(1) Prior to scoring by the council, the department will review and provide analysis to the advisory council regarding application completeness and adherence to eligibility and application requirements.
(2) The council will make funding recommendations to the department based upon the final rank scores. The department will make final decisions on which projects will be recommended for funding. Approval of project grant proposals is ultimately at the discretion of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Federal Aid program.
(3) Scoring criteria is the primary guide for ranking applications and for determination of grant viability. Additional factors outside of the scoring criteria may be considered. Applications that meet minimum qualifications will receive a score based on the following criteria:
(a) Proposal involves a noxious weed threat with compelling information on how the infestation directly diminishes the effectiveness of a priority habitat to support one or more priority wildlife species. (0 to 20 pts)
(b) Proposal would significantly reduce or resolve noxious weed threat and support habitat effectiveness over a sizable portion of priority habitat and associated watersheds. Applications that do not include a minimum acreage of priority habitat to benefit from grant funding will receive zero points. (0 to 20 pts)
(c) Project would help implement an established weed management strategy, is technically feasible, and would maintain or restore native vegetation. (0 to 10 pts)
(d) Management of project area addresses the primary spread of noxious weeds to native wildlife habitats (up to 5 pts) while also providing for native plant community health to reduce susceptibility to weed invasion (up to 5 pts). (0 to 10 pts)
(e) Project involves funding commitments from multiple partners (up to 5 pts) and leverages additional funding or in-kind contribution beyond the minimum required (up to 5 pts). (0 to 10 pts)
(f) Project demonstrates an effective collaboration across multiple land ownerships. Cooperative Weed Management Areas, as defined in the Montana State Weed Management Plan, would receive the highest points. (0 to 15 pts)
(g) Project area provides access for public hunting. (0 to 15 pts)
(h) Monitoring plan meets or exceeds requirements as described in 12.9.1604. (0 to 10 pts)
(i) The grant application, including proposal information, funding plan, and monitoring plan, is clear, well organized, and reflects a high likelihood of success for all aspects of the proposed project (up to 5 pts). Grant application characteristics or circumstances that may be valuable but are not captured in other scoring criteria (up to 5 pts). (0 to 10 pts)
(4) This rule expires June 30, 2023, pursuant to 87-5-808, MCA.