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News Release

USDA Receives 500+ Pre-Proposals New Program to Provide Support for On-the-Ground Conservation Efforts

Erik Suffridge

 Applicants Selected to Submit Full Proposals by Oct. 2

BOZEMAN, Mont., Aug. 4, 2014– USDA’s new Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) drew an overwhelming response from partners across the nation. Of the more than 600 pre-proposals submitted in July, 230 were invited this week to continue the process by submitting full proposals by Oct. 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, six of which were from Montana.  Two partner organizations in Montana have been invited to submit their full proposals.

Montana applicants proposed conservation projects that aim to improve soil health, water quality and water use efficiency, wildlife habitat and other related natural resources on private lands.  The Prairie Grasslands Region received 40 pre-proposals totaling more than $240 million in NRCS funding. 

“The amount of interest in RCPP from Montana groups and across the nation shows a strong commitment to better the quality of our land and water ecosystems,” said Montana State Conservationist Joyce Swartzendruber.  “We met with many groups during the pre-proposal process, and we expect interest in this program to remain strong in the next few years.”

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

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:

To learn about technical and financial assistance available through conservation programs, visit or local USDA service center.