Highlands Conservation Program
To conserve priority lands and natural resources and recognize the importance of the water, forest, agricultural, wildlife, recreational, and cultural resources, and the national significance of the Highlands region of the United States. Preserve and protect high-priority conservation land in the Highland regions.
Last Known Status
Agency: Department of the Interior
Office: Fish and Wildlife Service
Types of Assistance
Project Grants (Discretionary)
Uses and Use Restrictions
A state or state agency with authority to own and manage land located within the Highlands region may use a land conservation partnership project to acquire conservation-valued land, either through fee acquisition or conservation easement, from a willing seller to permanently protect, conserve, or preserve land. Project lands of conservation value are identified by the U.S. Forest Service, Department of Agriculture, with input from pertinent units of local government and the public. The list of lands of conservation value is provided to the governors of the states within the Highlands region. The list of projects to be funded is submitted to the Secretary of the Interior, who, along with the Secretary of Agriculture, submits the eligible project list to Congress. The Federal grant share of the land conservation partnership project will not exceed 50 percent of the total cost of partnership to acquire conservation-valued land. ALL.
H.R. 1964, 2004; 16 U.S.C. 3901.
Any state or state agency with authority to own and manage land located within the Highlands region for conservation purposes may apply by identifying the source of non-Federal funds, describing the management objectives for the project land, identifying the purpose of the use of the land, and providing that the land will not be converted, used or disposed of for a purpose inconsistent with land conservation.
Beneficiaries are states or state agencies with authority to own and manage land within the Highlands region for conservation purposes, including the Palisades Interstate Park Commission.
Must be a state or or state agency with the authority to own and manage land within the Highlands region for conservation purposes. 2 CFR 200, Subpart E - Cost Principles applies to this program.
Application and Award Process
The U.S. Forest Service, Department of Agriculture, is responsible for conducting the resource assessment and preparing the Highlands project lands of conservation value update for the states involved. The U.S. Forest Service will identify in the update the lands that have high conservation value. Environmental impact information is not required for this program. This program is excluded from coverage under E.O. 12372.
2 CFR 200, Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards applies to this program. It is the responsibility of the Highland states to submit projects to the Department of the Interior for funding. The Highland states may do this individually or they may jointly submit land conservation partnership projects.
The U.S. Forest Service is responsible for doing the resource assessment and preparing the priority land update for the states involved. The U.S. Forest Service will identify in the update the lands that have high conservation value. Only lands available from willing sellers will be considered in the program. The Department of the Interior (DOI) has the sole responsibility for project grants. The states will apply directly to DOI for project funding. The DOI will award grants to the States or their entities for the acquisition of land, or interests in land, for conservation purposes in the Highlands.
Range of Approval/Disapproval Time
Formula and Matching Requirements
Statutory formulas are not applicable to this program.
Matching Requirements: The Federal share of the project cost shall not exceed 50 percent of the total project cost.
MOE requirements are not applicable to this program.
Length and Time Phasing of Assistance
Length and Time Phasing of Assistance:
Varies. See the following for information on how assistance is awarded/released: Funds are disbursed to recipients as requested and in accordance with the payment methods prescribed in 43 CFR Part 12, or as otherwise prescribed in program-specific legislation.
Post Assistance Requirements
Program reports are not applicable. Cash reports are not applicable. Interim performance reports are required for each grant award annually within 30 days after the anniversary date. A final performance report is due within 90 days after the award end date. SF-425, Federal Financial Reports are required for each grant award annually within 30 days after the anniversary date. A final SF-425, Federal Financial Report is due within 90 days after the award end date. Recipients are responsible for monitoring and reporting performance each award and sub-award under this program in accordance with 43 CFR Part 12 and 2 CFR Part 170.
In accordance with the provisions of 2 CFR 200, Subpart F - Audit Requirements, non-Federal entities that expend financial assistance of $750,000 or more in Federal awards will have a single or a program-specific audit conducted for that year. Non-Federal entities that expend less than $750,000 a year in Federal awards are exempt from Federal audit requirements for that year, except as noted in 2 CFR 200.503.
Cost records must be maintained separately for each grant award. Records, accounts, and supporting documents must be retained for three years after submission of the final reports.
Fiscal Year 2014: No funding was allocated to the Highlands Conservation Act by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in FY14. Fiscal Year 2015: The program anticipates receiving 4 applications (one from each State in the Highlands Region) and issuing 4 awards, with funding distributed among those awards based on a competitive process. Fiscal Year 2016: The Highlands Conservation Act is not currently authorized for FY16.
(Project Grants (Discretionary)) FY 14 $3,598,640; FY 15 est $3,000,000; and FY 16 est $0 - PROJECT GRANTS (Discretionary): FY14 $3,598,640; FY15 $3,000,000; FY16 $0
The FY15 CR Omnibus provided $3,000,000 for Highlands Conservation Act grants. The Act itself was authorized only through FY14 and is currently being considered for reauthorization. Funding reported for FY14 is from previous fiscal years that has been obligated but not expended.
Range and Average of Financial Assistance
Range : $646,600 to $1,940,000; Average $970,000.
Regulations, Guidelines and Literature
Per http://www.doi.gov/parnlTermsandConditions.htrnl, acceptance of a Federal Financial award from the Department of the Interior carries with it the responsibility to be aware of and comply with the terms and conditions of the award. Acceptance is defined as starting work, drawing down funds, or accepting the award via electronic means. Awards are based on the application submitted to, and as approved by the Department of the Interior and are subject to the terms and conditions incorporated in to the Award either directly or by reference to the following: Program legislation/regulation, assurances, special conditions, the Code of Federal Regulations, and other regulatory requirements, as applicable.
Regional or Local Office
John Organ US Fish and Wildlife Service, Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration, 300 Westgate Center Drive, , Hadley, Massachusetts 01035 Email: John_Organ@fws.gov
Phone: (413)253-8200 Fax: (413)253-8300
Examples of Funded Projects
Fiscal Year 2014: No funding was allocated to the Highlands Conservation Act by the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service in FY14. Fiscal Year 2015: Program has not yet selected projects for funding. Program anticipates funding State land acquisition projects that protect land of high conservation value in the Highlands regions of Connecticut, Pennsylvania, New York, and New Jersey. Fiscal Year 2016: The Highlands Conservation Act is not currently authorized for FY16.
Criteria for Selecting Proposals
The U.S. Forest Service is responsible for completing the resource assessment and preparing the priority lands update for the states involved. The U.S. Forest Service will identify in the update the lands that have high conservation value. The Highland states meet annually and apply directly to DOI for funding from the project list of lands provided by U.S. Forest Service. Only lands with high conservation value that can be obtained by fee acquisition or conservation easement from willing sellers will be considered.