The Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) promotes coordination between NRCS and its partners to deliver conservation assistance to producers and landowners. NRCS provides assistance to producers through partnership agreements and through program contracts or easement agreements.
RCPP combines the authorities of four former conservation programs – the Agricultural Water Enhancement Program, the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Program, the Cooperative Conservation Partnership Initiative and the Great Lakes Basin Program. Assistance is delivered in accordance with the rules of EQIP, CSP, ACEP and HFRP; and in certain areas the Watershed Operations and Flood Prevention Program.
RCPP encourages partners to join in efforts with producers to increase the restoration and sustainable use of soil, water, wildlife and related natural resources on regional or watershed scales.
Through RCPP, NRCS and its partners help producers install and maintain conservation activities in selected project areas. Partners leverage RCPP funding in project areas and report on the benefits achieved. The Secretary of Agriculture may also designate up to eight critical conservation areas to focus RCPP assistance.
Funding for RCPP is allocated to projects in three different categories.
Critical Conservation Areas
For projects in eight geographic areas, including the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. These receive 35 percent of funding. Learn more.
For nationwide and multistate projects. These receive 40 percent of funding. Learn more.
For projects in a single state. These receive 25 percent of funding. Learn more.
Conservation program contracts and easement agreements are implemented through the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP), Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) or the Healthy Forests Reserve Program (HFRP). NRCS may also utilize the authorities under the Watershed and Flood Prevention Program, other than the Watershed Rehabilitation Program, in the designated critical conservation areas.
Maryland's priorities are:
- Water Quality
- Soil Health
- Wetland Restoration and Easements
- Land Easements
- Habitat for Threatened and Endangered Species
- Air Quality
Eligible Partners - Agricultural or silvicultural producer associations, farmer cooperatives or other groups of producers, state or local governments, American Indian tribes, municipal water treatment entities, water and irrigation districts, conservation-driven nongovernmental organizations and institutions of higher education.
Eligible Participants - Under RCPP, eligible producers and landowners of agricultural land and non-industrial private forestland may enter into conservation program contracts or easement agreements under the framework of a partnership agreement. RCPP assistance is also available independent of a partner if the land is located either in a partner project area or in a critical conservation area designated by the Secretary.
How to Apply
NRCS will release an announcement for program funding, that will outline requirements for proposal submissions for funding. NRCS will review partnership proposals according to the priorities identified in the announcement and make project selections. Upon selection of a partnership proposal, NRCS and the partner will enter into a partnership agreement through which they will coordinate to provide producers in the project area assistance. Partnership agreements may be for a period of up to five years. NRCS may extend an agreement one time for an additional 12 months if needed to meet the objectives of the program.
Producers may apply for RCPP assistance in several ways:
- At the producer's request, a partner may submit the application for participation in a selected project area
- Directly at their local USDA Service Center in a selected project area
The partnership agreement defines the scope of the project, including:
- Eligible activities to be implemented
- Potential agricultural or nonindustrial private forest operation affected
- Local, state, multi-state or other geographic area covered
- Planning, outreach, implementation, and assessment to be conducted. Partners are responsible for contributing to the cost of the project, conducting outreach and education to eligible producers for potential participation in the project and for conducting an assessment of the project’s effects. In addition, partners may act on behalf of the eligible landowner or producer in applying for assistance and for leveraging financial or technical assistance provided by NRCS with additional funds to help achieve the project objectives.
Before closing the agreement the partner must provide an assessment of the project costs and conservation effects.
Accelerating Chesapeake Bay Watershed Implementation Plans
Offered in partnership with the Maryland Department of Agriculture, this project addresses animal waste management concerns in the Chesapeake Bay watershed and helps farmers implement practices to avoid winter application of manure. Producers that are interested in waste storage facilities, pumping plants, heavy use areas, and solid/liquid waste separation facilities are encouraged to visit their local USDA Service Center to apply. 2017 applications are due by November 18, 2016.
Ranking Tool (pdf, 86 KB)
Practices and Payment Rates (excel, 92 KB)
Delmarva Whole System Conservation Partnership- Field to Stream
Offered in partnership with the The Nature Conservancy and the Delaware Maryland Agribusiness Association, this project will increase the implementation of advanced nutrient management practices and restoration of wetlands to reduce excess nutrients to the Chesapeake Bay. The project will also use science-based targeting of these practices to increase their effectiveness. Private landowners located in the Blackwater, Choptank, Nanticoke, Pocomoke and Wicomico watersheds that are interested in advanced nutrient management and wetland easements and restoration are encouraged to visit their local USDA Service Center to apply. 2017 applications for RCPP-EQIP are due by November 18, 2016.
Map of Project Area (JPG, 238 KB)
Draft Ranking Tool (pdf, 85 kb)
Draft Screening Tool (pdf, 55 kb)
Mason-Dixon Working Lands Partnership
Offered in partnership with the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, this project builds on USDA’s commitment to improve water quality in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed by taking a whole-farm approach to conservation implementation to address the unique needs of both forest and agricultural land owners. The project is designed to help farmers meet their conservation goals and using incentives to implement riparian forest buffers and stream fencing.
Producers that are interested in riparian forest buffers, forest stand improvement or forest management plans in addition to other conservation practices are encouraged to visit their local USDA Service Center to apply. 2017 applications are due by November 18, 2016.
Map of Project Area (JPG, 251 KB)
Draft Ranking Tool (pdf, 135 kb)
Draft Screening Tool (pdf, 22 kb)
Cerulean Warbler Appalachian Forestland Enhancement
Offered in partnership with the American Bird Conservancy, this project will focus on suites of conservation practices intended to enhance acres of forest habitat on private lands for cerulean warblers, an at-risk species, and associated species by addressing habitat loss, soil health, and water quality. Producers and/or landowners that are interested in enrolling additional acres into easements, and biodiverse the forest are encourage to visit their local USDA Service Center to apply. 2017 applications for RCPP-EQIP are due by November 18, 2016.
Map of Project Area (JPG, 518 KB)
Draft Ranking Tool (pdf, 83 kb)
Draft Screening Tool (pdf, 40 kb)
Comprehensive Watershed Conservation in Dairy and Livestock Landscapes of the Chesapeake Bay
Offered in partnership with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, this project will address both water quality degradation and inadequate habitat for fish and wildlife through a combination of comprehensive conservation planning, conservation practice implementation, and strategic habitat restoration. Producers in Washington County that are interested in waste storage facilities, pumping plants, heavy use areas, and solid/liquid waste separation facilities are encouraged to visit their local USDA Service Center to apply. 2017 applications are due by November 18, 2016.
Map of Project Area (JPG, 563 KB)
Draft Ranking Tool (pdf, 127 kb)
Draft Screening Tool (pdf, 22 kb)
Targeted Conservation Easements
This project works to acquire targeted conservation easement in Western Maryland to protect water quality in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. These practices were originally established though USDA’s Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) and are located within the state’s targeted Rural Legacy Areas. This project is available for Washington and Frederick counties.
Meeting WIP Goals in the Chesapeake Bay
Offered in cooperation with the Maryland Association of Soil Conservation Districts, this project seeks to accelerate the installation of best management practices to enable Maryland farmers to meet the nutrient and sediment water quality goals set forth in the Chesapeake Bay TMDL. It is available to producers in Cecil, Kent, Queen Anne’s, Caroline, Talbot, Dorchester, Wicomico, Somerset and Worcester, Washington, Frederick, Howard and Montgomery counties who are interested in animal waste storage, stream fencing, heavy use areas, liquid separation technology, and advanced nutrient management practices. 2017 applications are due by November 18, 2016.
Draft Ranking Tool (pdf, 76 kb)
Farm Bill Program Specialist (AMA, CSP, RCPP)
RCPP Fact Sheet (PDF, 391KB)
To learn how to get started with NRCS, visit www.nrcs.usda.gov/GetStarted
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