 and WO-400.
Contact:  Please direct questions regarding this IM to Matt Preston, National Conservation Lands, Science Lead (202-912-7175, MPreston@blm.gov).
Signed by:                                                                     Authenticated by:
Carl Rountree                                                                Robert M. Williams
Assistant Director, National Landscape                         Division of IRM Governance, WO-560
Conservation System and Community Partnerships

Last updated: 12-16-2013