Bayshore-Highlands Fund

French Creek State Park, L.Gledhill Mannington Meadows, NJ PA Bayshore Highlands

Initiative Summary

The Bayshore Highlands Fund (the “Fund”) supports projects that accelerate strategic land conservation in the New Jersey Bayshore and the Pennsylvania Highlands.

The Fund achieves its mission by providing grants and loans for land conservation transactions that conserve wildlife habitat, provide new and expanded outdoor recreational access, protect clean water, or preserve farm and forestland. The Fund also helps to raise visibility for the regions and conservation transactions within them; and research, promote and pilot, where possible, innovative conservation financing tools and practices.

Capitalized with a grant from the William Penn Foundation, the initiative was developed and is administered by the Open Space Conservancy, the land acquisition affiliate of the Open Space Institute (OSI). OSI makes loans and grants to qualified organizations for land acquisition through a competitive process that is guided by an advisory board comprised of experts from both areas and the broader region with knowledge of planning, natural resources, conservation policy and philanthropy.

Mission
The Fund seeks to advance strategic land conservation and innovative approaches to financing conservation in the Bayshore and Highlands. Through its grants and loans, the Fund will provide funding for transactions that protect lands with habitat, farmland, watershed lands and recreation opportunities; build upon and enhance past conservation efforts; help increase new constituencies and funding for conservation; and may model innovative approaches to financing conservation.

Geographic Focus
In both regions, the Fund gives preference to projects in defined focus areas. These areas typically have been identified through prior planning by public and/or nonprofit groups, have received past funding for land protection and thus contain a base of conserved land.  Currently, based on scoping for Round 4, we are accepting applications in a certain subset of our focus areas for projects that have high likelihood of success demonstrate sufficient resource value, scale, and strong ability to accelerate conservation in the focus area resulting in significant impact in that area.

In the NJ Bayshore, applications will be accepted for projects in the following focus areas: Cape May, Cohansey River and Mannington Meadows.

In the PA Highlands, applications will be accepted for projects in the following focus areas: Upper Brandywine Agricultural Region, Hopewell Big Woods, Oley Hills and Northampton Highlands.

We acknowledge the important work being done in other focus areas that were identified in earlier rounds: Maurice River Mantua Creek, Oldmans and Raccoon Creeks and Burden Hill in the NJ  Bayshore; and Lancaster Agricultural Area, Welsh Mountain, Unami Hills and South Mountain in the PA Highlands which were previously included. However, applications will not be accepted for these areas in Round 4 due to the necessity of targeting funds to have a greater impact.

The primary objective in the majority of focus areas in both the Bayshore and Highlands is the protection of environmental resources such as forests, biological and water resources and recreational trails collectively known as open space.

However, in the Brandywine Agricultural Regions in the PA Highlands, the objective is farmland preservation. In the Northampton Highlands Focus Area in the PA Highlands and the Cohansey River and Mannington Meadows focus areas in the Bayshore, either farmland preservation or open space projects may be submitted.

Within each of these focus regions, GIS mapping and analysis has identified priority preservation areas based on resource quality and connectivity to existing nodes of preserved land.

A GIS map package allowing creation of maps to identify our priority preservation areas and boundaries for each focus area can be downloaded at a link supplied in the grant application. A text document is also available for download at the same location that explains how these priority areas were derived and which GIS layers were used for analysis. You may also submit a shapefile and have OSI produce a map showing its location and relationship to focus areas.

Applications should fall within priority preservation areas. However, if a project falls outside, applicants can provide information to support its resource quality and connectivity, and final eligibility will be determined based on review of this information.

A GIS map package allowing creation of maps to identify our priority preservation areas and boundaries for each focus area can be downloaded at a link supplied in the grant application. A text document is also available for download at the same location that explains how these priority areas were derived and which GIS layers were used for analysis. You may also submit a shapefile and have OSI produce a map showing its location and relationship to focus areas.

Land Protection Grant Criteria
Funding Criteria: To be eligible for funding, your project will need to:

  1. Protect an important ecological, recreational and/or agricultural resource, as identified in plans conducted by public and/or nonprofit agencies;
  2. Enlarge, build upon or connect existing preserved land, public or private within a documented, regionally important ecological, agricultural or recreational resource area or watershed;
  3. Demonstrate an urgency and/or timeliness in proceeding, i.e., where there is significant but manageable threat or unique opportunity for proceeding;
  4. Increase or diversify constituencies and funding for conservation, including: (1) piloting new forms of funding; (2) advancing promising models/practices of conservation    finance; (3) demonstrating ways to link conservation and community economic sustainability, e.g., agricultural viability, diversification of agricultural operations, ecotourism, increased water quality and quantity, and creating/retaining recreation-related jobs and revenues, etc.
  5. Catalyze, complement or reinforce William Penn Foundation grants to improve land use planning and land management;
  6. Ensure that planned long-term stewardship and management goals for the property can be achieved;
  7. Leverage a minimum of five other matching dollars, including landowner donations and private fundraising or federal, state, municipal or county funds and the value of nearby conserved land, for every dollar invested by the Fund. It is the goal of the Fund to meet the 5:1 minimum match ratio on all transactions.
  8. Be spearheaded by nonprofit organizations with the capacity and financial ability to execute the transaction in a cost-effective manner.

 

Project Eligibility

Open Space Projects must:

  • Be at least 30 acres in size.

Preference shall be given to projects that:

  • Are directly contiguous with existing preserved land, including farms or preserves;
  • Are located on stream or trail corridors, or have exceptional resources such as high number of State and federally listed wildlife species, Natural Heritage priority sites or rare plant locations. Applicants are responsible for providing adequate mapping and/or documentation of these resources with the application;
  • Employ creative financing or demonstrate greater match;
  • Achieve significant scale, either by themselves or in conjunction with nearby conserved lands.

Farmland Preservation Projects must:

  • Be at least 30 acres in size;
  • Contain 50% or more of Prime or Statewide Important soils;
  • Include a legal mechanism to ensure permanent stewardship of stream corridors to manage; and minimize nutrients, pesticides and sediment runoff to streams.

 

Preference shall be given to projects that:

  • Are directly contiguous with existing preserved land, including farms or preserves;
  • Adjoin stream corridors or tidal water;
  • Employ creative financing or demonstrate greater match;
  • Achieve significant scale, either by themselves or in conjunction with nearby conserved lands.

 

Funding and Awards

OSI will award  $1.9 million remaining in the Fund in capital land protection grants on a competitive basis to qualified organizations for projects that accelerate conservation of ecologically significant wildlife habitat, farmland, water resources, trails and recreational access opportunities; build upon and enhance past conservation efforts; help increase new constituencies and funding for conservation; and may model innovative approaches to financing conservation.

Out of the original $5 million in the Fund, a minimum of $1.5 million will be awarded to projects in each state, with the remaining funds to be granted to conservation transactions of the greatest need and opportunity within the two regions.

This $5 million is intended to leverage another $25 million in other public and private financial support secured by the applicants to help implement projects. Projects are reviewed by a regional advisory committee that recommends grants and loans for approval to OSI. Grant awards are typically between $50,000 and $200,000 but can be larger based on quality of the project submitted.

The Fund may also make available short-term low-interest loans to bridge gaps in public or private funding.

Outcomes

The Fund's investment in selected land conservation projects will achieve one or more of the following:

  • Protect ecologically significant habitat by creating or expanding parks and wildlife preserves
  • Protect key watershed lands
  • Conserve working farms
  • Create and expand greenways and trails

 

Through funded transactions, the Fund seeks to:

  • Promote the connection between land conservation and regional livability
  • Enhance conservation connectivity by supporting, in a limited number of places, transactions that are contiguous and/or adjacent to one another or existing conserved parcels
  • Strengthen or develop new constituencies and partnerships for conservation
  • Pilot, where possible, innovative funding mechanisms
  • Attract new funding to both regions
  • Catalyze other land conservation projects

 

Permitted Use of Grant Funds

Grants may be used to acquire permanent conservation easements and fee interest in land. These grant funds are not to be used for endowments, stewardship costs, staff time or other non-capital project expenses.

Grants are available on a competitive basis to qualified nonprofit organizations. Grants may also be applied to cover transactional costs, including cost of appraisals, surveys, title, and environmental assessments. Up to 2% of the total project cost may be used to cover non-staff legal costs. Though the Fund will not provide direct grants to public agencies, nonprofit groups that are eligible for funding are encouraged to work in partnership with public agencies on transactions.

Match Requirements
A fundamental goal of the Bayshore-Highlands Fund is for applicants to secure matching dollars through existing or new sources of funding. Every Bayshore-Highlands Fund dollar granted must be matched by 5 other dollars from other sources. This means that we will seek to fund up to 1/6 (or 16.66%) of the total project cost. The program is highly competitive and will seek to maximize outside match and leverage so the 5/1 match ratio is a minimum. The program encourages use of new and creative funding tools.

The following can count as match for the current project:

  • Public funds (federal, state and local) and private funds from individuals and foundations used for the acquisition of fee interest or a conservation easement on the subject property or on lands that are within the project area.
  • Transaction/soft costs, including appraisals, environmental assessment, title insurance, recording fees, and survey costs that are not reimbursed by another source.
  • Fifty percent of the value of a donated conservation easement or bargain sale on the subject property or on eligible Match Properties defined as:  lands that are within the same focus area that the applicant has played a role in conserving in the past 18 months.

The following do not qualify as matching funds:

  • Ecological or land restoration dollars
  • Stewardship endowments and land management expenses
  • Staff time, travel or expenses

 

Match Property Eligibility
To be eligible as match, property must 1) be adjacent or proximate to the subject property, 2) meet the Fund’s criteria, 3) generally be part of a larger plan to conserve the subject property, and 4) close prior to the closing of the subject property but not more than one year before date of application. 5) Must not have received a Bayshore-Highlands grant for its protection. In addition, to determine eligibility of match parcels OSI will consider whether the match and the subject properties lie in the same Bayshore-Highlands Fund Focus Area.


Timing and Completeness of Projects

Projects must be well-defined and applicants must demonstrate a high likelihood of success. Specifically, projects with completed appraisals and signed contract agreements will be given preference. Projects must close no later than 18 months of OSI Board approval. Projects which close before the application deadline are not eligible for funding.

Submission of Supporting Documents

If a grant is approved, the applicant will be provided with a grant checklist of items required to process the grant agreement, including updated versions of supporting documents prior to project closing and disbursement of the grant.

To minimize duplication, please submit documents only once unless they are updated prior to signing the grant agreement. When all required documents are received, OSI will forward a grant agreement to the grantee. For phased transactions, the grantee must provide documents pertaining to each phase.

Application Process

Prior to applying, prospective applicants are encouraged to contact Bill Rawlyk, to clarify any questions and to confirm that projects meet eligibility requirements. If the project is eligible, applicants will be provided with access to OSI’s online grant system.

The application must be submitted online and you can find it here.

Applications will be due by 5 pm, Friday, October 18, 2013. OSI staff and Advisory Committee (see list) will review completed applications in November. Projects recommended by the Advisory Committee will be reviewed by OSC Board at its December 11, 2013 meeting. Grant awards will be announced shortly thereafter.

Download a PDF copy of the application here.

All applications must be submitted through our online service. For questions regarding the program and application process, please see contacts

Download Map Package here.

Instructions:

  1. Download and save the Map Package to a known folder on your computer that is easily accessible.
  2. After the file is saved, open the folder and click on the Map Package (the .mpk file). Note: You cannot access this file through ArcMap so it is not necessary to open the program.  ArcMap will open automatically when you click on the file.
  3. Once the Map Package opens, it will look like a regular .mxd file.  You will be able to access all the data and manipulate the symbology. 
  4. Save the map as an .mxd file

Please Note: If you are running ArcMap 9.3 or an earlier version you will not be able to open the Map Package. Please contact Gillian and we will work to get you what you need.

Download text document explaining sources of map-layers here.

Contacts

For questions regarding the program and application process, please contact:

Bill Rawlyk, Middle Atlantic Field Coordinator
Open Space Institute
62 Hampton Road
Pittstown, NJ 08867
Office - 908-628-4299
Cell – 908-642-4747
brawlyk@osiny.org

General Information & Application Help
Yasemin Unal-Rodriguez
yunal-rodriguez@osiny.org
212-290-8200 x 311

GIS assistance
Gillian Mollod
gmollod@osiny.org

 

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