Conservation funders must make data-driven decisions on where to target investments based on information provided by potential funding recipients. FieldDoc is the linchpin to build a knowledge center around restoration efforts for all stakeholders. If you are unfamiliar with FieldDoc, review this article to understand how it supplements your application. The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Delaware Program works to conserve and restore wildlife habitat and water quality in the Delaware River watershed. The program has announced two funding opportunities in 2022. Approximately $2 million in grant funding is available through the Delaware River Restoration Fund to improve water quality, and approximately $14 million is available through the Delaware Watershed Conservation Fund to conserve and restore fish and wildlife habitat and connect people with nature. Together, these investments contribute to the collective Delaware Watershed River Initiative to make a significant impact across the Delaware Watershed and sub-basins.
Since 2014, the Delaware River Restoration Fund has awarded 55 grants totaling roughly $8.5 million. These investments leveraged more than $15.19 million in grantee matching funds to fund agriculture conservation, green stormwater infrastructure, and innovative projects to improve the water quality of the Delaware River. To date, the fund has implemented more than 6,000 acres of best management practices to improve water quality, and restored more than 109 acres of wetlands and 53 miles of riparian habitat.
FieldDoc Components of a NFWF Proposal
As a grant writer, you take on the challenge of crafting a compelling proposal that aligns an organization’s goals with the funder’s priorities while demonstrating — through prose, financials, and data — the value of the investment to all stakeholders. You will use the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation EZGrants system to submit the narrative and financial components of the application. Before you can click submit, however, you must build a project in FieldDoc that shows the following:
- Locations of proposed BMP restoration practices
- Extent of each of the proposed practices identified in your project narrative.
- Estimated impacts of the proposed work such as total nitrogen, phosphorus, and suspended solids reduced
FieldDoc automates as much of this process as possible, and you won’t need access to any additional software, such as mapping software, in order to create the project.
While FieldDoc has been built with the aim of being user friendly and intuitive, building your project can take a little bit of time. After supporting applicants for more than five years, we have a few tips to help make the project creation process go smoothly:
- Read the help documents before you get started, or while filling out your project! We often get asked, how come my project isn’t showing the reductions? And usually the reason is just that the user didn’t go far enough into the project set up process yet. In anticipation of your questions, we have a thorough support center with loads of materials for you. Visit it to walk through all of the steps you need to complete the project.
- Do not wait until the last minute to start your FieldDoc project! If you have a lot of practices proposed in your project, you’re going to have to input information to each of those practices in FieldDoc. There is no workaround for entering information.
- Some practices need additional inputs in order to calculate the automated metrics. Read the metrics page description to see if you need to add more details.
What Information does FieldDoc Collect?
FieldDoc supplements the grant narrative and financial information with more quantitative details. FieldDoc supplies the system to figure out answers to the questions of:
- where strategies will be implemented and
- how much impact installation will have on achieving project and metric targets.
Decision-making and Project Management Enhanced via FieldDoc
Decision-making and Project Management collide in three meaningful ways:
FieldDoc complements existing grant-tracking platforms like Easy Grants because it enables users to document exactly where work is occurring on the landscape. This is critical because many grant management systems lack the functionality to attribute metrics with discrete locations such as best management practice footprints. FieldDoc creates a proof of plan and work by enabling applicants to map where work will occur and state of implementation if awarded funding. All data generated in FieldDoc can be exported in structured formats compatible with third party geographic information systems.
Applicants can create a map of their project directly in FieldDoc. This removes the need to invest in or have knowledge of expensive third party mapping software like ESRI products. The maps demonstrate the location of all installations and often add critical information into the models that calculate estimated load reductions for nitrogen, phosphorus, and total suspended solids.
FieldDoc maps benefit program managers as well. At the proposal stage, visualizing installation locations helps the review committee evaluate practices against other investments and target geographies. Post-award, mapping continues to benefit all stakeholders. Program managers can explore an atlas of all projects in relationship to each other within FieldDoc and build maps that show progress towards metric targets.
FieldDoc offers standardized nomenclature for best management practices proposed and estimated pollutant load reductions. For example, applicants can only choose from an approved list of practices and metrics to include in their project. This helps all stakeholders remain consistent in their use of language and best management practices which, ultimately, yields more effective analysis and tracking of results. Similarly, use of standardized modeling allows program managers to compare estimated reductions consistently.
FieldDoc takes the math out of modeling for applicants. Once a grantee enters key inputs for a practice type model (typically practice type, practice location, and practice extent), the system identifies the relevant model and displays estimated outputs directly within the practice. FieldDoc uses the Adapted Chesapeake Nutrient and Sediment Load Reduction Model and Drexel/ANS BMP API to calculate the estimated reductions.
FieldDoc measures proposed project impact
At its simplest, a FieldDoc project is a collection of proposed best management practices. You are asked to track progress towards a set of metrics determined by the funding program and best management practices in FieldDoc. Some metric targets must be entered by hand (e.g. number of trees planted), while others will be automatically calculated based on peer-reviewed models. After completing the data inputs, you have to take the final step of pdf’ing and uploading the main project page from FieldDoc to your application in the EZGrants portal.
What is a FieldDoc Model?
The Models available in FieldDoc are a much appreciated feature of the system. The model-practice relationship takes pressure off of you to calculate the estimated reductions of your proposed work. In fact, some people think of FieldDoc as a fancy reduction calculation tool because the models are so effective at demonstrating the potential impact of a proposed restoration project.
FieldDoc models are mathematical simulations of the real world that estimate the environmental impact of conservation and/or restoration activities. Models simulate how various changes or actions could affect ecosystems, especially air and water quality, wildlife, and aquatic life. Models forecast on-the-ground outcomes. They provide a crucial window into the value a proposed project may have on meeting program-wide pollution reduction goals.
Please remember that models are just estimates. If you don’t like what the model calculates then you can add in your custom calculations yourself.
For the NFWF Delaware Programs, the platform uses either the Adapted Chesapeake Nutrient and Sediment Load Reduction Model or the Drexel/ANS BMP API to calculate reductions. The model used depends on which practice type you select through the setup process.
The Commons presented more information on this funding opportunity and how to use FieldDoc during a NFWF-hosted webinar. A recording of the webinar can be watched via this link.
The Commons will provide technical support to NFWF Delaware Program Fund applicants through the funding opportunity deadline of March 31, 2022. For guidance, we recommend reading through our help documentation. If you’re still stumped, use our chat box or email us at email@example.com. Our team is online to answer support questions 9:00–5:00 Monday through Friday. We aim to respond to all questions within 24 hours.