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U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Office of Research and Development
National Center for Environmental Research
Science to Achieve Results (STAR) Program
CLOSED - FOR REFERENCES PURPOSES ONLY
Ecological Indicators for the Great Rivers of the Central Basin
Opening Date: May 7, 2002
Closing Date: October 15, 2002
STAR Forms and Instructions (http://www.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/forms/index.html)
View NCER Research Capsules (http://www.epa.gov/ncer/publications/topical/)
View NCER research awarded under previous solicitations (http://cfpub.epa.gov/ncer_abstracts/index.cfm/fuseaction/research.search/rpt/abs/type/3)
SUMMARY OF PROGRAM REQUIREMENTS
Program Title: Ecological Indicators for the Great Rivers of the Central Basin
Synopsis of Program:
In this announcement the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Office of Research and Development (ORD), solicits grant applications to establish one Great Rivers Ecological Indicator Research Program. The goal of the program is to support research for the development of biological indicators to report on the status and trends of large river systems. The geographic focus of this solicitation is the Central Basin of the United States; the rivers of interest being the Mississippi, Missouri, and Ohio. The need is for biological indicators that capture the physical and ecological variability of the region. The environmental issues and impacts for the aquatic system not only cross many scales but also strongly interact across ecological, economic, and social realms. Thus, EPA is also interested in developing indicators which can capture and report on the interactions between the ecological health of the streams and their regional economies, such that we can measure progress towards ecological and economic sustainability.
Applicable Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number(s): 66.500
See full announcement for eligibility information
Anticipated Type of Award: Grant
Estimated Number of Awards: 1
Anticipated Funding Amount: $6 million
Potential Funding per Grant per Year: Up to $1.5 M per year for a total of up to 4 years
The sorting code for applications submitted in response to this solicitation is
Letter of Intent Due Date(s): None
Application Proposal Due Date(s): October 15, 2002
In this announcement the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Office of Research and Development (ORD), solicits grant applications to establish one Great Rivers Ecological Indicator Research Program. The EPA wants to enable a defensible ecological assessment of great rivers of the Central Basin of the United States. For the purpose of this solicitation GREAT RIVERS are defined as the Mississippi, Missouri, and Ohio Rivers. These systems are dynamic, large (and thus have a variety of scales of response), unique, and each have a history of regulation and management. They are vulnerable to stressors not only in the local sense but more broadly, because they receive and integrate flows from major drainage basins.
There is a current lack of fully developed indicators to report
on the status and trends of river systems, even though progress
is apparent for specific cases. First, biological indicators
that can serve broadly, and in the face of the recognized physical
and ecological variability are needed. Importantly, we also
recognize that systems exist fully embedded in a regional (i.e.,
mid-continental) drainage basin context. Inherently, the
environmental issues and impacts for the aquatic system not only
cross many scales but also strongly interact across ecological,
economic, and social realms. So, we also need consideration
of indicators that can capture and report these interactions, as
they affect the integrity and sustainability of the rivers health.
This Great Rivers Indicator Program is part of a larger program known as the Estuarine and Great Lakes (EaGLe) program. The goal of the EaGLe program is to develop a suite of new, integrative indicators of ecological condition, integrity, and/or sustainability for coastal systems including the Great Lakes. A total of five awards for the EaGLe program were made in 2001 and 2002. For more information see: http://www.epa.gov/ncer/centers/eagles/ Because the focus of the Great Rivers Indicator Program will be on great rivers rather than the coastal environment, the new program will be referred to as the River-EaGLe or R-EaGLe.
The EaGLe and R-EaGLe programs complement EPA's Environmental Monitoring and Assessment Program (EMAP) http://www.epa.gov/emap/index.html. In 2001, EMAP published a report card of the condition of the coastal estuaries. The current EaGLes are developing the next generation of environmental indicators for use in future coastal assessments. It is anticipated that in 2003, EMAP will begin a comprehensive monitoring program to assess the condition of the large rivers of the Central Basin of the United States. This R-EaGLe solicitation will support this effort by developing the next generation of ecological indicators for future large river assessments. Intercomparisons of the R-EaGLe with the coastal EaGLes, are encouraged, as applicable. In addition, this solicitation is intended to complement ecological research programs in EPA Laboratories and is consistent with their goals and objectives. This solicitation is also supportive of the EPA Office of Waters objectives for State/Tribal water quality monitoring and standards program.
EPA is particularly interested in developing indicators to report on the status and trends of large river systems and testing their applicability across scales and across regions. For example, will a set of indicators be applicable in large and small rivers as well as wadeable streams? Can these indicators be used to predict effects in other parts of the system? Can an indicator developed for the upper Missouri River provide information about hypoxia in the Gulf of Mexico? Are there indicators in the lower Missouri, which is controlled by navigational requirements, that can predict loss of habitat for endangered species in the upper Missouri? Are there indicators in the Central Basin that are also valid in an estuarine ecosystem?
It is intended that the research of the R-EaGLe be representative of :
(a) various levels and kinds of human impacts to the Greater Mississippi
(b) the major biogeographical provinces associated with the Mississippi River and its major tributaries;
(c) important habitats occurring in and along the Mississippi, Missouri, and Ohio Rivers; and
(d) linkages between changes in indicators and regional economic and social outcomes.
On this last point, EPA is interested in developing indicators that can capture and report on the interactions between the ecological health of the streams and their regional economies, such that we can measure progress towards ecological and economic sustainability. When regional ecosystems are damaged and resources depleted, the economic productivity of an area can be significantly impacted (e.g., the extent to which the fish and shellfish industry in the Gulf of Mexico and lower Mississippi may be affected by anoxic conditions.) Economic productivity refers to a systems ability to provide products that people want and need, such as food, housing, and transportation. There are a number of commonly used economic indicators of the overall productivity of a national or regional economy, such as housing starts, sales, employment, and durable goods orders. The ability of a regional economy to sustain a livelihood for its population is also linked to its ability to provide resources, such as water, fish or crops, on an ongoing basis. As an example, a number of attempts, generally termed green accounting, have been made to incorporate environmental factors into economic accounts such as the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to provide a better measure of ecological costs. In fact, the World Bank has a major effort to promote practical green accounting see: World Bank Green Accounting. However, green accounts have not been established on a regional scale with indicators that directly link economic conditions to underlying ecological conditions.
Objectives: The focus of the research is on the Mississippi, Missouri and Ohio Rivers considering their context within the larger Central Basin, and with intercomparisons to other rivers in the Mississippi basin and the coastal EaGLes, as applicable.
The application must address one or more of the following objectives:
1. Develop indicators and/or procedures useful for evaluating the health or condition of important natural resources (e.g., wetlands, spawning areas, refuges) at multiple scales, ranging from individual communities to stream segments to entire biogeographical regions. It is important that the environmental changes measured have some definable link to economic well-being in the region of interest. The objective is to identify indicators/indices that inform environmental managers and economic development officials of changes in the health or condition of the natural resource of interest that may affect local economies.GUIDELINES FOR THE R-EaGLe:
2. Develop indicators, indices, and/or procedures useful for evaluating the integrated condition of multiple resource/ecosystem types within a defined watershed, drainage basin, or larger biogeographical region of the U.S. For example, a team might create a bird community index that reflects the combined condition of aquatic and terrestrial communities in the watershed on which the birds depend. Such an index could serve as a useful measure of overall watershed condition because it combines multiple resource types. The objective is to identify indicators/indices that inform environmental managers of changes in the health or condition of the system/region of interest.
3. Develop qualitative and quantitative indices of landscape attributes (e.g., water quality and habitat suitability) that can be linked with hydrologic, ecological, or socio-economic models to predict changes in environmental endpoints. The key objective is to develop indicators of degradation or improvement in resource types, systems, or larger biogeographical regions that enable environmental managers to understand the probable consequences of changes in measurable landscape attributes.
4. Develop nested suites of indicators that can both quantify the health or condition of a resource or system and identify its primary stressors at local and regional scales. For example, there is an ongoing controversy over flow management for reservoirs in the upper Missouri mainstem. Should the releases be varied, so as to provide naturalistic high and low flow regimes for the benefit of endangered species, or uniform, to serve the needs of navigation and flood-plain farming? Indices would need to include the status of endangered bird and fish species and their associated habitats, peoples direct or indirect enjoyment of those ecological goods, river and reservoir recreation, as well as the economic feasibility of navigation, hydropower, river-cooled fossil power, and farming. The objective is to provide suites of diagnostic indicators that will not only provide environmental managers with a measure of the condition of a resource at multiple scales, but also provide the likely cause of any poor conditions that might be observed.
5. Develop integrated indicators of ecological and economic sustainability. The objective is to understand the linkages between ecology and the economy so that we accurately measure the integrated effects of the nations environmental policies. These must be understandable to the public.
1. We strongly encourage multidisciplinary teams, including economists, that will result in interdisciplinary research approaches. We also encourage several institutions to come together to form a consortium. This will allow for broader geographic and disciplinary coverage within the Central Basin for intercomparisons.
2. All applications must include a description of current monitoring at the proposed sites and any proposed additional monitoring activity. Description and acknowledgment of ongoing programs/collaborations with the Army Corps of Engineers and/or the U.S. Geological Survey must be included. The individual project leaders participating in the R-EaGLe program must demonstrate willingness to take advantage of existing or future monitoring data bases and programs as they become available. All applications must include a description of ongoing monitoring at the proposed sites and any proposed additional monitoring activity.
3. The R-EaGLe Program must be led by an overall Director who will provide oversight, coordination, and integration of the R-EaGLe's activities.
4. Each application will consist of a project supporting the direction and administration of the R-EaGLe plus individual projects that are integrated into the overall goals of the R-EaGLe (i.e., these cannot be independent, stand-alone projects, but must relate to each other substantively).
5. The application must contain specific plans on how the project will coordinate with States and Tribes in the development of indicators that would be useful for State and Tribal water quality and other environmental protection programs. The application should also explain how products, information, results, and findings will be disseminated to stakeholders, including States and Tribes.
6. Each application must clearly identify the process for identifying, developing, evaluating, and assessing uncertainty and for establishing the linkage between the environmental value at risk, the assessment endpoint, and the proposed indicator. An assessment endpoint is a valued attribute of an ecosystem on which one wishes to make a decision. Refer to Guidelines for Ecological Risk Assessment (http://www.epa.gov/ncea/ecolrskg.htm) for additional information on EPA's approach to ecological risk assessment and to the Guidelines for Ecological Indicators (http://www.epa.gov/emap/html/pubs/docs/resdocs/ecol_ind.pdf) for information on the technical evaluation of ecological indicators.
7. The application must contain specific plans for making data and research results available. The R-EaGLe must follow the data policy of EMAP http://www.epa.gov/emap/. Research results must be published in the refereed literature.
8. The R-EaGLe will be responsible for organizing an annual joint workshop/review with the other EaGLes to highlight research and discuss research issues as they arise. This responsibility will be rotated annually among the EaGLes. Adequate travel funds must be budgeted for these reviews. The R-EaGLe must also provide additional mechanisms for interaction and integration with the other EaGLes. As the research matures the Director will be expected to identify assessment endpoints that are common to all geographical areas within the scope of this project, as well as some across the EaGLes.
Support for this award is contingent upon the availability of funds
for this purpose. It is anticipated that a total of $1.5 million,
including direct and indirect costs, will be available to fund the
R-EaGLe during the first year and a comparable amount for 3 additional
years. Proposals exceeding $6 M, including direct and indirect
costs, over the four years will be returned without review.
Academic and not-for-profit institutions located in the U.S., and state or local governments, are eligible under all existing authorizations. Profit-making firms are not eligible to receive grants from EPA under this program. Federal agencies and national laboratories funded by federal agencies (Federally-funded Research and Development Centers, FFRDCs) may not apply.
Federal employees are not eligible to serve in a principal leadership role on a grant. FFRDC employees may cooperate or collaborate with eligible applicants within the limits imposed by applicable legislation and regulations. They may participate in planning, conducting, and analyzing the research directed by the principal investigator, but may not direct projects on behalf of the applicant organization or principal investigator. The principal investigator's institution may provide funds through its grant from EPA to a FFRDC for research personnel, supplies, equipment, and other expenses directly related to the research. However, salaries for permanent FFRDC employees may not be provided through this mechanism.
Federal employees may not receive salaries or in other ways augment their agency's appropriations through grants made by this program. However, federal employees may interact with grantees so long as their involvement is not essential to achieving the basic goals of the grant.1 The principal investigator's institution may also enter into an agreement with a federal agency to purchase or utilize unique supplies or services unavailable in the private sector. Examples are purchase of satellite data, census data tapes, chemical reference standards, analyses, or use of instrumentation or other facilities not available elsewhere, etc. A written justification for federal involvement must be included in the application, along with an assurance from the federal agency involved which commits it to supply the specified service.
1EPA encourages interaction between its own laboratory scientists and grant principal investigators for the sole purpose of exchanging information in research areas of common interest that may add value to their respective research activities. However, this interaction must be incidental to achieving the goals of the research under a grant. Interaction that is "incidental" is not reflected in a research proposal and involves no resource commitments.
Potential applicants who are uncertain of their eligibility should contact Jack Puzak in the National Center for Environmental Research (NCER), phone (202) 564-6825, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org .
The standard forms for submitting an application will be found on the NCER web site, http://www.epa.gov/ncer/guidance/. The instructions for completing this application are specified below and supercede any instructions on the NCER web site unless otherwise directed.
At various places within the application, applicants will be asked to identify this topic area by using the Sorting Code. The Sorting Code for this solicitation is 2002-STAR-Q-1.
The Sorting Code must be placed at the top of the abstract (as shown in the abstract format), in Box 10 of Standard Form 424 (as described in the section on SF424), and be included in the address on the package that is sent to EPA (see the section on how to apply).
The initial application is made through the submission of the materials described below. It is essential that the application contain all the information requested and be submitted in the formats described. If an application is considered for award (i.e., after external peer review and internal review), additional forms and other information will be requested by the Project Officer. The original signed copy of the application should not be bound or stapled in any way. Other copies should be stapled or bound with clips.
The Application must include both the R-EaGLe program plan and the individual research projects. The complete application contains the following:
A. Standard Form 424: The applicant must complete Standard Form 424. This form will act as a cover sheet for the application and must be its first page. Instructions for completion of the SF424 are included with the form. The form must contain the original signature of an authorized representative of the applying institution. Please note that both the Principal Investigator (Director) and an administrative contact are to be identified in Section 5 of the SF424.
B. Key Contacts: The applicant must complete the Key Contacts Form as the second page of the submitted application.
C. Table of Contents: Provide a list of the major subdivisions of the application which indicates the page number on which each section begins.
D. Abstract: The abstract is a very important document. Prior to attending the peer review panel meetings, some of the panelists may read only the abstract. Therefore, it is critical that the abstract accurately describe the research being proposed and convey all the essential elements of the research. Also, the abstracts of funded applications will form the basis for an Annual Report of awards made under this program and will be posted on the NCER web site. The abstract, limited to two pages, should include the following information, as indicated in the example format. Examples of abstracts for current grants may be found on the NCER web site.
1. Sorting Code: 2002-STAR-Q-1.E. Overall Program Description: This description must not exceed fifteen (15) consecutively numbered (center bottom), 8.5x11-inch pages of single-spaced standard 12-point type with 1-inch margins, inclusive of figures and other visual materials, but exclusive of references. The description must provide the following information:
2. Title: Use the exact title as it appears in the rest of the application.
3. Investigators: Start with the Principal Investigator (Director). Also list the names and affiliations of each major co-investigator who will significantly contribute to the project.
4. Institution: List the name and city/state of each participating university or other applicant institution, in the same order as the list of investigators.
5. Project Period: Provide the proposed program beginning and ending dates.
6. Program Cost: Provide the total request for federal funds for the entire project period.
7. Overall Summary: This should summarize: (a) the objectives of the R-EaGLe (including all hypotheses that will be tested), (b) the experimental approach to be used (which should give an accurate description of the R-EaGLes objectives as described in the proposal), and (c) the expected results of the research and how it addresses the needs identified in the solicitation, including the estimated improvement in risk assessment or risk management that will result from successful completion of the work proposed.
8. Supplemental Keywords: A list of suggested keywords is provided for your use. Do not duplicate terms already used in the text of the abstract. Providing a complete set of keywords is very important.
1. Objectives: List the overall objectives of the research that will be conducted by the members of the R-EaGLe and briefly state why the intended research is important. This section should also include any background or introductory information that would help explain the overall R-EaGLe objectives (one to two pages recommended).In addition to the overall program description of the R-EaGLe, each individual research project must be described as follows:
2. Approach: Summarize the overall methods, approaches, and techniques that you intend to employ in meeting the objectives stated above (two to five pages recommended).
3. Expected Results or Benefits: Describe the results you expect to achieve, the benefits of success as they relate to this solicitation, and the potential recipients of these benefits. This section should also discuss the utility of the research projects proposed for addressing the environmental problems described in the solicitation (one to two pages recommended).
4. Management Plan and Milestones: Describe the administrative and management aspects of the R-EaGLe including how communications will be ensured, how priorities are set, how projects will be monitored, and how progress will be measured. Outline the planned interactions with the environmental management agency (e.g., State or Tribal) associated with the program. The management plan should also state its data policy, present both the budget for administration of the overall R-EaGLe and an overall summary budget, and contain a resume for the Director. Project management should be clearly delineated, with the roles and responsibilities of each investigator described. A year-by-year summary of proposed work must be included with intermediate outcomes and a time line of major tasks covering the duration of the proposed R-EaGLe project (two to five pages recommended).
5. General Information: Discuss other information relevant to the potential success of the R-EaGLe. This should include facilities, interactions with other institutions, etc. (one to two pages recommended).
6. Important Attachments: Appendices and/or other information may be included but must remain within the 15-page limit. References cited are in addition to the 15 pages. Each of the individual research projects is allocated an additional 15 pages.
F. Individual Research Project Descriptions: Each of the specific individual research projects should be completely described according to the instructions in NCERs Standard Instructions for Submitting a STAR Application (http://www.epa.gov/ncer/guidance/). In essence, each individual research project is a complete application. An additional fifteen pages is permitted for each of the individual project descriptions. Each will have an abstract, project budget, and resumes of participating researchers, all of which are in addition to the allowed 15 pages. The Director of the R-EaGLe may participate as the Principal Investigator on one or more of the individual projects. All individual project proposals should be collected and submitted as part of an integrated R-EaGLe proposal. No proposal independent of a proposed overall R-EaGLe will be considered.
G. Resumes: The resumes of all principal investigators and important co-workers must be provided. Resumes must not exceed two consecutively numbered (bottom center), 8.5x11-inch pages of single-spaced standard 12-point type with 1-inch margins for each individual.
H. Current and Pending Support: The applicant must identify any current and pending financial resources that are intended to support research related to that included in the proposal or which would consume the time of principal investigators or Director. This should be done by completing the appropriate form (click here for forms) for each investigator and other senior personnel involved in the proposal. Failure to provide this information may delay consideration of your proposal.
I. Budget: The applicant must present a detailed, itemized budget for the entire R-EaGLe program. This budget must be in the format provided in the example (click here for forms) and not exceed two consecutively numbered (bottom center), 8.5x11-inch pages with 1-inch margins. Please note that institutional cost-sharing is not required and, therefore, does not have to be included in the budget table. However, if you intend to cost-share, a brief statement concerning cost sharing can be added to the budget justification, which should include the estimated dollar amounts associated with the appropriate categories in the budget table. In addition, provide a separate budget for each individual research project in the same format.
J. Budget Justification: This section should describe the basis for calculating the personnel, fringe benefits, travel, equipment, supplies, contractual support, and other (including computer) costs identified in the itemized budget and explain the basis for their calculation (special attention should be given to explaining the travel, equipment, and other categories). This should also include an explanation of how the indirect costs were calculated. This justification should not exceed two consecutively numbered (bottom center), 8.5x11-inch pages of single-spaced standard 12-point type with 1-inch margins.
K. Quality Assurance Statement: For any project involving data collection or processing, conducting surveys, environmental measurements, and/or modeling, or the development of environmental technology (whether hardware-based or via new techniques) for pollution control and waste treatment, provide a statement on quality processes that will be used to assure that results of the research satisfy the intended project objectives. The statement must describe a quality system that complies with the requirements of ANSI/ASQC E4, "Specifications and Guidelines for Quality Systems for Environmental Data Collection and Environmental Technology," and must not exceed two pages per project. This Statement should, for each item listed below, present the required information, reference the relevant portion of the project description containing the information, or provide a justification as to why the item does not apply to the proposed research.
1. Discuss the activities to be performed or hypothesis to be tested and criteria for determining acceptable data quality. (Note: Such criteria may be expressed in terms of precision, accuracy, representativeness, completeness, and comparability or in terms of data quality objectives or acceptance criteria. Furthermore, these criteria must also be applied to determine the acceptability of existing or secondary data to be used in the project. In this context secondary data may be defined as data previously collected for other purposes or from other sources, including the literature, compilations from computerized data bases, results from models of environmental processes and conditions or monitoring activities being conducted by other entities.)After awards are made, a quality management plan for the R-EaGLe and more detailed quality assurance project plans will be required for each of the sub-projects.
2. Describe the study design, including sample type and location requirements, any statistical analyses that were or will be used to estimate the types and numbers of physical samples required, or equivalent information for studies using survey and interview techniques.
3. Describe the procedures for the handling and custody of samples, including sample collection, identification, preservation, transportation, and storage.
4. Describe the procedures that will be used in the calibration and performance evaluation of the sampling and analytical methods and equipment to be used during the project.
5. Discuss the procedures for data reduction and reporting, including a description of all statistical methods, with reference to any statistical software to be used, to make inferences and conclusions; discuss any computer models to be designed or utilized with associated verification and validation techniques.
6. Describe the quantitative and/or qualitative procedures that will be used to evaluate the success of the project, including any plans for peer or other reviews of the study design or analytical methods prior to data collection.
ANSI/ASQC E4, "Specifications and Guidelines for Quality Systems for Environmental Data Collection and Environmental Technology Programs," is available for purchase from the American Society for Quality, phone 1-800-248-1946, item T55. Only in exceptional circumstances should it be necessary to consult this document. An EPA guidance document, Guidance on Satisfying EPA Quality System Requirements for STAR Grants (EPA QA/G-1STAR) is available for potential applicants which addresses in detail how to comply with ANSI/ASQC E4 for STAR grants. This may be found on the Internet at http://www.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/forms/index.html
L. Postcard: The Applicant must include with the application a self-addressed, stamped 3x5-inch post card. This will be used to acknowledge receipt of the application and to transmit other important information to the applicant. If the applicant does not receive an acknowledgment within 60 days of the submission deadline, contact the person listed under Contacts.
The original and ten (10) copies of the fully developed application (11 in all) and one (1) additional copy of the program abstract (12 in all), must be received by NCER no later than 4:00 P.M. EST on the closing date, October 15, 2002.
The application and abstract must be prepared in accordance with these instructions. Informal, incomplete, or unsigned proposals will not be considered. The original, signature copy of the application should not be bound or stapled in any way. The required number of copies of the application should be secured with paper or binder clips.
Completed applications should be sent via regular mail to:
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Peer Review Division (8703R)
Sorting Code: 2002-STAR-Q-1
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington DC 20460
For express mail-delivered applications, the following address must be used:
U. S. Environmental Protection Agency
Peer Review Division (8703R)
Sorting Code: 2002-STAR-Q1
1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20004
Phone: (202) 564-6939 (for express mail applications)
Courier- or personally-delivered applications must be brought to the Ronald Reagan Building, 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20004. The courier must come to the EPA Visitors Lobby, tell the security guard that he/she has a delivery for the EPA mail room. The courier will be required to sign a visitors log, and will be directed to the EPA mail room. The mail room is open 8:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. weekdays, exclusive of Federal holidays. If the applicant requires a receipt for the delivery, you will need to provide a form which the mail room personnel will sign.
Further information, if needed, may be obtained from the EPA officials indicated below. Email inquiries are preferred.