November is Manatee Awareness Month; but no matter what time of year it is, manatees deserve to be celebrated. These amazing creatures fulfill a unique niche by serving as indicator species for ecosystems across the United States. Because of their reliance on the health of their habitat, manatees often act as a signal of their environment’s well-being. NOAA photo by Michael Buchanan.
Spring is coming early in 3/4 of national parks, according to a new study. Awesome? Not so much. As flowers bloom earlier every year, it’s disrupting the link between the wildflowers and the arrival of birds, bees, and butterflies that feed on and pollinate the flowers. In Shenandoah, an earlier spring is giving invasive plants a head start, and they’re displacing native wildflowers, leading to costly management issues.
Before the 1960s almost everything about living openly as a lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) person was illegal. New York City laws against homosexual activities were particularly harsh. The Stonewall Uprising on June 28, 1969 is a milestone in the quest for LGBT civil rights and provided momentum for a movement.
Vine Creek Ranch at Death Valley National Park. Steady drought and record summer heat make Death Valley a land of extremes. Towering peaks are frosted with winter snow. Rare rainstorms bring vast fields of wildflowers. Lush oases harbor tiny fish and refuge for wildlife and humans. Despite its morbid name, a great diversity of life survives in Death Valley.
The Land Buy-Back Program for Tribal Nations (Buy-Back Program) is interested in partnering with tribes to gain their direct participation in implementing land consolidation activities. Tribes have the opportunity to actively participate in the process, including identifying acquisition priorities and conducting landowner outreach and education. Tribal involvement will improve the Program's effectiveness and efficiency while minimizing administrative costs.
Tribes are encouraged to become involved in the Program through cooperative agreements* or memorandums of agreements (MOA),** as appropriate. Tribes are not required to enter into cooperative agreements to participate in the Program. In certain cases, such as when a tribe is not seeking funding to partner with the Department on land consolidation efforts, a cooperative agreement may be unnecessary and a MOA may be used. Tribes wishing to enter into a MOA are encouraged to review the MOA Template below to familiarize themselves with the document.
The Buy-Back Program held an open solicitation from November 8, 2013, through March 14, 2014, during which tribes with jurisdiction over the most fractionated locations were invited to submit letters of interest or cooperative agreement applications for participation in the Program. The more than 50 submissions that were received helped to inform an initial implementation schedule, announced in May 2014, as well as additions to that schedule, announced in November 2014, for implementation of the Buy-Back Program through the middle of 2017. These 42 locations represented more than 80 percent of all the fractional interests across Indian Country.
In November 2015, the Program announced a Planning Initiative to assist in the development of its next implementation schedule for 2017 and beyond, with a submission deadline of March 11, 2016. The two-pronged Planning Initiative sought input from tribal governments and landowners who were interested in participating in the Program.
Following an extensive four-month review, the Program announced an expanded schedule for implementation on May 17, 2016. The expanded schedule added 63 additional locations, for a total of 105 locations, on which implementation will begin by mid-2021. Tribes scheduled for implementation will be given the opportunity to apply for a cooperative agreement, or enter into a MOA, as appropriate, prior to Program implementation at the location under their jurisdiction.
Tribes interested in applying for a cooperative agreement to collaborate with the Program on landowner outreach and other activities are encouraged to review the cooperative agreement resources listed below to gain familiarity with the application process and requirements. Close collaboration with Program staff is encouraged throughout the entire cooperative agreement process. Buy-Back Program staff will be available to provide on-going guidance and support, as well as technical assistance in developing a cooperative agreement.
This document provides guidance to tribes on how to prepare their cooperative agreement applications, especially the Application Narrative.
The Application Narrative
Similar to a grant proposal, the Application Narrative is the tribe’s detailed written description of the activities it will perform during implementation of the Buy-Back Program at the tribe’s location. The Application Narrative also provides a budget for the proposed activities and a timeline for completion of the activities.
Standard Financial Assistance Application Forms (SF-424)
These standard, government-wide required forms must be submitted as part of a tribe's cooperative agreement application package to the Buy-Back Program:
This award document provides the legal instrument through which funding can be provided to a tribe to carry out the agreed-upon Program activities. Before funding can be awarded, the Program will first review the tribe's submitted application package and complete the Cooperative Agreement Template with information provided by the tribe. After the Cooperative Agreement Template has been completed by the Program, it will be provided to the tribe for review and signature. A Tribal official must then sign the cooperative agreement to acknowledge understanding of the terms and conditions within the agreement.
Although this template will be completed with individualized tribal information, the terms and conditions contained within the cooperative agreement may not be modified, with the exception of compelling circumstances to be determined on a case-by-case basis. This standardization is to ensure efficiency and fairness to all parties choosing to enter into cooperative agreements in light of the Program's limited time and resources set by the Cobell Settlement.
ASAP Enrollment Forms
Funds awarded through a cooperative agreement will be available via the U.S. Treasury Department’s Automated Standard Application for Payments (ASAP) system. In order to receive access to awarded funds, tribes must be enrolled in the ASAP system under Agency Location Code 14010001. To enroll in ASAP, tribes must complete and return the following 3 enrollment forms to the Program:
Applicable Rules/Guidance for Cooperative Agreements
On December 26, 2013, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) published revised financial assistance regulations in the Federal Register to streamline the Federal Government's guidance on Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards. These regulations supersede various OMB Circulars including A–87, A–102, and A–133. Under the 2000 Indian Land Consolidation Act (ILCA) Amendments, the Secretary, to the extent practicable, may enter into agreements with the tribal government that exercises jurisdiction over the land involved or a subordinate entity of the tribal government to carry out some or all of the Secretary's land acquisition program. In accordance with the ILCA, cooperative agreements with the Buy-Back Program are not made pursuant to the Indian Self-Determination and Assistance Act (ISDEAA), 25 U.S.C. § 450 et seq. See 25 U.S.C. § 2212(b)(3)(C).
As mentioned above, tribes are not required to enter into cooperative agreements to participate in the Program. Prior to implementation, tribes that would like to partner with the Program via a MOA will be invited to discuss the level of tribal engagement they would like to have during implementation. The MOA Template, which the Program completes, will be informed by these discussions and is intended to capture the roles and responsibilities of the Program and the tribe during implementation. Once the MOA Template has been completed by the Program, it will be provided to the tribe for review and signature. A Tribal official must then sign the MOA to acknowledge understanding of the terms and conditions within the agreement.
Although this MOA template will be completed with individualized tribal information and will capture the implementation roles and responsibilities discussed with the Program, the more general terms and conditions contained within the agreement may not be modified, with the exception of compelling circumstances to be determined on a case-by-case basis. As with cooperative agreements, this standardization is to ensure efficiency and fairness to all parties choosing to enter into a MOA in light of the Program's limited time and resources set by the Cobell Settlement.
*A cooperative agreement is a legal instrument, similar to a grant, that represents the relationship between the Federal Government (i.e., Buy-Back Program) and a recipient (i.e., tribe). Its principle purpose is to transfer a thing of value (e.g., funding) to a recipient to carry out a public purpose of support or stimulation, as authorized by the Federal Government. When completing the activities under a cooperative agreement, substantial involvement is expected between the parties.
** A memorandum of agreement (also known as a memorandum of understanding) may be used whenever there is an agreement to exchange information or coordinate programs. They are used to optimize the benefits of each party's efforts. Each party is responsible for contributing its own effort and resources, such as funds, are not exchanged.