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RULE §61.137Grants for Regional Parks Grant Programs

(a) Program purpose and priorities. All grant applications submitted to the department for the regional park program are evaluated for program eligibility and prioritized according to the Project Priority Scoring System set forth in this section. Scored applications are presented to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission for approval. In general, recommended priorities for regional park projects are:

  (1) to ensure sponsor performance on active grants and compliance at previously assisted grant sites;

  (2) to reward acquisition of land for intensive use, linear greenway, conservation areas, access to natural water bodies, access to, and/or appropriate development (defined as development that is consistent with sound ecological management and stewardship of natural resources) of other significant natural resources;

  (3) to reward appropriate development (defined as development that is consistent with sound ecological management and stewardship of natural resources) of significant water-based or natural resource-based recreation or conservation of aquatic habitat;

  (4) to reward matching fund contributions from sources other than the sponsor;

  (5) to reward regional planning efforts;

  (6) to reward greenbelt linkage; and

  (7) to promote environmentally responsible activities and development.

(b) Regional park project priority scoring system.

  (1) Regional park projects presented to the commission shall be scored according to the criteria, rating factors, and point values set forth in this subsection.

  (2) The priority ranking of a project will depend on its score in relation to the scores of other projects under consideration.

  (3) Funding of projects will depend on the availability of federal Land and Water Conservation Fund funds.

  (4) Projects which have not been approved after two considerations by the commission, without alterations to significantly raise the project score, shall be returned to the sponsor and not accepted for resubmission.

  (5) If the sponsor is in full compliance at previously assisted grant project sites and is progressing on schedule with all active grant projects in accordance with the provisions of this subchapter, the application will be scored and presented for award consideration. If the sponsor does not meet the requirements of this paragraph, the application will not be scored or considered further.

  (6) A project proposal meeting the requirements of paragraph (5) of this subsection shall be evaluated according to the extent to which:

    (A) the project provides for the acquisition of land for the purposes of:

      (i) intensive use recreation (one to five points); and/or

      (ii) significant linear greenways (one to five points); and/or

      (iii) acquisition and preservation/conservation of vulnerable natural resources, ecological processes, or rare, threatened, or endangered species of vegetation or wildlife for use as conservation areas (mostly passive use, dedication required). The department will not award points under this criteria for projects that are intended to satisfy mitigation requirements under state or federal law (one to 15); and or

      (iv) water access (natural water bodies) (one to five points); and/or

      (v) responsibly managed natural resource access (such as mature forests, prairies, fault zones, listed species habitat, etc., other than water) (one to five points). One to five points will be awarded for each type of acquisition, based on acreage and significance, up to a maximum of 25 points.

    (B) the project proposes appropriate development of significant natural resource-based recreation, up to a total of 15 points.

      (i) project proposes appropriate development of water-based recreation (up to a maximum of five points); and/or

      (ii) project proposes appropriate development of natural resource-based recreation (other than water) (one point per recreational opportunity, up to a maximum of five points); and/or

      (iii) project proposes acquisition and/or conservation of aquatic habitat (up to five points, based on ecological significance).

    (C) the project demonstrates matching fund contributions (privately owned land, money, in-kind). Up to five points may be awarded on a percentage basis, depending on the amount of matching funds provided by partner local units of government as determined by dividing the total outside contribution value by the total match and multiplying the result by five.

    (D) the project fulfills a documented component of a comprehensive, conservation, or park and recreation master plan for one or more political jurisdictions or public service organizations. One point will be awarded per plan, up to a maximum of five points.

    (E) the project proposes to link significant public assets or destinations with trails and/or greenbelts. Two points will be awarded per linkage up to a maximum of 10 points.

    (F) the project promotes conservation of natural resources and sustainable development through the use of activities or techniques such as xeriscape or native plant materials, drip or treated effluent irrigation systems, energy efficient lighting systems, recycled materials for facility construction, environmental education or interpretation, significant tree plantings where no trees exist, alternative energy sources, water catchment systems, or other resource conservation measures. One point will be awarded for each conservation element, up to a maximum of five points, based on significance of conservation activities, diversity, and/or cost.

    (G) the project demonstrates commitments for funds or resources from the private sector or non-profit groups (maximum of five points, based on the number of commitments).

    (H) the project supports the department's Land and Water Conservation Plan. Sponsor must specifically describe how the project meets the goals of the Land and Water Conservation Plan (up to 10 points).

Source Note: The provisions of this §61.137 adopted to be effective June 4, 2002, 27 TexReg 4711; amended to be effective May 1, 2005, 30 TexReg 2556; amended to be effective February 2, 2009, 34 TexReg 666

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