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8. If you need further help click the Help tab, this will link you to the main HabITS Confluence page where you can find many resources on how to use HabITS Version 5.

HabITS Data Entry Guidance

Writing AWESOME HabITS Narratives

Why do we even need to write a narrative?

  • Narratives are where you can tell your story to include: How, what, and why?
  • Narratives help to fill in the blanks and connect the dots between partnerships, restoration treatments, and benefits.
  • Narratives help to show the significance and need for a project and help justify the Service investment.
  • Narratives are used by HQ for outreach and in-reach including: annual accomplishment reports, Congressional correspondence, budget justifications, briefing materials, articles, social media & MORE!
  • Well-written narratives increase the efficiency of our work and reduce the need of HQ and Regional staff to continually contact field staff.

What NOT to include:

  • The natural history of species. Just include information that is relevant to the work you did or will do.  (i.e., the grassland will provide stop-over habitat for migratory birds and nesting habitat for native song birds)
  • Background information on the relationship with the Landowner/Partner (Save that for your project files)
  • Background information regarding the restoration approach or treatment (e.g., Historically, we used to do XYZ, but it was ineffective because of ABC, and after X years of legal issues regarding landowner complaints….blah, blah, blah…it was determined that the practice of EFG was preferable because of....blah, blah, blah).

Elements of AWESOME Narratives

Be concise and try to use a narrative tone. It’s important to put the correct information in the correct spot so that in the future we can pull the information out in relevant reports.  If the same information is cut and pasted to each type of narrative, then it can potentially be a lot of information for the reader to wade through and it makes setting up automated reports more difficult.  For example, if in the future we just want a report with all of the description of our project partnerships in a given fiscal year for a specific region, State, field office or POC, we could easily pull the mechanism narratives. 

Mechanism Narratives

Mechanism narratives should describe the roles of your partnership, highlight responsibilities of your partnership, provide some context to the rationale/importance of the partnership, and briefly describe the partner.

Example Mechanism Narrative w/NGO:

This MOU is with the Big Watershed Land Conservancy (BWLC) which works with partners in the 5,000 acre Big Watershed to restore habitat and protect land by acquiring, holding, and enforcing easements.  We have worked with the BLWC since 2012 to protect and restore habitat for the small shiny fish, a federally endangered species endemic only to this watershed.   The BLWC is important to the success of our work in this watershed because they have the capacity to do landowner outreach, they leverage money for restoration projects, and provide assistance to landowners interested in placing an easement on their lands.  BWLC also secured a NFWF grant for restoration and protection work that will be used to cost share on this project.  Our role in this partnership is to provide matching program funding, as well as project design and implementation assistance. 

Example Mechanism Narrative w/ Landowner:

This Landowner Agreement is for 10 years on the landowner’s 70 acre property in Suffolk County in the Little Grass Watershed.  The landowner is working with NRCS on a WRP easement and wanted us to assist on planning and implementing a restoration project to benefit waterfowl on his property.  We are also providing cost share for this project with the landowner covering 50% project cost for the waterfowl restoration portion.

Project Narratives 

Project narratives should describe the project in general, its importance, the biological benefits, and the initiatives it addresses. Additionally, project narratives: 

  • Should describe the “big picture” of the restoration project on a specific site and how it supports our Service priorities.
  • Should clearly describe the Service’s role and show substantial involvement. Showing substantial involvement is important to distinguish our programs from conventional grant programs (See 505 DM 2.9 for the definition of “Substantial Involvement,” text is attached below) 
  • Be specific regarding the technical assistance you are providing: project design and project implementation, assistance in writing grant proposals, site assessments, navigating the regulatory compliance requirements, developing and/or implementing project monitoring plans, etc.
  • Should describe the specific project benefits such as reduction of shoreline erosion, enhancement of migratory bird habitat, protection of specific habitat, implementation of specific recovery actions
  • Should describe biological outcomes (if applicable): Increased population, increased number of breeding pairs, or use of habitat by target species.
  • Describe how the project supports a Service initiative. Remember to also select the initiative in project initiative section.
  • Describe any economic (i.e., jobs/jobs training), community (i.e., recreation), or youth benefits created by the project (if applicable).
  • If this project is notable in any way (e.g., new innovative technique, received awards, received press coverage, project site was visited by VIPs)
  • Narratives should be in past tense and describe the work that was completed in the project. Once the project is completed, the narrative should be edited to reflect anything that may NOT have been completed.


Example Project Narrative

This project consisted of establishing a 5 acre warm-season grass and forb prairie with firebreaks by converting a previously cropped fallow sand ridge. Site preparation consisted of one glyphosate herbicide application prior to planting. The site was planted by no-till warm-season grass drill in the spring of 2013. The species that were planted include little bluestem, side-oats grama, Indian grass and Canada wild rye plus 10 forbs. (Species list in project file.) The conversion of the site to warm-season grasses and forbs will provide nesting habitat for migratory song birds such as eastern meadowlarks and dickcissels.
 

The Partners biologist assessed the site, developed the restoration plan, reviewed the seed mix species, and oversaw completion of the project. The PFW program also purchased the seed. The project site is adjacent to a Big Polygon State Fish & Wildlife Area and a local community college which will be using this area as a living classroom.  Interpretive signs will be installed and students will have the opportunity to assist in monitoring projects.  This supports the Department’s America’s Great Outdoors’ Youth Initiative. The project is also in the Awesome Habitat Focus Area which as the highest diversity of grassland songbirds and rare plants in the Big Polygon State. 

 

Accomplishment Narratives 

When the Project involves different performance habitat types (wetland, upland, in-stream, shoreline, etc), different types of treatments, or is multiyear, it may be necessary to include accomplishments narratives to describe the details of the specific accomplishment, especially if each accomplishment addresses different species, different service priorities, different economic/community/youth benefits, etc.

 

Example Accomplishment Narrative #1

This accomplishment involved the restoration of a wetland at the Awesome Landowner Project Site.  The Coastal Program Biologist designed the restoration project, secured the regulatory permits, and oversaw the application of glyphosate to treat invasive species and the removal of excess woody vegetation to help control water and shade levels which will directly benefit Bog Turtles which are a federally listed species in this northern population.  The Local Boy Scout Troops provided much needed man power to hand remove woody vegetation in the winter while the wetland was frozen to prevent soil disturbance. 


Example Accomplishment Narrative #2

Adjacent to the wetland restoration at the Awesome Landowner Project Site, the Coastal Program also installed 20 acres of native warm season grassland to benefit grassland song birds including Grasshopper Sparrows and Dickcissels.  The project biologist designed the plan for the grassland including choosing the native seed mix and the density, and then supervised the site preparation and planting of the seeds.  A local University professor will be using the area as a research site for his field course “Cool Birds you see from far away with binoculars.” This supports the Department’s America’s Great Outdoors’ Youth Initiative. 

 


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