Acres for America is National Fish and Wildlife Foundation's premiere land conservation program, and was established to provide urgently needed funding for projects that conserve large, landscape-level areas that are important habitat for fish, wildlife, and plants through acquisition of interest in real property.
Acres for America was launched in 2005 with Walmart Stores, Inc. (www.walmart.com) as the founding partner. Walmart's goal as a founding partner is to offset the footprint of their domestic facilities on at least an acre by acre basis through permanent conservation of important wildlife habitats.
Applicants are strongly urged to contact the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation regional director in their area to discuss project ideas prior to submitting preproposals.
Approximately $2.5 million will be available annually through 2014 for conservation investments.
To be considered for funding through the Acres for America Program, acquisitions of interest in real property should meet the following criteria:
•Endorsement by appropriate federal, state, and local government agencies that the acquisition is of high conservation value is a primary consideration. Preference will be given to acquisitions that are part of published conservation plans (North American Waterfowl Management Plan, Partners in Flight, etc.), State Wildlife Action Plans, or Endangered Species Act Recovery Plans. Natural Heritage rankings for key species present on the site are an important consideration when available. Letters of support from the agencies and organizations listed above should be available for review.
•Endorsement by non-profit conservation organizations that the acquisition is of high conservation value using same criteria as above is also a primary consideration.
•Acquisitions that contribute to "landscape level" conservation efforts that help reduce fragmentation are preferred over isolated acquisitions. Maps should be available to illustrate habitat linkages.
•Important fish, wildlife, and/or plant resources, such as endangered species or areas of significant biological diversity, as identified by credible conservation agencies or organizations, should be conserved through the acquisition. Quantification of resources is important (e.g. 10% of the state's bald eagles nest at the site vs. bald eagles nest at the site.)
•All acquisition documents, including appraisals, title reports, environmental hazard assessments, surveys, and where appropriate, a local attorney's opinion of easement viability, as well as other appropriate documents, must be available for National Fish and Wildlife Foundation staff review as part of the application process. For more specific information regarding funding for an acquisition of interest in real property, see the Applicant Guidance FAQ.
•The fee transfer or perpetual easement must qualify for "conservation purposes" as defined by Internal Revenue Code Section 170(h), which generally includes the following: the preservation of land areas for outdoor recreation by, or the education of, the general public; the protection of relatively natural habitats of fish, wildlife, or plants, or similar ecosystems; the preservation of open space – including farmland and forest land – for scenic enjoyment or pursuant to an adopted governmental conservation policy; in either case, such open space preservation must yield a significant public benefit; the preservation of historically important land areas or buildings.
•Access to the land by the public is preferred but not required. It must be clearly stated in the grant application what uses are allowed or not allowed (hunting, nature observation, ATV use, camping, etc.).
•Debt retirement on acquisition projects is not preferred.
•Final disposition of land, including ownership, must be clearly stated. If the federal government is to receive land, additional review by NFWF may be necessary.
•Applicants should be able to secure letters of support from appropriate Congressional representatives for acquisition of interest in a real property.
The Foundation's regional directors can provide additional guidance on National Fish and Wildlife Foundation habitat priorities in your area.
All grant awards require a minimum 1:1 match of cash or contributed goods and services. Federal funds may be considered as match. Higher ratios of matching funds will at times aid in making applications more competitive.
All applications to the Acres for America Program will be made through a two-stage process, which includes a pre- and then a full-proposal.
The annual pre-proposal deadline is June 3. If this date falls on a weekend, applicants have until COB the following Monday to submit their application. Only electronic preproposals submitted through Easygrants will be considered. When provided the opportunity, select "Apply for Funding"; and scroll down to Walmart's Acres for America and select this option. Please check this website frequently for updates and changes.
Following a review period of about four weeks, appropriate preproposals will be selected and applicants will be invited to submit full proposals. The deadline for full proposals is August 1. Following a review of about four months, final funding decisions will be made by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation's Board of Directors. The entire application process, from the time a preproposal is submitted until a final decision is made is approximately six months.
The grant agreement requires a systematic evaluation to ensure that the expected results do occur. The intent of this evaluation is to help you and the Foundation improve our capacity at being good conservation stewards of the environment and to share these scientifically credible results to further the public interest.