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News Release

USDA Receives Almost 600 Pre-Proposals for New Program to Provide Support for On-the-Ground Conservation Efforts

Contact:
Chris Groskreutz
(706) 546-2069


Release No.: 0000018.14

Applicants Selected to Submit Full Proposals by Oct. 2

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ATHENS, GA August 6, 2014 – USDA’s new Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) drew an overwhelming response from partners across the nation. Of the almost 600 pre-proposals submitted in July, about 230 were invited this week to continue the process by submitting full proposals by October 2, 2014.

“This USDA program provides an entirely new approach to conservation at this scale,” said Jason Weller, chief of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. “RCPP offers a unique opportunity to harness innovation and welcome new partners into the conservation mission. The program puts our partners in the driver’s seat, allowing them to find creative solutions to the conservation issues in their areas.”

RCPP provides a way for private companies, tribes, local communities and non-government partners to collaborate and invest in cleaner water and air, healthier soil and enhanced wildlife habitat. It will enable USDA to partner with third parties or work directly with producers in watersheds and other critical conservation areas to leverage private sector funding to maximize conservation investments.

Applicants from across the nation applied to the program, requesting more than six times the $394 million in available funding. Partners identified the resources they would bring to the table in order to leverage USDA’s investment. Weller said nearly 5,000 partners came together in the pre-proposal phase.

By mid-July, partners had submitted pre-proposals for rigorous evaluation, including 201 for projects related to eight previously-designated critical conservation areas, 60 for multi-state and national-level projects, and 278 for state-level projects, seven of which coming out of Georgia.

Georgia falls in to the Longleaf pine range, one of the eight designated critical conservation areas (CCA). With the CCA designation, USDA will build on existing strong partnerships in the range to improve the profitability and sustainability of longleaf pine forest ecosystems.

NRCS and partners recognize the need to support a range-wide approach that accelerates conservation technical assistance and program delivery to private landowners in the longleaf pine range. Longleaf pine forests once encompassed 90 million acres across the Southeast. The overall goal is to increase the longleaf acreage from 3.4 million to 8 million acres in 15 years, a goal that includes both public and private lands.

Top proposals will show innovation, encourage broad partnerships and bring additional resources for on-the-ground conservation actions.

“The amount of pre-proposals from Georgia and across the nation show a like-minded determination to better the quality of our lands and their ecosystems,” said Georgia State Conservationist Terrance Rudolph. “As the program grows, we expect to see Georgia’s forward-thinking and proposal counts grow with it.”

Today’s announcement was made possible by the 2014 Farm Bill. The Farm Bill builds on historic economic gains in rural America over the past five years, while achieving meaningful reform and billions of dollars in savings for taxpayers. Since enactment, USDA has made significant progress to implement each provision of this critical legislation, including providing disaster relief to farmers and ranchers; strengthening risk management tools; expanding access to rural credit; funding critical research; establishing innovative public-private conservation partnerships; developing new markets for rural-made products; and investing in infrastructure, housing and community facilities to help improve quality of life in rural America. For more information, visit: http://www.usda.gov/farmbill.

To learn about technical and financial assistance available through conservation programs in Georgia, visit http://www.ga.nrcs.usda.gov or your local USDA service center.

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