White-Nose Syndrome Research Grants Fiscal Year 2018 Notice of Funding Opportunity

General Information

*Application Date: 20 April 2018 through 30 September 2018

Funding Agencies: Department of the Interior, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), Ecological Services and Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program (WSFR)
Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number: 15.657
OMB Control Number: 018-019 (Expires: 11/30/2018)
Program Funding: $35,000 up to $300,000
Funding Period: 24 months

Opportunity Description

Descripton: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) is pleased to announce the availability of research funding in 2018 to investigate issues related directly to the management of white-nose syndrome (WNS). The WNS Program provides financial and technical assistance to non-governmental, university, and private researchers, as well as state and local governments, Native American tribes, and federal agencies, for the management of WNS and conservation of bats. Funded projects will investigate priority questions about WNS to improve our ability to manage the disease and implement management actions that will help to conserve affected bat species.

As of April 5, 2018, WNS has been confirmed in bats in 32 states and five Canadian provinces and the causative fungus Pseudogymnoascus destructans (Pd) has been detected in two additional states without confirmation of the disease. At least 15 North American and 21 Eurasian species of bats have been confirmed with WNS or detected carrying Pd. Surveys in affected areas continue to reveal population declines associated with the disease at most contaminated sites in North America. For information on WNS and previously funded projects, please see: whitenosesyndrome.org

Funding through WNS Research Grants provides critical information and resources for maximizing the benefits of conservation efforts for bats. These actions are focused on minimizing the impacts of WNS and compounding stressors on already listed species, prioritizing actions to conserve species that may be assessed for listing due to the impacts of WNS, and understanding how different species are likely to respond when exposed to the pathogen. Although WNS has decimated several species of bats in eastern North America, efforts taken with support of funding from the Service’s WNS program has allowed the management community to focus efforts where there is the greatest need and benefit. In this way, these grants will support the priorities of the Department of the Interior to create a conservation stewardship legacy second only to Teddy Roosevelt, restore trust with local communities, and strike a regulatory balance.

The programs create a conservation stewardship legacy by helping to stem the decline of bat species in the face of WNS through funding research and monitoring efforts that improve understanding and treatment of the disease. By supporting scientific research to better understand the disease and the species affected by it, WNS Grants to States and Research grants utilize science to identify best practices to manage wildlife resources and to foster relationships with other agencies and conservation organizations. These programs complement a third, the Bats for the Future Fund, initiated in 2017 and implemented in partnership with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and others, which expands public and private partnerships to develop and
implement management solutions such as treatments for WNS while fostering innovation and action.

The programs both help restore trust with local communities. The WNS Grants to States are awarded only to State Wildlife or Natural Resource Agencies, directly helping with expanding the lines of communication with State Fish and Wildlife and Natural Resources offices. In some cases, WNS Grants to States provide the sole monetary means for states to engage in management efforts to prepare for and respond to WNS. In addition, information needs identified by state agencies determine priorities for WNS Research funding. Those agencies are partners in the majority of WNS Research proposals funded to date and are expected to be in the future as well. Agencies themselves are eligible grantees under the WNS Research Grant Program, and research funds were awarded to two state wildlife agencies last year.

WNS has been confirmed in three federally listed bat species (Indiana bat, gray bat, and northern long-eared bat) and currently poses a potential risk to two additional listed bats (the Virginia big eared bat and the Ozark big-eared bat). The northern long-eared bat was listed as Threatened primarily due to the impacts of WNS, and concern over population declines resulting from WNS led the Service to schedule status assessments for two additional bat species: little brown bat and tricolored bat. The work funded through the WNS grant programs is expected to reduce the administrative and regulatory burden imposed on U.S. industry and the public by potentially precluding the need to list additional species. In addition, the projects funded will provide information that will ensure that Endangered Species Act decisions are based on strong science and thorough analysis.

The Service has anticipates committing $1.5 million in internally directed funds for this open funding (pending Budget approval), which accompanies three additional anticipated funding opportunities from the Service’s WNS Program in 2018: 1) Bats for the Future Fund (with National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and other partners); 2) WNS Grants to States 2018 program, and 3) WNS Small Grants for Communications and Research on WNS (with Wildlife Management Institute; application period closed 6 December 2017). The WNS Research Grants 2018 opportunity will remain open until 30 September 2018, or earlier if funds are depleted. Contact the Service WNS coordinator in your region for more information (see below).

The Service is authorized to provide this funding as described in the Service’s policy manual chapter on the Endangered Species Act (16 U.S.C. 1531-1544); and the Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act (16 U.S.C. 661-667e).

Award Information

Project funding can range from $35,000 up to $300,000. Funding is available for new projects and to continue or expand ongoing projects. The period of performance will be up to two years and projects must be designed accordingly. Funding will be awarded as grants.

Eligibility Information

Eligible applicants for this competitive grant program include non-governmental organizations, universities, and private researchers, as well as government agencies and Native American tribes. U.S. non-profit, non-governmental organizations with 501(c)(3) Internal Revenue Status (IRS) must provide a copy of their Section 501(c)(3) status determination letter received from the IRS. Applicants must be in good standing on previously awarded Federal grant agreements, with no outstanding reports or obligations, and a record of successful use of funds from previous WNS grants to states awards (if applicable).

To be eligible, proposed projects must clearly address one or more priorities identified by the WNS program, as identified below. Priorities for this funding opportunity are developed to maximize persistence of WNS-affected bat populations, minimize the spread and impacts of Pd, and inform management decisions in preparation for, and in response to WNS. Priorities for funding will remain consistent through the open period of this RFP. However, because knowledge of WNS and treatments for the disease is increasing rapidly, specific research needs are likely to change during the time period this Notice of Funding Opportunity is open.

We recommend applicants contact WNS coordinators in their region (see contacts at the end of this document) to ensure their project addresses current research needs before beginning their application. Projects are considered for funding throughout the year, depending on the availability of funds. (See  Application Review” below.)

Application Process

Page limits for different required sections are identified below. There are no page limits for required forms (Example: SF-424). Proposals submitted with a font size less than 11 points or margins less than 1 inch will not be eligible.

See attachment for application information and further details.