To qualify for A&H funding, a project must improve wildlife habitat, increase public hunting access to private land or solve a wildlife damage issue. Some examples of projects that have been approved and implemented to date include development of wetland habitat, noxious weed control, improving wildlife forage on private lands, developing water in arid regions, riparian fencing, seeding after wildfire, hunting leases, land acquisition, seasonal road management and hunter access through private lands to inaccessible public lands. Projects may be on private or public lands, through preference is given to projects on private lands.
Proposal Review Process
Access & Habitat project applications (or project proposals) are submitted by individual landowners, groups of landowners, conservation organizations, and government agencies. Applications are reviewed by one of the six Regional Advisory Councils, depending on the location of the project. The Regional Council may approve the project as it is proposed, approved a modified version of the proposal, or deny A&H project funding for the project. Unless the project applicant withdraws the project application, all proposals (approved or denied) are then forwarded to the State Board for consideration. The Council’s review comments highlighting project strengths and project concerns are also forwarded to the Board. The Board may approve the project as it is proposed, approve a modified version of the project, or deny project funding. Those projects recommended for funding by the Board are presented to the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission for final consideration. The Commission may approve, modify, or deny any or all of the A&H Board’s funding recommendations. Commission, board and council meetings are public meetings and applicants are welcome to attend.
The authorizing legislation for the Access & Habitat Program provides project review guidance to Regional Advisory Council and Board members. The primary factors of consideration are potential benefits to wildlife habitat and improvement of public hunting access. The Board will pay particular attention to projects which reduce economic loss to landowners and which involve funding commitments from other organizations and agencies. In-kind contributions of labor, equipment and material are also very positive aspects of successful projects.
Once approved by the Commission, a grant agreement is developed between ODFW and the project applicant. The grant agreement is the mechanism that facilitates transfer of Access & Habitat Program funds or goods or services between the Department and the applicant. It outlines the conditions, timelines, and payment schedule of the grant. Attached to the Grant Agreement are a Request for Fund Release Form, the project Statement of Work, a Project Completion Report Form, and a copy of the original project application. Two copies of the Grant Agreement are prepared, with ODFW and the applicant signing both. One copy is retained by the applicant and the other by ODFW. Project implementation can then proceed. The Statement of Work corresponds with the original project application, but provides a brief summary of the tasks to be performed and their associated costs. Advance payment can be made for up to 90% of approved funding, or ODFW reimburses the grantee for project expenses as invoices are received with a completed Request for Fund Release Form, and according to the provisions in the agreement. At the end of the project, the grantee submits a Project Completion Report and the remaining 10% of approved funding is paid to the Grantee.
Project Implementation Consideration
Please keep in mind that project implementation may not begin prior to the signing of a grant agreement! Also, the A&H Board recognizes that circumstances that may warrant a change in project schedule or scope sometime arise. The Board reviews these situations as needed.
Filling Out Your Application
Before filling out an Access & Habitat grant application, project applicants are asked to contact the ODFW Regional Coordinator in the vicinity of the proposed project. The Regional Coordinator will give applicants advice on planning their projects and help maximize their chance of being awarded a grant. Completed applications should be submitted to the Regional Coordinator. The Regional Coordinator will then forward the project application to the corresponding Regional Advisory Council and convene a meeting of the Council to review the project. Project applicants are asked to participate in this meeting in order to respond to any questions the Council members may have, and to know firsthand the Council’s review decisions.