Bayshore-Highlands Fund

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

Initiative Summary

The Open Space Institute’s (OSI) Bayshore Highlands Fund (the “Fund”) supports projects that accelerate strategic land conservation in the New Jersey Bayshore and the Pennsylvania Highlands.  

Capitalized with a grant from the William Penn Foundation, the Fund makes grants and loans to qualified organizations for land acquisition through a competitive process that is guided by an advisory committee comprised of experts with knowledge of planning, natural resources, conservation policy and philanthropy.


Geographic and Agricultural Focus

In both the NJ Bayshore and PA Highlands, the Fund gives preference to projects in defined focus areas. We acknowledge the important work being done in other focus areas that were eligible to apply in earlier rounds:  Cape May, Maurice River Mantua Creek, Oldmans and Raccoon Creeks in the NJ  Bayshore; and Lancaster Agricultural Area, Welsh Mountain, Unami Hills, Northampton Highlands, and South Mountain in the PA Highlands.  However, OSI is not accepting applications in these areas for this funding round.  OSI staff and advisors agreed to target funding into fewer areas to achieve more concentrated impact.

Applications will be accepted for projects only in the following focus areas:

In the NJ Bayshore:  Burden Hill, Cohansey River and Mannington Meadows.

In the PA Highlands, Upper Brandywine Agricultural Region, and the Hopewell Big Woods. 

In prior grant rounds, the Fund provided support for the protection of environmental resources, such as forests, biologically important lands, and trails. The goal of the current grant round is to protect farmland with an emphasis on improving water quality through permanent protection of riparian buffers, forests and wetlands on working farms and encouraging implementation of whole farm conservation plans.

OSI will give preference to projects that have high likelihood of success, demonstrate sufficient resource value and scale, and will accelerate conservation in the focus area, resulting in significant impact.

Within each of the focus regions, GIS mapping and analysis have identified priority preservation areas based on resource quality and connectivity to existing nodes of preserved land. A GIS map package facilitates the creation of maps to identify priority preservation areas, and boundaries for each focus area and can be downloaded at a link supplied in the grant application.

Applicants 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.

Eligibility and Grant Criteria

In this funding round, OSI is accepting only requests for support for the acquisition of fee or permanent easements on agricultural land. To be eligible for funding, all projects must:

  1. Lie within an OSI Focus Area identified above.
  2. Be 30 acres or greater;
  3. Contain 50% or more of Prime or Statewide Important soils; and
  4. Require implementation of whole farm conservation plans as part of an overall conservation strategy to protect water quality on the farm.

 

Eligible Projects will be evaluated against the following criteria:

Preference will be given to projects that:

  • Employ riparian buffer easements that will ensure stewardship of stream corridors, floodplains and wetlands on working farms to protect water quality.

Eligible Projects will be evaluated against the following criteria:

  1. Protect an important 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 agricultural resource area.
  3. Be adjacent to stream corridors; and have the ability to protect watershed resources and water quality.
  4. Demonstrate an urgency and/or timeliness in proceeding, i.e., where there is significant but manageable threat or unique opportunity for proceeding;
  5. 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.
  6. Catalyze, complement or reinforce William Penn Foundation grants to improve land use planning and land management;
  7. Ensure that planned long-term stewardship and management goals for the property can be achieved;
  8. Leverage a minimum of five other matching dollars; and
  9. Be spearheaded by nonprofit organizations with the capacity and financial ability to execute the transaction in a cost-effective manner.

Funding and Awards

OSI will award up to $1.16 million remaining in the Fund for permanent protection of farmland and associated water resources.

Overall, the Fund’s $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.

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 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.  The Fund requires that all nonprofits receiving grants must hold initial title to the project being funded.

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 eligible Match Properties.
  • Transaction costs, including appraisals, environmental assessment, title insurance, recording fees, and survey costs..
  • Fifty percent of the value of a donated conservation easement or bargain sale on the subject property or on eligible Match Properties

 

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

Application Process

Prior to applying, prospective applicants are encouraged to contact Bill Rawlyk, to clarify any questions and to confirm that project meets 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.

Bayshore Highlands grant applications are by invitation only at this time. (11/2014)

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. For GIS assistance please contact Neil Jordan (njordan@osiny.org).

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
Neil Jordan
njordan@osiny.org

 

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