[Federal Register: June 7, 2002 (Volume 67, Number 110)]
[Page 39419-39423]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

RIN 1018-AI56

Fiscal Year 2002 Private Stewardship Grants Program; Proposed 
Program Implementation

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice; request for comments.


SUMMARY: For Fiscal Year 2002, Congress appropriated $10 million from 
the Land and Water Conservation Fund for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service (Service) to establish a Private Stewardship Grants Program 
(PSGP). The PSGP provides grants and other assistance on a competitive 
basis to individuals and groups engaged in private conservation efforts 
that benefit species listed as endangered or threatened under the 
Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act), species proposed or 
candidates for such listing, or other at-risk species (e.g., species 
formally recognized as a species of conservation concern, such as 
species listed by a State or Territory). We request comments on the 
proposed eligibility criteria, project ranking factors and scoring 
system, or any other aspect of the Private Stewardship Grants Program.

DATES: We will accept comments on program implementation until July 8, 

ADDRESSES: Send comments regarding program implementation to Chief, 
Branch of Recovery and State Grants, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 
4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Room 420, Arlington, VA 22203.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Martin Miller, Chief, Branch of 
Recovery and State Grants (703/358-2061).



    The majority of endangered and threatened species depend, at least 
in part, upon privately owned lands for their survival. The help of 
landowners is essential for the conservation of these and other 
imperiled species. Fortunately, many private landowners want to help. 
Often, however, the costs associated with implementing conservation 
actions are greater than a landowner could undertake without financial 
assistance. The President's Budget for Fiscal Year 2002 requested 
funding to address this need and Congress responded by appropriating 
$10 million in FY 2002 from the Land and Water Conservation Fund for 
the Service to establish the PSGP. The PSGP provides grants or other 
Federal assistance on a competitive basis to individuals and groups 
engaged in private conservation efforts that benefit species listed or 
proposed as endangered or threatened under the Act, candidate species, 
or other at-risk species on private (non-governmentally owned) lands 
within the United States.

What Types of Projects May Be Funded?

    Eligible projects include those by landowners and their partners 
who need technical and financial assistance to improve habitat or 
implement other activities on private lands for the benefit of 
endangered, threatened, candidate, proposed, or other at-risk species. 
Examples of the types of projects that may be funded include restoring 
natural hydrology to streams or wetlands that support imperiled 
species, fencing to exclude animals from sensitive habitats, or 
planting native vegetation to restore degraded habitat.

Who Can Apply for These Grants?

    Individual private landowners as well as groups of private 
landowners will ybe encouraged to submit project proposals for their 
properties. Additionally, individuals or groups (e.g., land 
conservancies) working with private landowners on conservation efforts 
will also be encouraged to submit project proposals provided they 
identify specific private landowners who have confirmed their intent to 
participate with them in the conservation efforts.

What Are the Proposed Eligibility Criteria for Proposed Projects?

    We propose that all of the following criteria must be satisfied for 
a proposal to be considered for funding: (1) The project must involve 
voluntary conservation efforts on behalf of private landowners within 
the United States (i.e., U.S. States and Territories); (2) the project 
must benefit species listed as endangered or threatened under the Act 
by the Service, species proposed or designated as candidates for 
listing by the Service, or other at-risk species that are native to the 
United States; (3) the proposal must include at least 10 percent cost 
sharing (i.e., at least 10 percent of total project cost) on the part 
of the landowner or other non-Federal partners involved in the project 
(the cost-share may be an in-kind contribution, including equipment, 
materials, operations, and maintenance costs); (4) the proposal must 
identify at least some of the specific landowners who have confirmed 
their intent to participate in the private conservation efforts (not 
all participating landowners need to be identified at the time of the 
proposal submission); (5) the proposal must include a reasonably 
detailed budget indicating how the funding will be used and how each 
partner is contributing; and (6) the proposal must include quantifiable 
measures that can be used to evaluate the project's success. The 
project proposal should also indicate whether partial funding of the 
project is practicable, and, if so, what specific portion(s) of the 
project could be implemented with what level of funding. A project 
proposal that fits into a longer-term initiative will be considered; 
however, the proposed project's objectives and benefits must stand on 
their own, as there are no assurances that additional funding

[[Page 39420]]

would be awarded in subsequent years for other related projects.
    We do not intend to grant funding for projects that serve to 
satisfy regulatory requirements of the Act including complying with a 
biological opinion under section 7 of the Act or fulfilling commitments 
of a Habitat Conservation Plan under section 10 of the Act, or for 
projects that serve to satisfy other local, State, or Federal 
regulatory requirements (e.g., mitigation for local, State, or Federal 
permits). Additionally, we do not intend to award grants to fund the 
acquisition of real property either through fee title or easements. 
However, habitat improvements over and above any existing requirements 
for lands covered under current easements or other such conservation 
tools would be considered eligible for funding.
    In addition to the above general eligibility criteria that will be 
required for project proposals to be considered for funding, there will 
be additional requirements for projects that are selected to receive 
funding under the PSGP. These requirements include specific Federal 
financial management requirements and time commitments for maintaining 
habitat improvements or other activities described in the project 
proposal. These requirements vary depending on the type of grantee 
(individual, nonprofit organization, etc.) and the type of project to 
be funded (e.g., grantees will be required to satisfy the time 
commitment as described in their proposal for leaving the habitat 
improvement in place in order to realize the desired habitat benefits). 
Additionally, the Service, in cooperation with the grantees, must 
address Federal compliance issues, such as the National Environmental 
Policy Act, the National Historic Preservation Act, and the Endangered 
Species Act. For the projects that are selected to receive funding, we 
will provide additional guidance on compliance with these requirements.

How Will Proposals Be Selected?

    Proposals will compete at a regional level for funding. We will 
target 50 percent of the grant funding to the Service's Regions based 
on the number of acres of non-Federal land, as a representation of the 
amount of private land within each Region, and 50 percent based on the 
number of listed, proposed, candidate, and other at-risk species in 
each Region (see Table 1). Within each Region, a diverse panel of 
representatives from State and Federal government, conservation 
organizations, agriculture and development interests, and the science 
community will assess the applications and make funding recommendations 
to the Service. The purpose of using the diverse panels is to obtain 
individual advice on project selection from an array of interests 
involved with conservation efforts on private lands. The Service will 
make all funding selections, subject only to the final approval of the 
Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks. The Service will 
award grants for actions and activities that protect and restore 
habitats that benefit federally listed, proposed or candidate species, 
or other at risk species on private lands.

 Table 1.--Service Regions and Funding Target for Grants in Each Region
                                                         Total funding
            Region                    States and       target for grants
                                     territories         within region
Region 1 (Pacific)............  California, Hawaii,           $2,821,859
                                 Idaho, Oregon,
                                 Washington, Nevada,
                                 American Samoa,
                                 Guam, and
                                 Commonwealth of the
                                 Northern Mariana
Region 2 (Southwest)..........  Arizona, New Mexico,           1,490,457
                                 Oklahoma, and Texas.
Region 3 (Great Lakes-Big       Illinois, Indiana,               942,981
 Rivers).                        Iowa, Michigan,
                                 Minnesota, Missouri,
                                 Ohio, and Wisconsin.
Region 4 (Southeast)..........  Alabama, Arkansas,             1,723,690
                                 Florida, Georgia,
                                 Kentucky, Louisiana,
                                 Mississippi, North
                                 Carolina, South
                                 Carolina, Tennessee,
                                 Puerto Rico, and the
                                 U.S. Virgin Islands.
Region 5 (Northeast)..........  Connecticut,                     634,151
                                 Delaware, District
                                 of Columbia, Maine,
                                 Massachusetts, New
                                 Hampshire, New
                                 Jersey, New York,
                                 Pennsylvania, Rhode
                                 Island, Vermont,
                                 Virginia, and West
Region 6 (Mountain-Prairie)...  Colorado, Kansas,              1,413,886
                                 Montana, Nebraska,
                                 North Dakota, South
                                 Dakota, Utah, and
Region 7 (Alaska).............  Alaska...............            472,976

    Members of each diverse panel will individually score each proposal 
based on a set of ranking factors, which include (1) the number of 
endangered or threatened species, species proposed or candidates for 
such listing, and at-risk species that will benefit from the project; 
(2) the importance of the project to the conservation of those species, 
including the duration of the benefits, the magnitude of the benefits, 
and the urgency of the project; (3) the amount of non-Federal cost 
sharing involved in the project; and (4) other proposal merits, such as 
whether the project complements other conservation projects in the 
area, the project's unique qualities, feasibility of the project, or 
any other appropriate justifications, including particular strengths in 
the above categories (e.g., extraordinary benefits). Final project 
selections will be based on projects' total scores, although geographic 
distribution of projects, the amount of funding requested for a project 
compared with the total amount of funding available, and other such 
factors may also be considered. Partial funding of one or more 
projects, when practicable, may be considered.
    Due to the wide variety of project proposals that will likely be 
submitted, the scoring system must provide a relatively high degree of 
flexibility. Therefore, a scoring system that is relatively simple, but 
allows project proposals to be evaluated qualitatively as well as 
quantitatively is desired. We propose that the four ranking factors be 
scored as described in Table 2 below.

[[Page 39421]]

              Table 2.--Project Proposal Scoring Guidelines
                           [10 points maximum]
                                        Project proposal      Number of
           Ranking factor                  assessment           points
(1) The number of federally listed,  1 or 2 species........            1
 proposed, candidate, or at-risk     3 or more species.....            2
 species that will benefit from the
(2) The importance of the project    Qualitative...........          1-4
 to the conservation of the target
 species, including the duration of
 the benefits, the magnitude of the
 benefits, and the urgency of the
(3) The amount of non-Federal cost   Five percent or                 0-1
 sharing involved in the project.     greater in addition
                                      to the required ten
(4) Other Proposal Merits. Whether   Qualitative...........          0-3
 the project complements other
 projects in the area, the
 project's unique qualities,
 feasibility of the project, or any
 other appropriate justifications,
 including particular strengths in
 the above categories (e.g.
 extraordinary benefits).

How Will the PSGP Further the Mission of the Service?

    In accordance with the Government Performance and Results Act of 
1993 (31 U.S.C. 1115), the Service prepares a Strategic Plan. This plan 
describes the Service's performance goals and measures. Additionally, 
President Bush has launched a bold new strategy for improving the 
management and performance of the Federal government. Secretary Norton 
has adopted the President's management agenda and created a new vision 
of management excellence at the Department of the Interior that focuses 
her commitment to citizen-centered governance around ``four Cs''': 
Conservation through Cooperation, Consultation, and Communication.
    The PSGP will reflect the President's strategy and embody the 
Secretary's commitment to citizen-centered government. The eligibility 
criteria, selection factors, and reporting requirements in the PSGP 
will ensure that the projects funded maximize progress toward our goals 
and measures. Among others, the PSGP will further the Service's goals 
for conserving imperiled species and habitat conservation as described 
in the Service's strategic plan. Information on the Service's strategic 
plans and performance reports are available on the Service's internet 
site at http://planning.fws.gov/.

Public Comments Solicited

    We intend that the actions resulting from this proposed program 
implementation be as accurate and effective as possible. Therefore, any 
suggestions from the public, concerned governmental agencies, the 
scientific community, environmental groups, industry, commercial trade 
entities, or any other interested party concerning this proposed 
program implementation guidance are hereby solicited. We will take into 
consideration any comments and additional information received and we 
will announce a Request for Proposals in the Federal Register after the 
close of the comment period and as promptly as possible after all 
comments have been reviewed and analyzed. The Request for Proposals 
will describe the final eligibility criteria and ranking factors to be 
used for Fiscal Year 2002 and provide instructions on how to apply for 
these grants.
    Our practice is to make comments, including names and home 
addresses of respondents, available for public review during regular 
business hours. Respondents may request that we withhold their home 
address, which we will honor to the extent allowable by law. There also 
may be circumstances in which we would withhold a respondent's 
identity, as allowable by law. If you wish us to withhold your name or 
address, you must state this request prominently at the beginning of 
your comment. However, we will not consider anonymous comments. To the 
extent consistent with applicable law, we will make all submissions 
from organizations or businesses, and from individuals identifying 
themselves as representatives or officials of organizations or 
businesses, available for public inspection in their entirety. Comments 
and materials received will be available for public inspection, by 
appointment, during normal business hours at the Division of 
Consultation, HCPs, Recovery, and State Grants in Arlington, Virginia 

Required Determinations

Regulatory Planning and Review

    This policy document identifies proposed eligibility criteria and 
selection factors that may be used to award grants under the PSGP. The 
Service developed this draft policy to ensure consistent and adequate 
evaluation of project proposals that are voluntarily submitted and to 
help perspective applicants understand how grants will be awarded. In 
accordance with Executive Order (E.O.) 12866, this policy document is 
significant and has been reviewed by the Office of Management and 
Budget (OMB) in accordance with the four criteria discussed below.
    (a) The PSGP will not have an annual effect on the economy of $100 
million or more or adversely affect in a material way the economy, a 
sector of the economy, productivity, jobs, the environment, public 
health or safety, or State, local or tribal communities. A total of 
$9,500,000 will be awarded in grants to private landowners or their 
partners to implement voluntary conservation actions.
    These funds will be used to pay for actions such as restoring 
natural hydrology to streams or wetlands that support imperiled 
species, fencing to exclude animals from sensitive habitats, or 
planting native vegetation to restore degraded habitat. In addition, 
the projects that are funded will generate other secondary benefits, 
including benefits to natural systems (e.g., air, water) and local 
economies. All of these benefits are distributed widely and are not 
likely to be significant in any one location. It is likely that local 
residents near projects where grants are awarded will experience some 
level of benefit, but it is not possible to quantify these effects at 
this time. However, the sum total of all the benefits from this program 
is not expected to have an annual effect on the economy of $100 million 
or more.
    (b) We do not believe the PSGP would create inconsistencies with 
other agencies' actions. Congress has given the Service responsibility 
to administer the program.
    (c) As a new grant program, the PSGP would materially affect 
entitlements, grants, user fees, loan programs, or the

[[Page 39422]]

rights and obligations of their recipients. The submission of project 
proposals is completely voluntary. However, when an applicant decides 
to submit a project proposal, the proposed eligibility criteria and 
selection factors identified in this policy can be construed as 
requirements placed on the awarding of the grants. Additionally, we 
will place further requirements on proponents of projects that are 
selected to receive funding under the PSGP. These requirements include 
specific Federal financial management requirements and time commitments 
for maintaining habitat improvements or other activities described in 
the applicant's project proposal in order to obtain and retain the 
benefit they are seeking.
    (d) OMB has determined that this policy raises novel legal or 
policy issues and, as a result, this document has undergone OMB review.

Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.)

    Under the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq., as 
amended by the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act 
(SBREFA) of 1996), whenever an agency is required to publish a notice 
of rulemaking for any proposed or final rule, it must prepare and make 
available for public comment a regulatory flexibility analysis that 
describes the effects of the rule on small entities (i.e., small 
businesses, small organizations, and small government jurisdictions). 
However, no regulatory flexibility analysis is required if the head of 
the agency certifies the rule will not have a significant economic 
impact on a substantial number of small entities. SBREFA amended the 
Regulatory Flexibility Act to require Federal agencies to provide a 
statement of the factual basis for certifying that the rule will not 
have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small 
entities. SBREFA also amended the RFA to require a certification 
statement. In this notice, we are certifying that the PSGP will not 
have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small 
entities for the reasons described below.
    Small entities include small organizations, such as independent 
non-profit organizations, and small governmental jurisdictions, 
including school boards and city and town governments that serve fewer 
than 50,000 residents, as well as small businesses. Small businesses 
include manufacturing and mining concerns with fewer than 500 
employees, wholesale trade entities with fewer than 100 employees, 
retail and service businesses with less than $5 million in annual 
sales, general and heavy construction businesses with less than $27.5 
million in annual business, special trade contractors doing less than 
$11.5 million in annual business, and agricultural businesses with 
annual sales less than $750,000. To determine if potential economic 
impacts to these small entities are significant, we consider the types 
of activities that might trigger impacts as a result of this program. 
In general, the term significant economic impact is meant to apply to a 
typical small business firm's business operations.
    The types of effects this program could have on small entities 
include economic benefits resulting from the purchasing of supplies or 
labor to implement the project proposals. However, since this program 
will be awarding a total of only $9,500,000 for projects throughout the 
United States, a substantial number of small entities are unlikely to 
be affected. The benefits from this program will be spread over such a 
large area that it is unlikely that any significant benefits will 
accrue to a significant number of entities in any area. In total, the 
distribution of $9,500,000 will not create a significant economic 
benefit for small entities, but clearly a number of entities will 
receive some benefit.

Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (2 U.S.C. 1501 et seq.)

    In accordance with the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (2 U.S.C. 1501 
August 25, 2000 et seq.):
    (a) We believe this rule will not ``significantly or uniquely'' 
affect small governments. A Small Government Agency Plan is not 
required. This program provides benefits to private landowners.
    (b) This rule will not produce a Federal mandate of $100 million or 
greater in any year; that is, it is not a ``significant regulatory 
action'' under the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act. The PSGP imposes no 
obligations on State or local governments.


    In accordance with Executive Order 12630 (``Government Actions and 
Interference with Constitutionally Protected Private Property 
Rights''), the PSGP does not have significant takings implications. 
While private landowners may choose to directly or indirectly implement 
actions that may have property implications, they would do so as a 
result of their own decisions, not as result of the PSGP. The PSGP has 
no provisions that would take private property rights.

Executive Order 13211

    On May 18, 2001, the President issued an Executive Order (E.O. 
13211) on regulations that significantly affect energy supply, 
distribution, and use. Executive Order 13211 requires agencies to 
prepare Statements of Energy Effects when undertaking certain actions. 
Although this rule is a significant regulatory action under Executive 
Order 12866, it is not expected to significantly affect energy 
supplies, distribution, or use. Therefore, this action is not a 
significant energy action and no Statement of Energy Effects is 


    In accordance with Executive Order 13132, the rule does not have 
significant Federalism effects. A Federalism assessment is not 
required. Congress has directed that we administer grants under the 
PSGP directly to private landowners.

Civil Justice Reform

    In accordance with Executive Order 12988, the PSGP does not unduly 
burden the judicial system and does meet the requirements of sections 
3(a) and 3(b)(2) of the Order. With the guidance provided in this 
policy document, the requirements of the PSGP will be clarified to 
applicants that voluntarily submit project proposals.

Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.

    In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act (44 U.S.C. 3501), 
please note the following information. The information collection 
associated with the PSGP is authorized by the Department of the 
Interior and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2002, H.R. 2217/
Public Law 107-63. The information collection solicited is necessary to 
gain a benefit in the form of a grant, as determined by the Secretary 
of the Interior. An agency may not conduct or sponsor, and a person is 
not required to respond to, a collection of information unless it 
displays a currently valid Office of Management and Budget (OMB) 
control number. An information collection package has been submitted to 
OMB for approval. The OMB has up to 60 days to approve or disapprove 
the proposed information collection, but may respond after 30 days. To 
request a copy of the information collection approval request, 
explanatory information, and related forms, contact Rebecca A. Mullin 
at (703) 358-2287. A copy of the information collection approval 
request is also available electronically on the Service's website at 

[[Page 39423]]

    The likely respondents for grants under the PSGP will include 
individuals and private groups, and the submission of project proposals 
is voluntary. The collected information can be separated into two 
categories: the project proposal and the reporting requirements 
required for those projects that are selected to receive funding. To 
apply for a PSGP grant, individuals or groups must submit a project 
proposal. The project proposal should include information demonstrating 
that the eligibility criteria have been met and should be organized 
such that the ranking factors can be easily evaluated and other 
considerations can be easily identified. We will use this information 
to determine the eligibility and relative value of conservation 
projects competing for funding. Individuals and groups that are 
selected to receive and that accept funding under the PSGP, will be 
required to submit additional reporting information on project 
performance as well as the financial status of the project proposal. We 
will use this information to ensure that the funding is used 
appropriately and to monitor the effectiveness of the project in 
meeting its stated goals.
    The reporting burden is estimated to average 8 hours per respondent 
for the project proposal and 4 hours per respondent for reporting 
activities. The total annual burden is 4,000 hours for the project 
proposals and 200 hours for reporting activities; the number of 
respondents is estimated to average 500 respondents for submitting 
project proposals and 50 respondents for the reporting requirements. 
The information collected does not carry a premise of confidentiality.
    We invite comments on (1) Whether or not the collection of 
information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of 
the Service, including whether or not the information will have 
practical utility; (2) the accuracy of the estimate of the burden of 
the collection of information, including the validity of the 
methodology and assumptions used; (3) the quality, utility, and clarity 
of the information to be collected; and (4) how to minimize the burden 
of the collection of information on those who are to respond, including 
the use of appropriate automated electronic, mechanical, or other forms 
of information technology. Comments may be submitted to: Attention: 
Desk Officer for the Department of the Interior, Office of Information 
and Regulatory Affairs, Office of Management and Budget, New Executive 
Office Building, Washington, DC 20503. Send a copy to the Information 
Collection Officer, Mail Stop 224 ARLSQ, U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service, Washington, DC 20240. To ensure consideration, comments must 
be received by July 8, 2002.

National Environmental Policy Act

    We have analyzed this draft policy in accordance with the criteria 
of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Department of 
the Interior Manual (516 DM 2 and 6). This draft policy does not 
constitute a major Federal action significantly affecting the quality 
of the human environment. The Service has determined that the issuance 
of the draft policy is categorically excluded under the Department of 
the Interior's NEPA procedures in 516 DM 2, Appendix 1 and 516 DM 6, 
Appendix 1. The Service will ensure that projects that are funded 
through the PSGP are in compliance with NEPA.

Government-to-Government Relationship With Tribes

    In accordance with the President's memorandum of April 29, 1994, 
``Government-to-Government Relations With Native American Tribal 
Governments'' (59 FR 22951), E.O. 13175, and the Department of the 
Interior's manual at 512 DM 2, we readily acknowledge our 
responsibility to communicate meaningfully with federally recognized 
Tribes on a government-to-government basis. The effect of this draft 
policy document on Native American Tribes would be determined on a 
case-by-case basis with the individual evaluation of project proposals. 
Under Secretarial Order 3206, the Service will, at a minimum, share 
with the tribes any information concerning project proposals that may 
affect Tribal trust resources. After consultation with the Tribes and 
the project proponent, and after careful consideration of the Tribe's 
concerns, the Service must clearly state the rationale for the 
recommended final decision and explain how the decision relates to the 
Service's trust responsibility. Accordingly:
    a. We have not yet consulted with the affected Tribe(s). This 
requirement will be addressed with individual evaluations of project 
    b. We have not yet treated Tribes on a government-to-government 
basis. This requirement will be addressed with individual evaluations 
of project proposals.
    c. We will consider Tribal views in individual evaluations of 
project proposals.
    d. We have not yet consulted with the appropriate bureaus and 
offices of the Department about the identified effects of this draft 
policy on Tribes. This requirement will be addressed with individual 
evaluations of project proposals.


    This notice is published under the authority of the Department of 
the Interior and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2002, H.R. 2217/
Public Law 107-63.

    Dated: May 31, 2002.
Craig Manson,
Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks.
[FR Doc. 02-14338 Filed 6-6-02; 8:45 am]