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PARTNERS FOR WILDLIFE PROJECT RANKING CRITERIA

 The Lower Mississippi River Ecosystem Team’s Private Lands Committee (Committee) has developed ranking criteria for the selection of Partners for Wildlife (Partners) projects.  When developing these criteria, the Committee attempted to adhere to guidelines defining acceptable “tools” available for implementing the Partners program, and their respective funding sources, in accordance with Partners Notice 93-5.  The primary purpose of this system is to prioritize those projects which will cumulatively result in meeting or exceeding annual wetland restoration targets for the Lower Mississippi River Ecosystem (such as those identified for FY 1996 within Partners Notice 95-6).  The Committee intends to review all future Partners project proposals based upon these following criteria:

Primary Criteria

I.) First priority projects are those that reestablish, as nearly as practical, the original wetland vegetation and hydrology on at least 70 percent of the project site (e.g., bottomland hardwood reforestation on cropland or pasture which formerly consisted of that habitat-type).  Non-wetland sites which provide benefits to threatened or         endangered species, unique habitat-types, or are important for ecosystem restoration purposes (e.g., critical links in bottomland hardwood corridors connecting large wooded blocks, etc.) also fall into this category.

II.) Second priority projects consist of those which establish wetland vegetation and hydrology different from what existed prior to degradation, but at least partially replace the original habitat functions and values (e.g., creation of a moist-soil management area on cropland which formerly consisted of a different habitat-type).

All projects falling within either priority categories I or II will be ranked according to the following secondary criteria (in descending order of importance):

Secondary Criteria

1.) Projects which are ongoing (typically larger, multi-year projects partially funded in previous years).

2.) Projects which benefit threatened or endangered species (direct benefits are most important).

3.) Projects which involve rare or unique habitat-types (e.g., cheniers, prairies, etc.).

4.) Projects which are located adjacent to (or directly benefit) federal or state refuges, or other permanently protected areas.

5.) Projects which are important for ecosystem restoration (corridors, etc.), or are located         within large, unfragmented habitat target areas identified by the Lower Mississippi Valley Migratory Bird Working Group (assisted by the Vicksburg GIS team).

6.) Projects which are located adjacent to large blocks of unprotected habitat.

7.) Amount of cooperator contributions (in proposals which are similarly ranked according to the above criteria, this factor will be weighted in importance).

8.) Length of agreement (weighted factor if all other criteria are equal).

General Project Requirements

The Committee intends to select all projects meeting the first priority category requirements before considering any second priority project proposals.  In general, projects which consist of conducting silvicultural practices on existing bottomland hardwood forestland (including any cut-over areas where stumps are still present), and projects which involve equipment purchases are not eligible.  However, projects which consist of conducting silvicultural practices on existing pine forestland in the historic range of longleaf or shortleaf pine (including any cut-over areas where stumps are still present), and which strive to reintroduce longleaf or shortleaf pine will be eligible, but they may be ranked lower than other restoration projects which restore agricultural or pasture lands.  The $10,000 spending limitation per landowner per year may be waived depending upon the importance of the project and the number of viable, competing project proposals received. 

All Partners agreements involving reforestation of bottomland hardwoods should specify a minimum agreement duration of 25 years.  Service biologists should verify the intent of cooperators to complete Partners restoration measures regardless of acceptance in other conservation programs (e.g. WRP, CRP, etc.); those cooperators without such intent are ineligible to participate in Partners due to logistical difficulties with reallocation of funds.  Although those projects which are already accepted in CRP or WRP restoration agreements are still eligible to participate in Partners (with minimum agreement lengths of 20 to 30 years), such projects will be ranked lower than those not yet accepted in other conservation programs (with all other factors being equal).  Aquatic projects will compete with terrestrial projects using the same criteria identified above.

LMR Guidelines for Combining Partners Projects with USDA Conservation Programs

 

USDA Program

Easement type or Practice

USDA Status

Eligibility for Partners piggy-back

Requirements or Details of  Eligibility

WRP

Perpetual Easement

Intention not yet accepted

Eligible

USDA ranking not credited with Partners participation until FWS Committee approves project.

WRP

Perpetual Easement

Intention accepted

Ineligible (see details)

Eligible only if intention accepted into WRP after FWS Committee approved Partners project, or if site is early WRP signup where NRCS did not complete hydrologic restoration.

WRP

30-year Easement

Intention not yet accepted

Eligible

USDA ranking not credited with Partners participation until FWS Committee approves project.

WRP

30-year Easement

Intention accepted

Ineligible (see details

Eligible only if intention accepted into WRP after FWS Committee approved Partners project.

WRP

Restoration Agreement

Intention not yet accepted

Eligible

USDA ranking not credited with Partners participation until FWS Committee approves project.

Minimum Partners agreement duration of 25 years.

WRP

Restoration Agreement

Intention accepted*

Eligible

Minimum Partners agreement duration of 25 years.

CRP

CP3A-Hardwood Tree Planting

Accepted or not yet accepted*

Eligible

Minimum Partners agreement duration of 25-30 years.

(twice the USDA contract length)

CRP

CP4-Permanent Wildlife Habitat

Accepted or not yet accepted*

Eligible

Minimum Partners agreement duration of 25-30 years.

(twice the USDA contract length)

CRP

CP9-Shallow Water Areas for Wildlife

Accepted or not yet accepted*

Eligible

Minimum Partners agreement duration of 20 years (25 years if tree planting involved).

Note: Combination restoration/enhancement projects are more competitive for limited Partners funds (than strictly enhancement projects).

CRP

CP21-Filter Strips

Accepted or not yet accepted*

Eligible

Minimum Partners agreement duration of 25-30 years.

(twice the USDA contract length)

Minimum filter strip width of 100-feet.

CRP

CP22-Riparian Buffer

Accepted or not yet accepted*

Eligible

Minimum Partners agreement duration of 25-30 years.

(twice the USDA contract length)

Minimum filter strip width of 100-feet.

CRP

CP23-Wetland Restoration

Accepted or not yet accepted*

Eligible

Minimum Partners agreement duration of 25-30 years.

(twice the USDA contract length)

                 * Projects accepted in other conservation programs will be ranked lower than those not yet accepted (with all other factors being equal).