Lesser prairie chicken booming grounds, surveys of Fort Riley reptiles and amphibians and bird identification cards for Cheyenne Bottoms are just a small sample of the projects made possible through the Chickadee Checkoff small grants program.

Time to submit grant proposals is almost over. Applicants for Chickadee Checkoff small grants have until April 15 to submit proposals, said Chris Berens, KDWPT habitat conservation ecologist.

Chickadee Checkoff started in 1980. All funds come from donations made when filing individual tax forms. The donor simply marks the Chickadee Checkoff box on the tax form to make a donation.

"It's all private donations," Berens said.

The funds have been used to benefit non-game species. Former projects include the OWLS project at schools and monitoring bald eagles when they were endangered.

Every year Chickadee Checkoff sets aside $20,000 for projects. In the 33 years since the program started, it has funded hundreds of projects, Berens said.

To help extend the funds, Chickadee Checkoff seeks federal grant money that helps extend available funds from three to four times.

"It (grant money) allows us to do some really good things," Berens said.

A sample project that helped a serious cause was surveying booming grounds for the lesser prairie chicken.

Male lesser prairie chickens gather in certain areas or leks and go though elaborate displays to attract females for mating. They strut around and make a distinctive call in a process called booming.

The Chickadee grant allowed for surveys of these areas in northwestern Kansas. It revealed unknown leks and that information is valuable to help determine if the lesser prairie chicken will be placed on the threatened species list.

"We can help determine if they (lesser prairie chicken) should be listed or not," Berens said.

In general, grant proposals should not exceed $5,000 and should be completed within 12 months. No grant shall receive more than $5,000 in any state fiscal year. Grants can be extended if requested before the end of the grant period. Applicants are expected to pay a portion of the project costs.

"We do require 25 percent of the project cost as a match," Berens said.

Applicants will be notified of acceptance or rejection no later than the end of April. If funds are still available after the application deadline, the application process may be reopened later in the year.

Proposal requirements are: project title, applicant name, objectives, project area, species to benefit from project, procedures, justification, personnel, budget, schedule, promotion of project and program, references cited, appendices, detailed budget sheet and experience/qualifications.

The checkoff program is looking for proposals that meet the needs in the Kansas Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Plan "A Future for Kansas Wildlife."

Those eligible to apply are formally organized clubs and organizations, educational facilities, public schools, college or university faculty, staff and students, industry, other for-profit groups, non-profit organizations, county conservation districts and private individuals may also be eligible to submit proposals, according to grant program guidance.

Applicants can check out www.ksoutdoors.com to view eligibility requirements, how and where to submit proposals, 2013 priority projects list and the grant guidance document.

Applicants can submit proposals by e-mail in word or PDF format to Chris.berens@ksoutdoors.com or send a hard copy to Chickadee Checkoff Small Grants Program Coordinator, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, Ecological Service Section, 512 SE 25th Avenue, Pratt, KS 67124.