Created by the 2014 Farm Bill, the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) is a partner-driven, locally-led approach to conservation. It offers new opportunities for USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to harness innovation, welcome new partners to the conservation mission, and demonstrate the value and efficacy of voluntary, private lands conservation.
In 2016, NRCS is investing up to $220 million in 84 high-impact projects that impact every state in the nation, including one in Montana. Montana's Upper Clark Fork River Drought Resiliency Project will implement major water conservation projects such as piping three leaky canals, constructing six new diversions, doubling the flow in a critical reach of the Clark Fork River, preventing entrainment of native fish, while also addressing the impacts of drought on forest and grazing lands in the upper watershed.
2017 Information 2017 RCPP pre-proposals were due May 10, 2016. Visit Grants.gov to apply.
RCPP Projects in Montana
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.
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.
Funding for RCPP is allocated to projects in three different categories.
- State. For projects in a single state. These receive 25 percent of funding.
- Critical Conservation Areas. For projects in eight geographic areas chosen by Secretary. These receive 35 percent of funding. Parts of Eastern and Central Montana are included in the Prairie Grasslands Region.
- National. For nationwide and multistate projects. These receive 40 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.
Montana's priorities are:
- Water Quality
- Water Quantity
- Wildlife habitat
- Grazingland Health
- Soil Health
- Forest Health
How to Apply
Eligible partners interested in applying should consult the announcement for program funding, which outlines requirements for proposal applications. Deadline for pre-proposals is May 10, 2016. NRCS reviews partnership proposals according to the priorities identified in the announcement and makes project selections. Upon selection of a partnership proposal, NRCS and the partner 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.
Prior-Year RCPP (Archives)