CHAPTER 33RESOURCE ENHANCEMENT AND PROTECTION PROGRAM:COUNTY, CITY AND PRIVATE OPEN SPACES GRANT PROGRAMSPart 1GENERAL PROVISIONS57133.1(455A) Purpose. The purpose of these rules is to define procedures for the administration of the private cost-sharing funds within the open spaces account, the county conservation account, and the city park and open spaces account of the resource enhancement and protection fund.57133.2(455A) Resource enhancement policy. The resource enhancement and protection program and its various elements shall constitute a long-term integrated effort to wisely use and protect Iowa’s natural resources through the acquisition and management of public lands, the upgrading of public park and preserve facilities; environmental education, monitoring, and research; and other environmentally sound means. Expenditure of funds from the county conservation account, the city park and open spaces account and the private cost-sharing portion of the open spaces account shall be in accord with this policy.57133.3(455A) Definitions.
"County resource enhancement committee" means the county resource enhancement committee created in 1989 Iowa Acts, chapter 236, section 7 [Iowa Code section 455A.20].
"Department" means the department of natural resources created in Iowa Code section 455A.2.
"Director" means the director of the department of natural resources.
"Natural resource commission" means the natural resource commission of the department created in Iowa Code section 455A.5.
"Open spaces" means those natural or cultural resource areas that contain natural vegetation, fish, wildlife, or have historic, scenic, recreation and education value. Examples of open spaces in cities and towns include, but are not limited to, parks, riverfronts and town squares. In rural areas, open spaces include, but are not limited to, such areas as woodlands, prairies, marshlands, river corridors, lake shores, parks and wildlife areas.57133.4(455A) Restrictions. Funds allocated to cities and counties under this chapter shall not be used for single or multipurpose athletic fields, baseball or softball diamonds, tennis courts, golf courses, swimming pools, and other group or organized sport facilities.57133.5(455A) Grant applications, general procedures. 33.5(1) Any project submitted from a city or county for grant consideration or for the private cost-sharing program must first have been reviewed and commented on by the county resource enhancement committee from the county in which the project is located. Application must include documentation of that review and a summary of any comments made by the committee. 33.5(2) Applications for all grant programs shall be made on forms provided by the department. An original and five copies shall be submitted by deadlines as specified in subrule 33.5(4) of this chapter or as otherwise published by the department. 33.5(3) Applications shall provide sufficient detail as to clearly describe the scope of the project. Any application which is not complete at the time of project review and scoring, or for which additional pertinent information has been requested and not received, shall not be considered for funding. 33.5(4) Application deadlines are the same for county, city, and private open space grant programs. Applications will be reviewed and projects selected for funding one time each year in September. Applications must be received in acceptable form by the department by the close of business on the fifteenth day of August. Upon a 60-day notice to potential applicants, the department may schedule additional review and selection periods to expedite the distribution of grant funds. 33.5(5) Joint applications are permitted. One entity must serve as the primary applicant. Joint projects sponsored by entities competing for funds from different REAP accounts, e.g., a joint city/county project, are allowable. Applications must clearly spell out the respective shares of project costs to be derived from various REAP accounts if the project is approved for funding. Any cooperative agreement between joint applicants must be provided as a part of the application.57133.6(455A) Appraisals. Appraisal reports must be approved or disapproved in writing by the director. Grants may include incidental costs associated with the acquisition, including, but not limited to, costs for appraisals, abstracts, prorated taxes, deed tax stamps, recording fees and any necessary surveys and fencing.57133.7(455A) Groundwater hazard statements. Grantees must obtain a properly completed groundwater hazard statement on all proposed acquisitions before the acquisition is completed. The statement must be filed with the department and county recorder pursuant to Iowa Code section 558.69. Prior to the acquisition of any property that has an abandoned or unused well, hazardous waste disposal site, solid waste disposal site, or underground storage tank the grantee must file with the department a plan that details how these conditions will be managed to best protect the environment. This plan must be approved in writing by the director before the land is acquired.57133.8(455A) Rating systems not used. During any funding cycle when total grant requests are less than the allotment available, the rating system need not be applied. All applications will be reviewed by the appropriate committee for eligibility to ensure they meet minimum scoring requirements and to ensure consistency with program policy and purposes.57133.9(455A) Applications not selected for grants. All applications for projects considered eligible but not scoring high enough to be awarded a grant immediately will be retained by the department until two months prior to the next regular submittal date during which time they may be funded. If not approved for funding by that time, applicants will be notified by the department in writing. The original application will be returned to applicants only upon request. The applicant may resubmit the project or an amended version of the project for scoring and consideration during the next application cycle by resubmitting an original or amended application and five copies by the respective deadline.57133.10(455A) Similar development projects. An application for a development project grant may include development on more than one area if that development is of a like type (e.g., tree and shrub plantings).57133.11(455A) Commission review and approval. The director will present the recommendations of the appropriate project review and selection committee in recommended funding order to the natural resource commission at its next meeting following the ranking of projects for funding. The commission may approve or disapprove funding for any project on the list. The commission may change the order of the list. Reasons for change or rejection of any recommended project must be included in the motion to change the order of the list or reject any project.57133.12(455A) Timely commencement and completion of projects. Grant recipients are expected to commence and complete projects in a timely and expeditious manner. A project period commensurate with the work to be accomplished will be established and included in the project agreement. Project sponsors may receive up to 90 percent of approved grant funds at the start of the project period. Failure to initiate the project or to complete it in a timely manner may be cause for termination of the project, return of unused grant funds at the time of termination, and cancellation of the grant by the department.57133.13(455A) Waivers of retroactivity. Normally grants for acquisitions or developments completed prior to application scoring will not be approved. However, an applicant may make written request for a waiver of retroactivity to allow project elements to be considered for grant assistance. Waivers will be granted in writing by the director and receipt of a waiver does not ensure funding, but only ensures that the project will be considered for funding along with all other applications.57133.14(455A) Project amendments. Projects for which grants have been approved may be amended, if funds are available, to increase or decrease project scope or to increase or decrease project costs and grant amount. All amendments must be approved by the appropriate project review and selection committee and by the director. Amendments which result in an increase in the cost of the project in excess of $25,000 or 25 percent of the approved cost, whichever is greater, or which involve a change in the project purpose also must be approved by the commission.57133.15(455A) Payments. Ninety percent of approved grant amounts may be paid to project sponsors when requested, but not earlier than start-up of the project. Ten percent of the grant total shall be withheld by the department pending successful completion and final inspection, or until any irregularities discovered as a result of a final site inspection have been resolved.57133.16(455A) Record keeping and retention. Grant recipients shall keep adequate records relating to the administration of a project, particularly relating to all incurred expenses. These records shall be available for audit by representatives of the department and the state auditor’s office. All records shall be retained in accordance with state laws.57133.17(455A) Penalties. Whenever any property, real or personal, acquired or developed with resource enhancement and protection funds passes from the control of the grantee or is used for purposes other than the approved project purpose, it will be considered an unlawful use of the funds. If a grantee desires to use the approved funds for a purpose other than the approved project purpose that is an approved use of funds under the provisions of Iowa Code chapter 455A and these rules, the grantee shall seek an amendment to the project purpose by following the provisions of 33.14(455A). The department shall notify the grantee of any such violation. 33.17(1) Remedy. Funds used without authorization, for purposes other than the approved project purpose, or unlawfully must be returned to the department for deposit in the account of the resource enhancement and protection fund from which they were originally apportioned. In the case of diversion of property acquired with resource enhancement and protection fund assistance, property of equal value at current market prices and with similar open space benefits may be acquired with local, nongrant funds to replace it. Such replacement must be approved by the appropriate review and selection committee and the director. In the case of diversion of personal property, the grantee shall remit to the department funds in the amount of the original purchase price of the property. The grantee shall have a period of two years after notification by the department in which to correct the unlawful use of funds. The remedies provided in this subrule are in addition to others provided by law. 33.17(2) Land disposal. Whenever the department, and, if a city or county, the grantee, determine that land acquired or developed with resource enhancement and protection fund assistance is no longer of value for the program purposes, or that the grantee can show good cause why the land should no longer be used in accord with the approved project purpose; the land may be disposed of with the director’s approval and the proceeds therefrom used to acquire or develop an area of equal value, or all grant funds shall be returned to the state for inclusion in the account from which the grant was originally made. If land acquired through the private grant program is determined to be no longer of interest by the state, the proposed dispersal of the property shall be reviewed by the grantee, and the grantee shall have the first right of refusal on an option to take title to the property in question. 33.17(3) Ineligibility. Whenever the director determines that a grantee is in violation of this rule, that grantee shall be ineligible for further assistance until the matter has been resolved to the satisfaction of the commission.57133.18(455A) Rescinded IAB 6/4/97, effective 7/9/97.57133.19(455A) Property tax reimbursement. Political subdivisions of the state shall be reimbursed for property tax dollars lost to open space acquisitions made under the private cost-sharing program specified in part 4 of these rules based on the reimbursement formula provided for in Iowa Code section 465A.4.57133.20(455A) Public hearing. Any project in excess of $2 million must be the subject of a public hearing in the area of the state affected by the project before funds can be obligated to the project.57133.21(455A) Conflict of interest. If a project is submitted to a review and selection committee by a city, conservation board or private conservation interests, one of whose members or employees is on the review and selection committee, that individual shall not participate in discussion on and shall not vote on that particular project.57133.22(455A) Public communications. Grant recipients shall participate in public communications activities to inform the public of the REAP program and of their particular project. The project will not be considered successfully completed, for purposes of 571—33.15(455A), until evidence is provided to the department REAP coordinator that the following requirements have been met. The remaining 10 percent payment of the grant total will not be issued until such evidence has been provided. Evidence includes but is not limited to photographs showing sign placement, newspaper or magazine clippings, printed brochures or fliers available to the public, exhibits for public display and other related materials. Information gathered from site inspections by the department may also be considered acceptable evidence. 33.22(1) Signs. Grant recipients are required to adequately display the 12-inch by 12-inch REAP signs, provided by the department at no charge, on project locations where appropriate so that users of the project can readily see that REAP is at least partially responsible for the project. The REAP signs will be maintained and replaced as necessary as long as the department has signs available. 33.22(2) Dedication ceremony. Grant recipients shall hold a public meeting or event to dedicate the project. Information provided during the event shall include information in regard to the REAP program and its role in supporting the project. This information shall also be provided to local news media by use of a news release. Local and state elected officials shall be invited to attend and participate. 33.22(3) Grants include public communications plan. A description of the public communications plan shall be included in every project submitted as a grant request. Grant recipients shall carry out the plan if their project is funded.57133.23 Reserved.57133.24 Reserved.57133.25 Reserved.57133.26 Reserved.57133.27 Reserved.57133.28 Reserved.57133.29 Reserved.Part 2COUNTY GRANTS57133.30(455A) County conservation account. All funds allocated to counties under this program may be used for land easements or acquisitions, capital improvements, stabilization and protection of resources, repair and upgrading of facilities, environmental education, and equipment; except as restricted by 33.4(455A). 33.30(1) Allocation of funds. The first $350,000 in the resource enhancement and protection fund is allocated annually to the conservation education board and 1 percent of the revenues to the fund are allocated to the administration fund. Twenty percent of funds remaining after that allocation shall be allocated to the county conservation account. That 20 percent shall be distributed to counties as follows: a. Thirty percent equally to each county b. Thirty percent based on county population c. Forty percent on a competitive grant basisIn determining the amount to be allocated to each county based on population, the department will use the most current census data available from the department of economic development. 33.30(2) Expenditure guidelines. All expenditures shall be in accord with the policy stated in 33.2(455A) and subject to the restrictions stated in 33.4(455A). Expenditure of funds for personnel costs from 33.30(1)“a” and “b” is allowable, but only when personnel are clearly directed toward the purpose and policy of the resource enhancement and protection program. No personnel costs are allowable under 33.30(1)“c” grant program.Up to 20 percent of a total project’s cost under 33.30(1)“c” may be used to cover costs of engineering and design work or other consultant fees directly associated with the project. 33.30(3) Project planning and review committee. The makeup of this committee is as follows: two representatives of the department appointed by the director; two county conservation board directors appointed by the director of the department with input from the Iowa Association of County Conservation Boards; one member selected every three years by a majority vote of the director’s appointees. The members shall select a chairperson at the first meeting during each calendar year. Terms of appointment to the committee shall be on a three-year staggered term basis. 33.30(4) Project selection criteria. Under the competitive grants program, a project planning and review committee shall establish criteria and scoring systems to be utilized in project evaluation. Criteria and scoring systems must be distributed to all counties at least 90 days prior to project application deadline. Criteria will be reviewed at least annually to determine if amendments are needed. The committee shall evaluate and rank the resource enhancement and protection (REAP) county conservation grant applications, scoring each criterion from 1 to 10, low to high, and using the following multipliers for each criterion: a. The committee shall use a multiplier of four for a demonstrated relationship to the state comprehensive outdoor recreation plan, the Iowa open spaces protection plan, the county resource enhancement plan, and other relevant local, state and federal plans. b. The committee shall use a multiplier of three for the quality of the site or the project, or both. (1) Quality of site. For land acquisition projects, the committee shall consider the following characteristics:
- Level of significance. Relative rarity of the natural resources found on the project site, including but not limited to native vegetation, documented presence of species of greatest conservation need as defined by the Iowa Wildlife Action Plan developed by the department, which may be amended from time to time, or other uncommonly occurring but native resources.
- Resource representation. Quality of the project site, including but not limited to the size and diversity of the project area and the vegetation and wildlife it supports.
- Relation to public land. Proximity to existing wildlife management areas, existing parks and other public recreation areas, or other greenbelt areas already under public ownership and management.
- Level of significance. Relative rarity of the natural resources found on the project site, including but not limited to native vegetation, the documented presence of species of greatest conservation need as defined by the Iowa Wildlife Action Plan developed by the department, which may be amended from time to time, or other uncommonly occurring but native resources.
- Resource representation. The quality of the project site, including but not limited to the size and diversity of the project area and the vegetation and wildlife it supports.
- Level of threat. Specific factors or immediate threats to the project area that constitute urgency for acquisition and development, including but not limited to urban expansion, residential development, agricultural activities, or clearing.
- Relation to public land. Proximity to existing wildlife management areas, existing parks, other public recreation areas or other greenbelt areas already under public ownership and management.