50 CFR § 84.32 - What are the ranking criteria?
(a) The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will rank proposals using the 13 criteria listed below. In the following list, a description of each criterion is followed by examples and the points they would receive for that criterion.
(1) Wetlands conservation. Will the project reverse coastal wetland loss or habitat degradation in decreasing or stable coastal wetland types? Will it conserve wetlands to prevent losses of decreasing or stable wetland types? (Maximum: 7 points)
(i) The majority of the project area (over 50 percent) is nationally decreasing coastal wetland types, 2 or the majority is regionally decreasing wetlands types in which the case for regionally decreasing is well-documented (Up to 7 points). The nationally decreasing types are estuarine intertidal emergent; estuarine intertidal forested; estuarine intertidal scrub-shrub; marine intertidal; palustrine emergent; palustrine forested; and palustrine scrub-shrub. Describe the wetlands using terms listed above. Include a breakdown showing the percentage of the proposal's total and wetland acreage in decreasing types. Provide National Wetlands Inventory codes/information if available. Information about these can be found on the National Wetland Inventory's web site at http://wetlands.fws.gov.
2 These designations are based on the National Wetlands Priority Conservation Plan. For more information about the plan, or to receive a copy of the document, refer to the contact information provided in § 84.21.
(ii) The majority of the project area (over 50 percent) is nationally stable coastal wetlands types 2 (Up to 5 points). The nationally stable types are estuarine intertidal non-vegetated and estuarine subtidal. Describe the wetlands using the terms listed above. Include a breakdown showing the percentage of the proposal's total and wetland acreage in stable types. Provide National Wetlands Inventory codes/information if available.
(iii) Wetlands benefited are less than 50 percent of the project area. (Up to 3 points)
(iv) If the project would benefit wetlands in the upper portion of the coastal watershed, but does not demonstrate significant and direct benefits to coastal wetlands, the proposal will not receive any points. (0 points)
(v) We will award a full 7 points to proposals that document that over 50 percent of their project area would be, upon project completion, decreasing coastal wetland types. A combination of decreasing and stable types that is over 50 percent of the project area could receive an intermediate score of 4, 5, or 6 points, depending on the balance between decreasing and stable types. If wetlands are 50 percent or less of the project area, use the following guide for allocating points: 25 to 50 percent of the project area is decreasing or stable wetlands, 2, 3, or 4 points; 5 to 24 percent, 1 or 2 points; and less than 5 percent, 0 points.
(2) Maritime forests on coastal barriers. Will the proposal significantly benefit maritime forests on coastal barriers? The coastal barrier does not need to be a unit of the Coastal Barrier Resources System. (Maximum: 7 points)
(i) The proposal documents significant benefit to maritime forests on a coastal barrier. Describe the forest in sufficient detail so reviewers can determine whether it meets the definition of “maritime forest.” (Up to 7 points)
(ii) The proposal does not benefit maritime forests on a coastal barrier. (0 points)
(iii) For this criterion most scores should be either 0 or 7. If questions arise about the significance of the benefit or whether the forests meet the strict definition, an intermediate score could be given.
(3) Long-term conservation. Does the project ensure long-term conservation of coastal wetland functions? The project must provide at least 20 years of conservation benefits to be eligible. (Maximum: 7 points)
(iii) Once the project is complete, the proposal will provide continuing coastal wetlands benefits for 20-49 years. (1 to 3 points)
(iv) The proposal should show how the project will be maintained and the benefits sustained over time. Proposals must include adequate documentation of long-term conservation of coastal wetland values, such as a 25-year easement, to receive points for this criterion. If part of the project's benefits will be perpetual (owned in fee title, for example) and part is estimated to last 20 years, reviewers should weigh the different elements of the project and give an intermediate score.
(4) Coastal watershed management. Would the completed project help accomplish the natural resource goals and objectives of one or more formal, ongoing coastal ecosystem or coastal watershed management plan(s) or effort(s)? Describe the management plan or effort(s). (Maximum: 3 points)
(i) The project supports the natural resource goals of identified formal, ongoing coastal ecosystem or coastal watershed management plans or efforts. Describe the management plan(s) and/or effort(s) and explain how this project relates to its objectives. A plan that very specifically identifies the site will receive more points than a plan containing many generic references. (Up to 3 points)
(ii) The project does not support the natural resource goals and objectives of a formal, ongoing coastal ecosystem or coastal watershed management effort. If the proposal benefits the upper portions of coastal watersheds, but provides no significant and direct benefits to the coastal wetlands ecosystems, the proposal will not receive points. (0 points)
(5) Conservation of threatened and endangered species. Will the project benefit any federally listed endangered or threatened species, species proposed for Federal listing, recently delisted species, or designated or proposed critical habitat in coastal wetlands? Will it benefit State-listed threatened and endangered species? (Maximum: 5 points)
(i) The project will provide, restore, or enhance important habitat (e.g., nesting, breeding, feeding, nursery areas) for federally listed or proposed endangered or threatened species that use the coastal area project site for at least part of their life cycle. The project will benefit recently delisted species and habitat conservation plans developed under the auspices of the Endangered Species Act. List the species and their status (e.g., threatened or endangered) and provide documentation (e.g., cite recovery plan, attach letter from species expert) of current or recent species occurrence in the coastal area project site. Describe the importance of the habitat. (Up to 5 points)
(iii) The project will not provide, restore, or enhance important habitat for federally or State-listed or proposed endangered or threatened species in the coastal area project site for any part of their life cycle. If the proposal provides benefits to threatened and endangered species in the upper portion of the coastal watershed, but provides no significant and direct benefits to threatened and endangered species using coastal wetlands ecosystem habitat, the proposal will not receive any points. (0 points)
(iv) The combined scores of subparagraphs (a)(5)(i) and (a)(5)(ii) of this section cannot exceed the 5-point maximum.
(6) Benefits to fish. Will the project provide, restore, or enhance important fisheries habitat? (Maximum: 5 points)
(i) The project will provide, restore, or enhance important habitat (i.e., spawning, nursery, juvenile, or foraging habitat) for specific species that use the coastal area project site for at least part of their life cycle. These species may include anadromous, interjurisdictional, or other important species. List species, habitat types, and benefits to each species. (Up to 5 points)
(ii) The project does not document current or future benefits to fish species and their habitat. (0 points)
(iii) The more specific the information is on the use of the area and the importance of the habitat, the greater the points. An area specifically identified as critical for conservation in a fisheries management plan will, for example, receive more points than one which is not.
(7) Benefits to coastal-dependent or migratory birds. Will the project provide, restore, or enhance important habitat for coastal-dependent or migratory birds?
(i) The project will provide, restore, or enhance important habitat (i.e., breeding, staging, foraging, wintering/summering habitat) benefits for at least part of the life cycle of coastal dependent or migratory birds. List the species and habitat types, and describe the benefits to each. (Up to 5 points)
(ii) The project will not significantly benefit coastal-dependent or migratory birds. (0 points)
(iii) We will give maximum points to projects that benefit coastal-dependent species identified in the North American Waterfowl Plan or listed as species of management concern. 3 Proposals should also include information that demonstrates how the project will contribute to the regional goals developed under the U.S. Shorebird Conservation Plan, the North American Waterbird Conservation Plan, Partners in Flight, the North American Waterfowl Management Plan, or other bird conservation initiatives. Proposals that fail to do so will not receive maximum points. Indicate if the proposed area has been specifically identified by any program or agency for its migratory bird values.
(8) Prevent or reduce contamination. Will the project prevent or reduce input of contaminants to the coastal wetlands and associated coastal waters, or restore coastal wetlands and other associated coastal waters that are already contaminated? (Maximum: 5 points)
(i) The project will prevent significant inputs of contaminants or will provide significant improvements to the quality of the coastal wetland and associated waters through protection from contaminants or restoration, including assimilation of nutrients and nonpersistent toxic substances. Describe the types and sources of possible or current impairment to the coastal wetland and other associated coastal waters (e.g., to water quality, sediments, flora, or fauna). Describe how contaminant inputs or residues will be prevented, reduced, or eliminated. Preventing contaminants by precluding residential development through acquisition will not normally warrant full points unless the applicant can be shown that significant contamination would have occurred otherwise. (Up to 5 points)
(ii) The proposal will not significantly prevent impairment or improve the quality of the coastal wetland and associated coastal waters. If the proposal provides positive water quality benefits in the upper portions of watersheds, but provides no significant and direct positive water quality benefits to coastal wetland ecosystems, the proposal will not receive points. (0 points)
(iii) Show direct links between contamination and wildlife and aquatic habitats. To receive full points, you should provide documentation of the linkage. Reviewers may consider the extent of contaminants prevention/reduction when assigning points. Proposals having the potential to produce an attractive nuisance (e.g., acquiring and/or restoring a wetland that will be attractive to wildlife and that also has the potential to accumulate high levels of persistent toxic metals or hydrocarbon compounds) will not receive points.
(9) Catalyst for future conservation. Is the project proposal designed to leverage other ongoing coastal wetlands protection projects in the area, such as acquisition of areas to add to already acquired coastal lands, or provide impetus for additional restoration? (Maximum: 4 points)
(i) The project will be essential (e.g., key to completion or implementation of a greater conservation plan) to further advance or promote other coastal projects under way. Explain why. (Up to 4 points)
(ii) The project proposal does not demonstrate a positive impact on other coastal projects. (0 points)
(iii) To receive the maximum number of points, the proposal should be essential to the initiation or completion of a larger project. Examples may include acquisition of key in-holdings within a larger protected area, funds necessary to acquire fee simple interest in properties where a conservation easement has already been secured, and funds necessary to complete restoration activities to a protected area.
(10) Partners in conservation. Will the proposal receive financial support, including in-kind match, from private, local, or other Federal interests? (Maximum: 4 points)
(i) The proposal includes the State applicant plus one or more non-State financial partners. (Up to 4 points)
(ii) The proposal includes only financial support from the State applicant. (0 points)
(iii) A written description of commitment of funds or in-kind match from the partners must accompany the proposal. (This requirement is in addition to signing the Assurances Form.) The purpose of this criterion is to promote partnerships with private, local, or other Federal agencies rather than to increase the dollar amount of the matching share. Therefore, no specific minimum amount is indicated here. At least two partners, in addition to the State applicant, should have committed money to the project to receive maximum points.
(11) Federal share reduced. Does the proposal significantly reduce the Federal share by providing more than the required match amount? In the case of a Territory or Commonwealth that does not require match funds, does the proposal include financial support from sources other than the Territory or Commonwealth? (Maximum: 5 points)
(i) The State, territory, or commonwealth applicant must have a non-Federal funding source (in-kind match does not count for this criterion) that reduces the Federal share. (Up to 5 points)
(ii) The maximum Federal share is requested by the proposal. (0 points)
(iii) The purpose of this criterion is to increase the amount of money from non-Federal sources. This increase decreases the need for Federal match dollars, so that Federal dollars can help more projects. Documentation of each partner's financial commitment must accompany the proposal to receive points. If the State itself provides the excess match, the State should receive credit for reducing the Federal share. Each 5 percent above the required State match would be approximately equal to 1 point. The following two examples, using both a 50 and 75 percent Federal match share, define a 10 percent increase in a State's match amount.
(A) Example 1-50 - Percent Federal Match
4 From sources other than Federal agencies. Natural Resource Damage Assessment funds may in some cases be defined as “non-Federal.” See discussion under § 84.46 on What are the cost-sharing requirements?
(B) Example 2-75 - Percent Federal Match
(12) Education/outreach program or wildlife-oriented recreation. Is the project designed to increase environmental awareness and develop support for coastal wetlands conservation? Does it provide recreational opportunities that are consistent with the conservation goals of the site? (Maximum: 3 points)
(i) The proposal includes a site-specific, substantive education/outreach or wildlife-oriented recreation program. (Up to 3 points)
(ii) The proposal does not include a substantive education/outreach or wildlife-oriented recreation program. (0 points)
(iii) The proposal must describe what makes this program substantive and link it closely with the specific site to receive full points. Programs supported by activities or funds from partners should be encouraged over use of project dollars. Project proposals may include substantive education/outreach components necessary for the completion of the project. However, these should be activities that complement or support the primary goal of the project.
(13) Other factors. Do any other factors, not covered in the previous criteria, make this project or site particularly unique and valuable? Does the project offer important benefits that are not reflected in the other criteria? The following list includes examples of projects that provide benefits not reflected in other criteria. (Maximum: 4 points)
(i) The project might provide significant benefits to, for example: rare or threatened habitat types; biodiverse habitats; rare and declining species; and the local community.
(ii) The project would be particularly cost-effective, providing very significant resource benefits for the cost.
(iii) The project would assist in the prevention or control of invasive species.
(iv) The project would provide important cultural or historical resource benefits.
(v) The project would provide other benefits.
(vi) Reviewers should not assign points to resource values covered by other criteria. The proposal should provide a short narrative to support claims to Other Factors points.
(b) Additional considerations. We will factor the following considerations into the ranking process if two or more proposals have the same point totals. The tie-breaking factors are as follows:
(1) The project would prevent the destruction or degradation of habitat from pending sale of property, from adverse effects of current activities such as draining of wetlands, or from natural processes such as erosion at excessive rates;
(2) The project would protect unique and significant biological diversity;
(3) The project has lower costs per acre conserved; and
(c) All proposals must include the information described in paragraphs (b) (1)-(4) of this section. If a tie occurs between two or more proposals, the reviewers need to have this information available immediately to decide which proposal or proposals should be recommended for selection.