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2016 RCPP Projects by State

The Regional Conservation Partnership Program gives local organizations opportunities to design and deliver solutions that benefit natural resources where they live and work. Below are the projects by state that were awarded RCPP for FY16.

Alabama Hawaii Massachusetts New Mexico South Dakota
Alaska Idaho Michigan New York Tennessee
Arizona Illinois Minnesota North Carolina Texas
Arkansas Indiana Mississippi North Dakota Utah
California Iowa Missouri Ohio Vermont
Colorado Kansas Montana Oklahoma Virginia
Connecticut Kentucky Nebraska Oregon Washington
Delaware Louisiana Nevada Pennsylvania West Virginia
Florida Maine New Hampshire Rhode Island Wisconsin
Georgia Maryland New Jersey South Carolina Wyoming

 

Alabama

African American Forest Restoration and Retention

  • Proposed NRCS Investment: $1.6 million (CCA)
  • Lead Partner: U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities
  • Number of Partners:  6
  • Participating State(s):  Alabama, North Carolina & South Carolina (lead state)

Through an existing partnership, the Sustainable Forestry and African American Land Retention Program (SFLR), this project will address degraded plant conditions and enhancement of wildlife habitat by supporting forest restoration on African American-owned forestlands in high poverty regions of the Southeastern United States. In this region, African American family-owned forests tend to be degraded due to lack of pro-active forest management. During its 30-month pilot phase, the SFLR program was effective at building a bridge of trust between landowners and USDA programs supporting 157 EQIP applications for forestry practices with more than $1 million in EQIP contracts directed to African American project participants. The project will support landowners through direct provision of forestry, land tenure (heirs’ property) and technical services as well as the brokering of services from other private and government providers including forestry commissions, consulting foresters, extension services and conservation organizations.

 

Coastal Headwaters Longleaf Forest

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $5.1 million (CCA)
  • Lead Partner:  The Conservation Fund
  • Number of Partners:  15
  • Participating State(s):  Alabama

The Coastal Headwaters Forests (CHF) Partnership will address the natural resource concerns of the Longleaf Pine Range in Alabama’s Gulf Coastal Plain. Once stretching across 90 million acres in the Southwest, only four percent of Longleaf pine forests now remain. The CHF Partnership brings partners and resources together to conserve and restore longleaf pine habitat on private lands, as more than 90 percent of forest land in the southeast is in private ownership. This partnership is innovative because it is more than just easements; it will allow producers to conserve, restore and manage large properties permanently for longleaf pine habitat and threatened/endangered species in a way that benefits the economy and environment and create a model for other areas to replicate. By restoring longleaf pine, this project will preserve four major coastal river systems in the Gulf Coast Plain and protect habitat for the threatened gopher tortoise and approximate 600 other species related to longleaf pine habitat.

PDF of Alabama projects 

 

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Alaska

Innovative Tribal Conservation and GHG Management

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $1.8 million (National)
  • Lead Partner:  Intertribal Agriculture Council
  • Number of Partners:  9
  • >Participating State(s):  Alaska, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma & South Dakota (lead state)

As the impacts of climate change become more pronounced in Indian country, Native nations and Indian landowners are faced with the challenge of implementing resource conservation land management systems that incorporate greenhouse gas management activities, also known as carbon farming practices. As greenhouse gas management services gain value in environmental markets, it is vital that historically underserved tribal conservation programs and American Indian farmers and ranchers develop conservation projects that demonstrate causal relationships between soil quality and ecosystem production functions such as carbon sequestration. This project will address the need for conservation stewardship projects on American Indian lands that integrate a carbon farming production possibilities frontier component. The project area will be national in scope covering a diversity of tribal rangeland landscape types including Southwest Alaska, prairie grassland and Colorado River Basin regions. The project includes developing and implementing soil amendment, forestry and grazing management Conservation Activity Plans (CAP) and Conservation Stewardship Plans (CSP) on pilot project sites.  The CAP/CSPs will establish a framework for inventorying the existing baseline carbon sequestration rate and propose cost-effective conservation practices to achieve multiple environmental quality and economic development goals.  One of the anticipated outcomes from this project will be the development of carbon offsets from soil amendment and grazing land and livestock management activities. We will engage private investment in those pilot project sites that both meet investors and credit buyers’ interest in charismatic high-quality carbon offsets, and tribes’ interest in promoting appropriate conservation practices and economic development on Indian lands.

PDF of Alaska projects

 

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Arizona

Fort Huachuca Sentinel Landscape Conservation

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $5.9 million (CCA)
  • Lead Partner:  Arizona Land and Water Trust
  • Number of Partners:  8
  • Participating State(s):  Arizona

Water conservation relating to insufficient supply and drought is a natural resource concern for everyone and especially for those in the arid southwestern U.S. This project will address the resource concerns of insufficient water quantity (drought) as well as inadequate fish and wildlife habitat within the Colorado River CCA. The project area is within the Fort Huachuca Sentinel Landscape and focuses upon the Babocomari River and Sonoita grasslands, which contain large working landscapes with landowners interested in conservation/restoration. It also contains critical habitat for three threatened and endangered species, has high quality and restorable grasslands and many springs and seeps. This partnership will work collaboratively to protect and enhance these resources through the use of conservation easements as well as through education, outreach and increased enrollment in NRCS programs. This will help preserve the areas large working ranches, wildlife habitat, open spaces and rural livelihoods

 

Improving AZ Strip for Wildlife and Cattle

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $900,000 (State)
  • Lead Partner:  Arizona Game and Fish Department
  • Number of Partners:  3
  • Participating State(s):  Arizona

Removing invading woody species such as juniper and sagebrush from historic grasslands will allow native grass and forb species to return to these areas and improve food availability, cover and reduce fragmentation for wildlife, especially for species of concern, which include mule deer, golden eagles and California condors.

PDF of Arizona projects

 

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Arkansas

East Fork Cadron Creek Project

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $1 million (State)
  • Lead Partner:  Faulkner County Conservation District
  • Number of Partners:  7
  • Participating State(s):  Arkansas

The East Fork Cadron Creek watershed is located primarily in Faulkner County but also touches Conway, Cleburne and White counties. The East Fork Cadron drains into the Arkansas River. Resource concerns within the project area are water quality degradation due to excessive nutrients and pesticides in surface and groundwater and also excessive sediment in surface waters. The primary source of contamination is cited as agriculture practices causing siltation and turbidity in the water.

 

Greers Ferry Lake Watershed Project

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $816,000 (CCA)
  • Lead Partner:  The Nature Conservancy
  • Number of Partners:  6
  • Participating State(s):  Arkansas

The upper Little Red River (ULRR) watershed in the Ozark ecoregion of Arkansas supports recreational use, water supply, timber industry, productive land for grazing and contains 57 species of greatest conservation need. Water quality degradation and inadequate habitat for fish and wildlife are concerns within the ULRR watershed and will be addressed in this project through the reduction of erosion, sedimentation and excess nutrient runoff. Conservation practices will be targeted towards addressing these concerns and focus on land that directly impacts streams, riparian land. The Nature Conservancy will implement innovative methods such as ""natural channel design"" stream restoration projects and new ways to approach unpaved road improvements to significantly reduce sedimentation in streams while providing cost-effective, long-term solutions to the producers.

 

West Fork White River Watershed Initiative

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $4.3 million (CCA)
  • Lead Partner:  Watershed Conservation Resource Center
  • Number of Partners:  14
  • Participating State(s):  Arkansas

The West Fork White River (WFWR) is one of six major tributaries to the White River, which forms Beaver Lake, the primary drinking water source in Northwest Arkansas for 420,000 residents. Beaver Lake watershed is a state nonpoint source priority for sediment and nutrient reduction, and the WFWR is one of the largest contributors of sediment and phosphorus loadings. The Watershed Conservation Resource Center will work with several partners and producers/landowners to 1) design, construct, and establish large-scale river restorations through the PL-566 program that address accelerated streambank erosion at identified priority sites and 2) implement BMPs on agricultural and forest lands through EQIP.  These actions should reduce sediment and nutrient loadings to the watershed and prevent the loss of agricultural lands and forest, while improving aquatic and terrestrial habitats. 

PDF of Arkansas projects

 

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California

North Coast Oak Woodland Conservation Project

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $2.6 million (State)
  • Lead Partner:  University of California Cooperative Extension
  • Number of Partners:  9
  • Participating State(s):  California

Throughout the Pacific Northwest, the loss of deciduous oak woodlands has become a critical conservation concern, resulting in associated losses of wildlife habitat, range values, cultural uses, biodiversity and other ecosystem services. This project would provide much-needed cohesion to efforts at a regional scale, complementing significant contributions by local organizations and landowners and providing a venue for shared development of related skills and expertise, best management practices and strategic vision among the many stakeholders working on this issue. Project objectives include increasing habitat continuity and the quantity and quality of food and shelter for wildlife; restoring structural integrity of oak woodland habitats and reducing wildfire risks; increasing the vigor and productivity of oak stands and associated plant communities; and increasing forage and shelter for livestock.

 

Salton Sea Agricultural Wetlands Habitat Program

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $7.5 million (National)
  • Lead Partner:  Salton Sea Authority
  • Number of Partners:  6
  • Participating State(s):  California

This project will help producers and partners improve Salton Sea water quality, improve Imperial and Coachella valley air quality and restore habitat and wetlands. The Salton Sea is a shallow, saline, terminal lake sustained by agricultural discharge principally from the Imperial Valley. The lake provides significant habitat for birds, with an estimated 400 species relying upon the lake, as well as habitat for several state- and federally-listed species. Over the last two decades, Imperial Irrigation District (IID) became a party to agreements, which provide for conservation measures to generate 408,000 AFY (acre feet per year) of water for transfer out of the Imperial Valley for Southern California urban users. Because the lake is sustained largely by agricultural discharges, absent mitigation and restoration, the parties recognized that these transfers would have unacceptable environmental impacts, particularly to the Salton Sea. IID committed to provide mitigation water for 15 years, while California committed to remaining mitigation and restoration. The first restoration projects are ready for implementation.  This project targets conservation assistance to improve the water quality of IID agricultural drains, the New River and the Alamo River, which together will provide the inflows to sustain these first habitat and air quality restoration projects.  By improving the quality of these inflows, this project will fill a pivotal niche in these important Salton Sea restoration projects and will help assure the success of a critical ag-to-urban water transfer.

 

Sierra Valley CPP

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $9.9 million (CCA)
  • Lead Partner:  Feather River Land Trust
  • Number of Partners:  3
  • Participating State(s):  California

The Sierra Valley Conservation Partnership Project (SVCPP) is a collaborative initiative to conserve high quality wildlife habitat and address water quality and groundwater management challenges in Sierra Valley, the largest wetland and mountain meadow complex in the Feather River system and an ecologically rich sub-region of the Bay Delta. Sierra Valley supports the greatest diversity and abundance of birds in the Sierra Nevada and provides breeding habitat for more than 17 rare or threatened bird species. Sierra Valley is also a ""priority"" groundwater basin for California supplying drinking water to over 1.6 million Californians each year. The SVCPP will create a formal working partnership between NRCS and one of the most successful landscape-scale conservation initiatives underway in California today, enabling NRCS to leverage its resources to achieve results completely unimaginable absent the partnership.  The SVCPP will bring significant new financial and human resources to the table, more than doubling NRCS's investment and enabling NRCS better serve the resource conservation needs of landowners in this critical upper watershed of the California Bay Delta CCA.

 

SONEC Working Wet Meadows Initiative

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $2.6 million (National)
  • Lead Partner:  Intermountain West Joint Venture
  • Number of Partners:  12
  • Participating State(s):  California & Oregon (lead state)

The Southern Oregon-Northeastern California (SONEC) region is one of the most important areas for migratory waterbirds in North America, supporting approximately 70% of the Pacific Flyway’s wetland-dependent migratory bird population (>six million birds). These birds are attracted to SONEC because of the food resources provided by privately owned, flood-irrigated wet meadow habitats on working ranchlands within historic floodplains. However, these habitats are increasingly threatened by changing irrigation practices, aging water conveyance infrastructure and fragmentation. To address at risk species habitat, water quantity and drought resource concerns, this project will strategically utilize Farm Bill programs and partner contributions to conserve nearly 25,000 acres of wet meadow habitats and improve the resiliency of working ranchlands to drought. Specifically, the project will improve the sustainability of wet meadows for migratory birds by: enhancing infrastructure and improving the efficiency of flood-irrigation on critical wet meadows; acquiring conservation easements to remove fragmentation risk; and enhancing important foraging habitat for wetland-dependent migratory birds.

 

Sonoma County Venture Conservation

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $8.0 million (National)
  • Lead Partner:  Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District
  • Number of Partners:  15
  • Participating State(s):  California

Due to severe drought in California, protection of agricultural lands and ecosystems for climate and drought resiliency is a high priority for partners in Sonoma County, California. This project is focused on four resource concerns: insufficient water, water quality degradation, soil quality degradation and inadequate habitat for fish and wildlife. The strategy for drought and climate resiliency involves using cutting edge science – such as LIDAR, downscaled climate modeling, atmospheric river modeling, habitat and species mapping and countywide GIS based spatial decision support systems – to inform our conservation vision, conservation plans and effectiveness monitoring. The project will leverage funds for natural resource enhancements utilizing practices, which avoid the need for regulatory requirements and increase regulatory certainty for landowners. Conservation activities will focus: on layering multiple practices in key riparian corridors, groundwater basins and floodplains in Sonoma County; acquiring easements; developing landowner plans; and implementing riparian corridor restoration, water conservation measures and floodplain enhancements to achieve sustainable water quality and quantity, soil health and functional ecosystems. Sonoma County sits at the nexus of the rapidly urbanizing San Francisco Bay Area and the rural North Coast of California. Conserving the rural heritage, agricultural economy and natural ecosystems is increasingly challenging given the pressure to convert natural and working lands to residential development, and conversion of these landscapes will only exacerbate impacts from drought and climate change.

 

Yurok Traditional Landscape Management Plan

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $2.2 million (State)
  • Lead Partner:  Yurok Tribe
  • Number of Partners:  4
  • Participating State(s):  California

Located in northern coastal California, the Yurok Reservation starts near the confluence of the Trinity and Klamath rivers and follows the Klamath River until it empties into the Pacific Ocean. The Yurok Tribe is proposing a unique land management model that will combine existing management documents into a culturally based, comprehensive, overarching guidance document with the goal of widespread sub-basin restoration. The basis of the model will combine cultural resource priorities, forest management plans, Aquatic Habitat Conservation Plans, carbon sequestration goals and watershed restoration plans into a tool to restore the health of forested lands, increase carbon production, improve long term air quality and create habitat for aquatic and terrestrial populations that rely on habitats within this sub-basin. Plan development, training and the implementation of traditional strategies will result in greater species diversity, improvement to aquatic and terrestrial habitats and lessen the risk to the region of catastrophic fire events.

PDF of California projects

 

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Colorado

Agate Prairie Conservation Legacy

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $2.4 million (State)
  • Lead Partner:  Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust
  • Number of Partners:  4
  • Participating State(s):  Colorado

The Agate Prairie Conservation Legacy represents a unique opportunity to build upon previous conservation investments in a dynamic landscape located less than 45 minutes from Denver. To date, approximately 60,000 acres of private land has been permanently protected in and around the Town of Agate. A majority of this protected land is comprised of native prairie grasslands, which provides essential habitat for several threatened species and species of special significance including the burrowing owl, swift fox and mountain plover. Prairie grasslands are also critical to the overall health and functionality of watersheds. With this project, partners will permanently protect an additional 30,000 acres of grassland prairie located in northwestern Elbert County through the acquisition of three conservation easements. Partners will work with the Bird Conservancy of the Rockies to conduct bird surveys on the property as an indication of rangeland health, which will be used to direct future habitat and rangeland improvement projects.

 

Colorado Dairy and Irrigation Efficiency Program

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $1.1 million (State)
  • Lead Partner:  Colorado Energy Office (CEO)
  • Number of Partners:  8
  • Participating State(s):  Colorado

In 2014, CEO, along with several partners, launched the Colorado Dairy and Irrigation Efficiency Pilot. Overcoming barriers to investment in energy efficiency, CEO’s eight pilot dairies are estimated to save nearly 3,000 MMBtu and 742,859 pounds of GHGs annually. Building on the success of the pilot, CEO launched a statewide program in 2015, aimed at reducing energy use. RCPP financial assistance funds will provide an estimated 60% of the cost of improvements up to $24,000 for 48 of the 160 participating producers. CEO will provide participating producers with on farm energy audits and assist them in selecting and implementing cost effective improvements that reduce energy use, water, environmental impacts and producer operating costs. They will also monitor individual producer and overall program progress and track and report on improvements, energy and cost savings and GHG reductions. CEO will work with its partners to develop SMART goals that will include an annual reduction of 3.5 million kWh and 350 thousand gallons of water.

 

Greater Outcomes for Greater Sage-Grouse

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $1.9 million (National)
  • Lead Partner:  Partners for Western Conservation
  • Number of Partners:  6
  • Participating State(s):  Colorado (lead state) & Nevada

Western States are gripped by a common need to improve sagebrush habitat and protect against its future loss. This regional partnership brings together Nevada and Colorado, who are actively investing in habitat improvements on private lands with the desire to demonstrate the effectiveness of actions to taxpayers and federal agencies. The project will: 1) Enhance and protect rangeland for greater sage-grouse, and increase conservation outcomes generated by incorporating a habitat quantification approach in project selection and design, and building capacity of project support partners to implement habitat quantification approach; 2) Increase outcomes over time by adaptively managing habitat quantification tools; and 3) Increase transparency and demand for results from public investments by reporting outcomes generated by partner and RCPP funds invested online. State, EQIP and CSP funds will create “credit-ready” projects per the specifications of the Nevada Conservation Credit System and Colorado Habitat Exchange, and private funds will be leveraged to cover long-term stewardship of the improved project sites. This project addresses the issue of stacking credit payments to ensure that EQIP and CSP funds are not be used to offset impacts that require compensatory mitigation and investigates innovative mechanisms for partnering public and private funds to create revolving funds.

PDF of Colorado projects

 

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Connecticut

Path to Reduce Pathogens in CT Agricultural Runoff

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $669,000 (State)
  • Lead Partner:  University of Connecticut
  • Number of Partners:  4
  • Participating State(s):  Connecticut

Bacteria levels in Connecticut’s rivers and shellfish beds are unacceptably high. This is, in part, caused by agricultural runoff. To address the degradation of soil and water from agricultural operations, University of Connecticut will enlist partners and apply technical and financial assistance for the following objectives: 1) develop conservation partnerships focused on reducing pathogens associated with agricultural activities; 2) Use multi-tiered bacterial source tracking techniques to identify and target critical areas for treatment approaches; 3) use multi-tiered bacterial source tracking techniques to identify and target critical areas for treatment approaches; and 4) determine the opportunities for and barriers to producers and landowners in adopting pathogen conservation practices and evaluate the potential success of the project. Potential conservation practices to reduce pathogens will include composting, nutrient management, residue and tillage management, cover crops, fencing, buffers and filter strips, vegetated treatment areas and wetlands. 

 

The Young Forest Initiative for At-Risk Species

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $5.2 million (National)
  • Lead Partner:  Wildlife Management Institute
  • Number of Partners:  12
  • Participating State(s):  Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire (lead state), New York, Rhode Island & Vermont

This project will help increase technical and financial assistance to non-industrial private forestland owners who implement practices outlined in the Environmental Quality Incentives Program that result in an increase in the quantity and quality of young forest habitats. This support is critical, since young forest habitat is necessary to meet the critical needs of several recognized at-risk species.

PDF of Connecticut projects

 

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Delaware

Assisting Beginning Farmers with Poultry HQ BMPs

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $1 million (State)
  • Lead Partner:  Sussex Conservation District
  • Number of Partners:  8
  • Participating State(s):  Delaware

There is a backlog of beginning farmers waiting for approval for composters or mortality freezers, poultry waste structures and heavy use area protections. Over the past two years, approximately 125 new poultry houses have been constructed in Sussex County with another 228 planned over the next two years. With the high concentration of poultry operations, comes the potential for high nitrogen and phosphorus levels in the soil, which may potentially leach into the groundwater and run off into surface water. This is exacerbated with the sandy soils, high water tables and 46 inches of average rainfall each year. These beginning farmers are also faced with increased startup costs with the new Delaware Stormwater Regulations. Construction costs have increased with the required engineering, permitting and the installation of mandatory BMPs to be in compliance with the Delaware regulations. This project will increase the opportunity for beginning farmers in Sussex County to receive funds for composters or freezers through an expedited process.

 

DE & MD – Meeting WIP Goals in the Chesapeake Bay

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $4.5 million (CCA)
  • Lead Partner:  Maryland Association of Soil Conservation Districts
  • Number of Partners:  15
  • Participating State(s):  Delaware & Maryland (lead state)

Partners will come together in this project to accelerate the installation of best management practices to enable Maryland and Delaware farmers to meet the nutrient and sediment water quality goals set forth in the Chesapeake Bay TMDL. In Maryland, the focus will be on animal related BMPs, including animal waste storage, stream fencing, heavy use areas and barnyard runoff. To meet Maryland’s new Phosphorus Management Tool requirements, conservation district staff will work with dairy farmers to install state-of-the-art liquid separation technology to overcome the cost of moving the liquid portion of manure long distances to crop fields that require more phosphorus. In Delaware, emphasis will be on crop production and expanded use of cover crops. On the Delmarva Peninsula, crop farmers will be advised on the recent research finding on innovative variable rate nitrogen application techniques (GreenSeeker) and be encouraged to sign up for advanced nutrient management practices. Conservation district staff will be trained on nitrogen removal woodchip bioreactors, which are showing up to 90% Nitrogen removal on trial sites.

PDF of Delaware projects

 

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Florida

Everglades Headwaters Longleaf Pine

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $3.7 million (CCA)
  • Lead Partner:  The Nature Conservancy - Florida
  • Number of Partners:  5
  • Participating State(s):  Florida

The Everglades Headwaters holds one of the most important collections of imperiled vertebrate wildlife in Florida and supports significant rare/endemic habitats such as the longleaf pine-dominated flatwoods and dry prairie. The project area encompasses 15,000 acres of longleaf as part of a mosaic of other habitats and agricultural uses. These habitats are an integral part of the "working watershed" of the Everglades by receiving, storing, filtering and slowly releasing rainfall to numerous creeks, and ultimately rivers, that flow toward Lake Okeechobee. This project will allow for continued productive agriculture (i.e., cattle grazing) and will help ensure the continued ecological integrity, function and promotion of water quality and quantity within this vital landscape and watershed.

 

Training Florida's Natural Resource Managers

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $1 million (State)
  • Lead Partner:  Florida Forest Service
  • Number of Partners:  4
  • Participating State(s):  Florida

Project partners will train both public sector and private sector natural resource managers to enhance private forestland management in Florida. NCRS will provide financial assistance to landowners and the Florida Forest Service to increase the capacity of resource managers to offer technical assistance to the 400,000 forest landowners in Florida. Resource concerns to be addressed include inadequate habitat for fish and wildlife, plant and animal health, insufficient water, soil health, and water quality degradation on the ten million acres of private forestland in Florida. Results will be demonstrated by monitoring the increase in forest management plans and practices implemented using Farm Bill programs. This project will provide technical assistance to private forest owners to increase the number of landowners with conservation and forest stewardship plans, encourage Farm Bill program participation, inform landowners of longleaf pine management options and increase participation in forest certification programs.

 

Working Lands for Florida Panther Conservation

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $630,000 (State)
  • Lead Partner:  Florida Fish & Wildlife Cons. Comm.
  • Number of Partners:  8
  • Participating State(s):  Florida

The Florida Panther Focus Area includes areas of south and central Florida identified by the USFWS as essential to maintaining a viable Florida panther population and facilitating the natural expansion of this population north of the Calooshatchee River. Approximately 29% of the area is under private ownership and includes working ranchlands that provide important panther habitat and are critical for existing and future panther recovery efforts.  However, as the Florida panther’s range expands and population density increases on private lands, an increase in depredation events on commercial cattle operations within the focus area has become a threat that could undermine previous collaborative efforts in the protection and recovery of the species. The economic losses sustained by cow-calf operations due to panther depredations, in combination with the costs associated with habitat management, act as a disincentive to landowners to manage their ranches for panthers and their primary prey species, white-tailed deer. Whereas the FSA and Conservancy of Southwest Florida have direct compensation programs that assist with livestock loss, and NRCS and USFWS incentive programs assist with habitat management, they are not designed to provide funding on a large scale across a targeted landscape. Achieving Florida panther recovery goals will be augmented through this project; which appeals to owners who have large acreages, diverse habitat types, and varied land uses.

PDF of Florida projects

 

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Georgia

Southern Sentinel Landscapes Conservation

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $7.5 million (National)
  • Lead Partner:  U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities
  • Number of Partners:  20
  • Participating State(s):  Georgia (lead state), Mississippi & North Carolina

This project will protect and restore 17,500 – 21,500 acres of longleaf and other working forest habitats on private lands important for at-risk species. The goal of this multistate effort – Mississippi, Georgia and North Carolina - is to reduce the likelihood that target species will be listed under the Endangered Species Act and to demonstrate the compatibility of working lands management with at-risk species conservation.  These sites and species address shared conservation interests of the Departments of Agriculture, Defense, and Interior on proposed or potential Sentinel Landscapes. The proposed project advances goals of the Range-wide Conservation Plan for Longleaf Pine, the NRCS Longleaf Pine Initiative, and each state’s Forest and Wildlife Action Plans, while also contributing to military installation compatible-use buffers. By focusing on the overlapping interests of three federal Departments, this proposal delivers more measurable benefits to At-Risk Species than if the agencies followed separate paths.  This proposal builds on the RCPP award the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities received in 2014.

 

Wetlands and Wildlife for Georgia Watersheds

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $802,000 (State)
  • Lead Partner:  The Nature Conservancy - Georgia
  • Number of Partners:  8
  • Participating State(s):  Georgia

This project will serve two of Georgia’s important watersheds in which agricultural and timber producers own significant acreage, and in which natural resource concerns are of great conservation interest. Degraded or drained wetlands, habitat alteration and non-point source pollution threaten native wildlife resources and a broader wetland and pineland ecosystem of the Suwannee River whose natural fire and flood patterns have been altered. NRCS funding will be used to incentivize key producers to protect and restore the most critical wetlands areas and provide models for other producers to emulate.

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Hawaii

Continuing Proposal: Hawaii's Watershed Initiative

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $638,000 (State)
  • Lead Partner:  State of Hawaii, Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR)
  • Number of Partners:  6
  • Participating State(s):  Hawaii

The Department of Land and Natural Resources' (DLNR) top priority is to protect Hawaii's forests watersheds― the islands' fresh water source. Protecting forests improves the water quality of nearby streams and lakes, reduces soil erosion and agricultural fertilizer runoff into streams and coral reefs, and provides habitat for nearly 317 threatened and endangered species. This project will build off of last year’s RCPP project by protecting even more forest watersheds. Main goals are to control invasive species― the main threat to forest watersheds, erect fencing to exclude non-native hoofed animals (ungulates), plant trees to provide forest sustainability and diverse habitat and monitor progress.

PDF of Hawaii projects

 

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Idaho

Farmer's Cooperative Ditch Company Project

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $500,000 (State)
  • Lead Partner:  Farmer’s Cooperative Ditch Company
  • Number of Partners:  7
  • Participating State(s):  Idaho

Partners will address the excessive amount of sediment and nutrients in the irrigation water, reduce water usage/ improve delivery, improve soil health and provide wildlife habitat for migratory birds. A communication plan will portray the objectives and goals of the project, and will consist of two bi-annual meetings, direct mailings, field demonstrations, workshops, Internet communications and individual one-on-one contacts.   The plan will concentrate on environmental awareness, strive to increase the number of conservation practices implemented and show transparency for funds expended.

 

Greater Spokane River Watershed Implementation

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $7.7 million (National)
  • Lead Partner:  Spokane Conservation District
  • Number of Partners:  21
  • Participating State(s):  Idaho & Washington (lead state)

Significant sources of sediments and nutrients are carried to the Spokane River watershed by its larger tributaries, and low dissolved oxygen levels and algae blooms threaten aquatic life in the Spokane River, Lake Spokane and Coeur d'Alene Lake. Reducing nutrients is key to resolving water quality degradation throughout the Greater Spokane River Bi-State Watershed. TMDL and lake management implementation plans stress the need to address agriculture and forestry within these watersheds. This project supports regional momentum towards adoption of conservation tillage operations and best management practices. Tens of thousands of agricultural and forestry acres, including a tribal farm, will benefit through voluntary NRCS programs. Wildlife and fish habitat will be protected and long-term easements will be developed for several forest and wetland acquisitions. In addition, this project will introduce a new program that involves using the Risk Management Insurance models to compensate producers for the loss of productive land entered into vegetative buffers. This new commodity buffer program is designed to bridge the financial gap in current cost-share programs and encourage producers to cooperatively implement these practices on their farms. Project success will be evaluated by extensive watershed based field monitoring to track improvements in water, soil and habitat.

 

High Desert Drought Resilient Ranching

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $1.3 million (National)
  • Lead Partner:  Trout Unlimited
  • Number of Partners:  17
  • Participating State(s):  Idaho (lead state), Nevada & Oregon

Nevada, Idaho and Oregon ranchers have experienced a severe drought for the majority of years in the last 30-year cycle. This project will help reduce drought impacts to wildlife and livestock in the Owyhee watershed and adjacent communities in two lesser watersheds, which have been historically underserved. Project partners will work together to develop on-the-ground projects that keep water in streams longer for both livestock and wildlife. Project area selection will emphasize state and private land that currently provides habitat for three focal species: redband trout, greater sage- grouse and Columbia spotted frogs or is adjacent to known populations and has the capacity to restore habitat for these species.

PDF of Idaho projects

 

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Illinois

Improving Oak - Hickory Forest Health in Illinois

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $2.3 million (State)
  • Lead Partner:  Illinois Forestry Development Council
  • Number of Partners:  13
  • Participating State(s):  Illinois

The Illinois Forestry Partnership will address the decline of trees species diversity, specifically the lack of oak regeneration, in Illinois forests. The oak-hickory forest type has been reduced by 16% since 1962 and this reduction will continue if oaks remain underrepresented in the younger age classes. This decline is the result of fire suppression; impacts of exotic/invasive herbs, shrubs, vines and trees; and a lack of applied management strategies to address soil health, water quality, and soil erosion resource concerns on nonindustrial private forest land to restore the appropriate forest cover in the oak-hickory ecosystem. The project will focus on four target areas, covering 37 counties in the State and representing 1.1 million acres of oak-hickory forest type, about half of the remaining ecosystem. 

 

Improving Working Lands for Monarch Butterflies

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $6 million (National)
  • Lead Partner:  National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
  • Number of Partners:  12
  • Participating State(s):  Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas (lead state) & Wisconsin

Our partnership will restore, manage and conserve wildlife habitat for monarch butterflies on agricultural and tribal lands using four main strategies: conservation planning and assessment; habitat improvement and best management practices; building an adequate seed supply for milkweed and nectar plants; and, enhancing organizational coordination and capacity. To provide the greatest conservation outcomes, the project will focus work within two NRCS Critical Conservation Areas: Prairie Grasslands Region and Mississippi River Basin. Targeted areas will be identified through a US Geological Survey-led initiative examining fine-scale opportunities for the restoration of milkweed and other pollinator plants. This project will contribute to national goals in terms of habitat and increase the number of monarch butterflies. This in turn will represent the best opportunity to avoid future regulations related to monarch butterflies from being imposed on farmers and ranchers in the future.

 

Midwest Agriculture Water Quality Partnership

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $9.5 million (National)
  • Lead Partner:  Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship
  • Number of Partners:  40
  • Participating State(s):  Illinois, Iowa (lead state) & Nebraska

The Midwest Agriculture Water Quality Partnership has assembled over forty partners and $38 Million in non-federal funds to build an innovative public-private collaboration aimed at advancing a science-based, non-regulatory approach to reducing nutrient loss and improving water quality, soil health and habitat for at-risk species. The partnership has brought together diverse stakeholders from multiple sectors committed to improving water quality in alignment with the goals of the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy. The geographic focus is Iowa, Illinois and Nebraska, with an emphasis on priority watersheds within Iowa. This proposal seeks to improve water quality through building bridges among the public, private, agriculture and environmental sectors and rural, urban, point source and non-point source communities as well as all segments of the agricultural supply chain to foster greater collaboration, improved coordination, increased alignment and more effective conservation delivery. This proposal merges traditional approaches to deliver conservation through scaling up conservation planning and conservation practices with a non-traditional, highly innovative precision agriculture platform integration component that will lead to greater practice adoption and improved conservation outcomes.

 

Precision Conservation Management

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $5.3 million (CCA)
  • Lead Partner:  Illinois Corn Growers Association
  • Number of Partners:  30
  • Participating State(s):  Illinois (lead state), Iowa & Kentucky

The Precision Conservation Management program (PCM) is an innovative service program designed to apply hard-nosed financial farm business planning with precision conservation technology to provide a blueprint for conservation decision-making. The goal of PCM is to integrate conservation into the foundational farm management of commodity crop operations. PCM will provide financial impact analysis of conservation practices, technical assistance from trained conservation specialists, supplemental privately-funded financial assistance, data-rich assessment tools to guide producers through NRCS program options, and precision conservation technology to enhance effectiveness and minimize risk associated with conservation practices. PCM is dedicated to helping make the Conservation Stewardship Program the flagship program for producers seeking environmental performance linked to economic sustainability. PCM’s founding mission is to use farmer data to serve farmers’ interests with specific emphasis on conservation adoption.  Upon enrolling in PCM, cooperators create a farm profile using PCM’s Farmer Portal, a web interface that quickly, accurately, and securely collects farm data to create a field-by-field inventory of detailed agronomic management practices. After creating farm profiles, PCM specialists offer cooperators a privately-funded incentive to conduct a Resource Analysis and Assessment Plan (RAAP), assessing farm sustainability and identifying natural resource concerns.  Using the RAAP, PCM specialists guide cooperators through NRCS program options with a long-term goal of preparing them for the CSP.  Finally, cooperators utilize the Conservation Client Gateway to apply for NRCS programs.  PCM will succeed in increasing conservation adoption because it approaches conservation from the perspective of the Midwest farmer – protecting business interests while implementing conservation practices that benefit the environment and local communities.

PDF of Illinois projects

 

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Indiana

Big Pine Watershed Partnership

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $1.8 million (National)
  • Lead Partner:  The Nature Conservancy
  • Number of Partners:  4
  • Participating State(s):  Indiana

The Big Pine watershed, located in west-central Indiana, is a tributary of the Wabash River and part of the Mississippi River drainage. The Big Pine Watershed Partnership will engage the power of the supply chain and the trust of agronomy retailers to further conservation in Indiana’s Big Pine watershed through the targeted implementation of nutrient and sediment reducing practices to achieve watershed water quality objectives. Agronomists and crop advisors will engage growers to adopt EQIP and CSP practices that can improve nutrient efficiency, soil health and water quality. Partners will help target grower engagement and practice enrollment to locations most likely to produce greatest conservation return (tons of sediment or pounds of nutrients retained per EQIP/CSP dollar spent). The project partners will also work to streamline grower screening and enrollment for EQIP/CSP participation through the use of precision agronomic tools. This information will be used in the Fieldprint Calculator to help quantify environmental outcomes resulting from implemented actions. The partnership’s goal is to deliver an additional 8,000 acres of cover crops, 10,100 acres of nutrient management and 4,850 acres of CSP. Both practices and acreage targets will greatly accelerate progress towards long-term Best Management Practice targets identified in the recently completed Big Pine Creek and Mud Pine Creek Watershed Management Plan.

 

Improving Working Lands for Monarch Butterflies

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $6 million (National)
  • Lead Partner:  National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
  • Number of Partners:  12
  • Participating State(s):  Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas (lead state) & Wisconsin

Our partnership will restore, manage and conserve wildlife habitat for monarch butterflies on agricultural and tribal lands using four main strategies: conservation planning and assessment; habitat improvement and best management practices; building an adequate seed supply for milkweed and nectar plants; and, enhancing organizational coordination and capacity. To provide the greatest conservation outcomes, the project will focus work within two NRCS Critical Conservation Areas: Prairie Grasslands Region and Mississippi River Basin. Targeted areas will be identified through a US Geological Survey-led initiative examining fine-scale opportunities for the restoration of milkweed and other pollinator plants. This project will contribute to national goals in terms of habitat and increase the number of monarch butterflies. This in turn will represent the best opportunity to avoid future regulations related to monarch butterflies from being imposed on farmers and ranchers in the future.

 

Soil Health on Reclaimed Mine Lands

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $885,000 (State)
  • Lead Partner:  Knox County SWCD
  • Number of Partners:  13
  • Participating State(s):  Indiana

Partners will work with farmers, landowners and mine operators to implement a suite of soil health practices on reclaimed mine lands in order to improve the health of the soil, reduce the amount of sediment laden runoff reaching streams and rivers and improve wildlife habitat. The project will focus on the roughly 175,000 acres of reclaimed mine lands that are cropped in the Indiana counties of Vigo, Clay, Sullivan, Greene, Knox, Daviess, Gibson, Pike, Dubois, Warrick and Spencer.

PDF of Indiana projects

 

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Iowa

Honey Bee and Monarch Butterfly Partnership

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $8.3 million (CCA)
  • Lead Partner:  Pheasants Forever, Inc.
  • Number of Partners:  5
  • Participating State(s):  Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska (lead state), North Dakota & South Dakota

Project partners will implement 2,900 EQIP projects on 14,500-acres within the Prairie Grasslands Critical Conservation Areas of Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota and will address inadequate habitat for fish and wildlife natural resource concerns to improve habitat conditions for honey bees and monarch butterflies. Those concerns will be addressed by working to establish high quality habitat projects with landowners on croplands in the area using innovative strategies that directly connect beekeepers, landowners, honey bees, monarch butterflies and high quality habitat.

 

Improving Working Lands for Monarch Butterflies

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $6 million (National)
  • Lead Partner:  National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
  • Number of Partners:  12
  • Participating State(s):  Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas (lead state) & Wisconsin

Our partnership will restore, manage and conserve wildlife habitat for monarch butterflies on agricultural and tribal lands using four main strategies: conservation planning and assessment; habitat improvement and best management practices; building an adequate seed supply for milkweed and nectar plants; and, enhancing organizational coordination and capacity. To provide the greatest conservation outcomes, the project will focus work within two NRCS Critical Conservation Areas: Prairie Grasslands Region and Mississippi River Basin. Targeted areas will be identified through a US Geological Survey-led initiative examining fine-scale opportunities for the restoration of milkweed and other pollinator plants. This project will contribute to national goals in terms of habitat and increase the number of monarch butterflies. This in turn will represent the best opportunity to avoid future regulations related to monarch butterflies from being imposed on farmers and ranchers in the future.

 

Midwest Agriculture Water Quality Partnership

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $9.5 million (National)
  • Lead Partner:  Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship
  • Number of Partners:  40
  • Participating State(s):  Illinois, Iowa (lead state) & Nebraska

The Midwest Agriculture Water Quality Partnership has assembled over forty partners and $38 Million in non-federal funds to build an innovative public-private collaboration aimed at advancing a science-based, non-regulatory approach to reducing nutrient loss and improving water quality, soil health and habitat for at-risk species. The partnership has brought together diverse stakeholders from multiple sectors committed to improving water quality in alignment with the goals of the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy. The geographic focus is Iowa, Illinois and Nebraska, with an emphasis on priority watersheds within Iowa. This proposal seeks to improve water quality through building bridges among the public, private, agriculture and environmental sectors and rural, urban, point source and non-point source communities as well as all segments of the agricultural supply chain to foster greater collaboration, improved coordination, increased alignment and more effective conservation delivery. This proposal merges traditional approaches to deliver conservation through scaling up conservation planning and conservation practices with a non-traditional, highly innovative precision agriculture platform integration component that will lead to greater practice adoption and improved conservation outcomes.

 

Precision Conservation Management

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $5.3 million (CCA)
  • Lead Partner:  Illinois Corn Growers Association
  • Number of Partners:  30
  • Participating State(s):  Illinois (lead state), Iowa & Kentucky

The Precision Conservation Management program (PCM) is an innovative service program designed to apply hard-nosed financial farm business planning with precision conservation technology to provide a blueprint for conservation decision-making. The goal of PCM is to integrate conservation into the foundational farm management of commodity crop operations. PCM will provide financial impact analysis of conservation practices, technical assistance from trained conservation specialists, supplemental privately-funded financial assistance, data-rich assessment tools to guide producers through NRCS program options, and precision conservation technology to enhance effectiveness and minimize risk associated with conservation practices. PCM is dedicated to helping make the Conservation Stewardship Program the flagship program for producers seeking environmental performance linked to economic sustainability. PCM’s founding mission is to use farmer data to serve farmers’ interests with specific emphasis on conservation adoption.  Upon enrolling in PCM, cooperators create a farm profile using PCM’s Farmer Portal, a web interface that quickly, accurately, and securely collects farm data to create a field-by-field inventory of detailed agronomic management practices. After creating farm profiles, PCM specialists offer cooperators a privately-funded incentive to conduct a Resource Analysis and Assessment Plan (RAAP), assessing farm sustainability and identifying natural resource concerns.  Using the RAAP, PCM specialists guide cooperators through NRCS program options with a long-term goal of preparing them for the CSP.  Finally, cooperators utilize the Conservation Client Gateway to apply for NRCS programs.  PCM will succeed in increasing conservation adoption because it approaches conservation from the perspective of the Midwest farmer – protecting business interests while implementing conservation practices that benefit the environment and local communities.

 

Upper Cedar Watershed Urban-Rural Partnership

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $1.6 million (State)
  • Lead Partner:  City of Charles City
  • Number of Partners:  14
  • Participating State(s):  Iowa

The Urban-Rural Partnership proposes to leverage existing efforts in the Rock Creek Watershed, where a Farmer Advisory Board is working with local partners to advance practice implementation according to goals set in the Rock Creek Watershed Management Plan.  The project will implement conservation practices such as cover crops, bioreactors, and saturated buffers and will also conduct outreach activities through partners to increase adoption of practices.

PDF of Iowa projects

 

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Kansas

Improving Working Lands for Monarch Butterflies

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $6 million (National)
  • Lead Partner:  National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
  • Number of Partners:  12
  • Participating State(s):  Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas (lead state) & Wisconsin

Our partnership will restore, manage and conserve wildlife habitat for monarch butterflies on agricultural and tribal lands using four main strategies: conservation planning and assessment; habitat improvement and best management practices; building an adequate seed supply for milkweed and nectar plants; and, enhancing organizational coordination and capacity. To provide the greatest conservation outcomes, the project will focus work within two NRCS Critical Conservation Areas: Prairie Grasslands Region and Mississippi River Basin. Targeted areas will be identified through a US Geological Survey-led initiative examining fine-scale opportunities for the restoration of milkweed and other pollinator plants. This project will contribute to national goals in terms of habitat and increase the number of monarch butterflies. This in turn will represent the best opportunity to avoid future regulations related to monarch butterflies from being imposed on farmers and ranchers in the future.

 

Native Grazing Lands Protection in the Plains

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $3.6 million (National)
  • Lead Partner:  The Nature Conservancy
  • Number of Partners:  7
  • Participating State(s):  Kansas (lead state) & Oklahoma

Native grasslands of the central Great Plains are some of the most majestic yet least conserved landscapes in North America. The project area for this proposed effort encompasses the most intact native grazing lands remaining in Kansas and Oklahoma, which provide critical habitat for a number of rare and sensitive species, including the lesser prairie-chicken.  By applying conservation easements and practices on native grazing lands, this project aims to prevent habitat fragmentation and conversion to non-grazing uses, improve wildlife habitat and reduce the spread of invasive species. One innovative component of this proposal will include working with Kansas State University to better quantify the changes in stream base flows following eastern red cedar removal in adjacent riparian areas and uplands. It is anticipated that approximately 12,000 acres of grazing lands will be protected via conservation easements and EQIP conservation practices will be delivered on over 40,000 acres.

PDF of Kansas projects

 

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Kentucky

Overgrazing and Soil Degradation on Horse Farms

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $476,000 (State)
  • Lead Partner:  University of Kentucky
  • Number of Partners:  9
  • Participating State(s):  Kentucky

While Kentucky is known for its iconic horse farms and rolling pastures, it is estimated that small to medium sized horse farms occupy over 750,000 of land in the state. Pastures on these farms are often overgrazed and the land base is poorly managed due to the lack of agricultural experience of many horse farm owners. The objective of this project is to implement improved pasture management practices on 25 small to medium sized EQIP eligible horse farms in Kentucky. First, three farms will be identified as demonstration farms and we will work with NRCS to incorporate a broad range of approved practices. These farms will be monitored throughout the four-year project for pasture cover and productivity, soil health, water quality and the successful implementation of other practices. Field days on the demonstration farms will help NRCS staff sign up the 25 farms and will show many small horse farms owners in KY and surrounding states the benefits that improved pasture and farm management have for the environment and their horses.

 

Precision Conservation Management

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $5.3 million (CCA)
  • Lead Partner:  Illinois Corn Growers Association
  • Number of Partners:  30
  • Participating State(s):  Illinois (lead state), Iowa & Kentucky

The Precision Conservation Management program (PCM) is an innovative service program designed to apply hard-nosed financial farm business planning with precision conservation technology to provide a blueprint for conservation decision-making. The goal of PCM is to integrate conservation into the foundational farm management of commodity crop operations. PCM will provide financial impact analysis of conservation practices, technical assistance from trained conservation specialists, supplemental privately-funded financial assistance, data-rich assessment tools to guide producers through NRCS program options, and precision conservation technology to enhance effectiveness and minimize risk associated with conservation practices. PCM is dedicated to helping make the Conservation Stewardship Program the flagship program for producers seeking environmental performance linked to economic sustainability. PCM’s founding mission is to use farmer data to serve farmers’ interests with specific emphasis on conservation adoption.  Upon enrolling in PCM, cooperators create a farm profile using PCM’s Farmer Portal, a web interface that quickly, accurately, and securely collects farm data to create a field-by-field inventory of detailed agronomic management practices. After creating farm profiles, PCM specialists offer cooperators a privately-funded incentive to conduct a Resource Analysis and Assessment Plan (RAAP), assessing farm sustainability and identifying natural resource concerns.  Using the RAAP, PCM specialists guide cooperators through NRCS program options with a long-term goal of preparing them for the CSP.  Finally, cooperators utilize the Conservation Client Gateway to apply for NRCS programs.  PCM will succeed in increasing conservation adoption because it approaches conservation from the perspective of the Midwest farmer – protecting business interests while implementing conservation practices that benefit the environment and local communities.

 

 Seeding Ground Cover on Marginal Lands

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $360,000 (State)
  • Lead Partner:  Scott County Conservation District
  • Number of Partners:  7
  • Participating State(s):  Kentucky

This project will repair eroded areas in row cropped fields that have continued to erode due to lack of cover crops or excessive rains, flooding and overflowing, washing out the uncovered crop areas. The Districts will hold Erosion Education Workshops to announce EQIP sign-up periods and answer questions about the program, will update the KY Ag Water Quality Plans, and will join the KY River Watershed Watch to be trained to correctly collect water samples.

PDF of Kentucky projects

 

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Louisiana

Restoring Coastal Prairie through Biofuels

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $613,000 (State)
  • Lead Partner:  The Earth Partners LP
  • Number of Partners:  4
  • Participating State(s):  Louisiana

The conversion of the Gulf coastal prairie ecoregion to rice, sugarcane, pasture and Chinese Tallow infested land has left a mere one percent of this unique, environmentally critical ecosystem fragmented across what was originally 9 million acres in Louisiana and Texas. Restoration of native perennial grasses can simultaneously support increased natural vegetation communities, increase water filtration ecosystem services and also head off further invasion of exotic species.  Partners will demonstrate the feasibility of rehabilitating coastal prairie ecosystem services by deploying a production-scale switchgrass production program across as many as 1,500 acres in Southwest Louisiana spanning the Sabine, Calcasieu, Mermentau and Vermilion-Teche watersheds.

 

RSP: Improving Water Quality using Practice 590

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $800,000 (State)
  • Lead Partner:  Ducks Unlimited
  • Number of Partners:  5
  • Participating State(s):  Louisiana

LA Department of Environmental Quality has designated the Mermentau Basin in need of restoration. This basin holds the majority of rice production in southwest Louisiana. Nutrient loss from agriculture and other sources, particularly nitrogen and phosphorous, is contributing to over-enrichment of waterways, not to mention loss of nutrients is a cost to producers. It is estimated that fewer than 25% of southwest Louisiana rice producers apply nutrients following recommendations for an up-to-date soil test and fewer than 5% of those are using precision application of nutrients. Those who attempt grid soil sampling and precision application quickly see the benefits and further adopt the practice. However, getting producers to take the first step can be a hurdle due to perceived cost. This project will use planning and application of NRCS EQIP practice 590 – Nutrient Management on 23,000 acres to advance water quality improvements in the Mermentau Basin. Additional partnerships such as Chevron and Ducks Unlimited’s will work to install grade stabilization structures, and research and development of rice varieties and management systems to perfect nutrient budgets for modern rice varieties will ensure success to this proposal.

 

Shiftail Canal Watershed Project

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $360,000 (State)
  • Lead Partner:  Caddo SWCD
  • Number of Partners:  8
  • Participating State(s):  Louisiana

The fundamental aim of this project is to holistically address water quality, soil health, wildlife habitat, water quantity and energy conservation concerns within a working farm using highly effective approaches. The core strategy will be to identify several working land tracts within the watershed to implement a comprehensive conservation system that integrates Environmental Quality Incentive Program conservation practices and Conservation Technical Assistance. Conservation plan development for the project will be accomplished through an interdisciplinary planning team that will work to integrate water quality improvement practices, soil health management practices, wildlife enhancement practices and irrigation water management practices. In addition, an economic evaluation will be conducted to provide a cost-benefit analysis of conservation practices implemented to improve water quality, soil health and irrigation efficiency.

PDF of Louisiana projects

 

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Maine

Maine Mountain Collaboration for Fish and Wildlife

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $4.6 million (National)
  • Lead Partner:  The Trust for Public Land
  • Number of Partners:  7
  • Participating State(s):  Maine

This project will help improve inadequate fish and wildlife habitat, particularly for listed species, and biodiversity in the mountains of western Maine, a nationally significant forested mountain corridor along the spine of the Appalachians recognized for its importance in climate adaptation. The project will be regional in scope but will pilot the approach in a smaller, priority geography with plans to replicate successes across the landscape in the future. The project involves three principal activities: 1) purchasing conservation easements, including permanently protecting 9,350 acres of high priority conservation lands (gaps in lands which are already conserved). Thirty year conservation easements on surrounding lands will also be purchased; 2) engaging more small and medium sized private landowners in active management for wildlife; and 3) enhancing conditions for upstream passage of aquatic organisms on surrounding lands.

 

The Young Forest Initiative for At-Risk Species

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $5.2 million (National)
  • Lead Partner:  Wildlife Management Institute
  • Number of Partners:  12
  • Participating State(s):  Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire (lead state), New York, Rhode Island & Vermont

This project will help increase technical and financial assistance to non-industrial private forestland owners who implement practices outlined in the Environmental Quality Incentives Program that result in an increase in the quantity and quality of young forest habitats. This support is critical, since young forest habitat is necessary to meet the critical needs of several recognized at-risk species.

PDF of Maine projects

 

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Maryland

DE & MD – Meeting WIP Goals in the Chesapeake Bay

 

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $4.5 million (CCA)
  • Lead Partner:  Maryland Association of Soil Conservation Districts
  • Number of Partners:  15
  • Participating State(s):  Delaware & Maryland (lead state)

Partners will come together in this project to accelerate the installation of best management practices to enable Maryland and Delaware farmers to meet the nutrient and sediment water quality goals set forth in the Chesapeake Bay TMDL. In Maryland, the focus will be on animal related BMPs, including animal waste storage, stream fencing, heavy use areas and barnyard runoff. To meet Maryland’s new Phosphorus Management Tool requirements, conservation district staff will work with dairy farmers to install state-of-the-art liquid separation technology to overcome the cost of moving the liquid portion of manure long distances to crop fields that require more phosphorus. In Delaware, emphasis will be on crop production and expanded use of cover crops. On the Delmarva Peninsula, crop farmers will be advised on the recent research finding on innovative variable rate nitrogen application techniques (GreenSeeker) and be encouraged to sign up for advanced nutrient management practices. Conservation district staff will be trained on nitrogen removal woodchip bioreactors, which are showing up to 90% Nitrogen removal on trial sites.

PDF of Maryland projects

 

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Massachusetts

The Young Forest Initiative for At-Risk Species

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $5.2 million (National)
  • Lead Partner:  Wildlife Management Institute
  • Number of Partners:  12
  • Participating State(s):  Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire (lead state), New York, Rhode Island & Vermont

This project will help increase technical and financial assistance to non-industrial private forestland owners who implement practices outlined in the Environmental Quality Incentives Program that result in an increase in the quantity and quality of young forest habitats. This support is critical, since young forest habitat is necessary to meet the critical needs of several recognized at-risk species.

PDF of Massachusetts projects

 

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Michigan

Tribal Stream and Michigan Fruitbelt Collaborative

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $7.9 million (CCA)
  • Lead Partner:  Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians
  • Number of Partners:  21
  • Participating State(s):  Michigan

To achieve long term restoration and protection of a multi-tribal fishery, partners will address aquatic organism passage, aquatic habitat and water quality resource concerns at 66 stream crossings and dams throughout northwest Lower Michigan. To ensure conservation investments are long lasting and not undermined by drastic changes in watershed hydrology, land conservancies will preserve nearly 3,000 acres of unique, specialty-crop agricultural land with permanent conservation easements in one of the fastest developing areas in the project area and Great Lakes. This additional land protection and stream work will help protect a major portion of the network of globally rare, cold and cool water, groundwater input, sandy substrate habitats connected by large forested corridors that deliver the highest quality water inputs and comprise the backbone of resiliency for the Great Lakes. Protection of water quality and re-connection of aquatic habitat in this region is vital as these natural resources underpin two major and interdependent portions of Michigan's economy - agriculture and tourism.

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Minnesota

Driftless Area - Habitat for the Wild and Rare

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $2.9 million (National)
  • Lead Partner:  Trout Unlimited
  • Number of Partners:  30
  • Participating State(s):  Minnesota & Wisconsin (lead state)

The Driftless Area (DA) was bypassed by the last continental glacier and features steep valleys, sandstone bluffs and more than 600 unique spring-fed creeks and ridges once covered in prairie and scattered oaks. This ancient landscape supports a variety of plants and animals, including dozens of uncommon species of birds of woodland and grassland habitats, reptiles and amphibians, and abundant populations of native fish found in the high concentration of cold-water streams. The DA's diversity of habitat provides critical habitat for dozens of species of concern in the State Wildlife Action Plans, and has been cited as one of North America's most important resources. Early European settlement and agricultural practices took a heavy toll on the DA, resulting in devastating erosion and serious damage to rivers. Land use practices and conservation efforts have helped heal the land, but the legacy of the past damage is still visible in the sediment-filled valleys and steep, eroding stream banks. For the past nine years Trout Unlimited's Driftless Area Restoration Effort has been working with partners to restore structural diversity, ecological function and overall health. This project will provide a new comprehensive, targeted regional approach to restoring prairie, oak woodlands and streams for the benefit of the many at-risk species and abundant concentrations of native species found in the DA landscape.

 

Honey Bee and Monarch Butterfly Partnership

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $8.3 million (CCA)
  • Lead Partner:  Pheasants Forever, Inc.
  • Number of Partners:  5
  • Participating State(s):  Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska (lead state), North Dakota & South Dakota

Project partners will implement 2,900 EQIP projects on 14,500-acres within the Prairie Grasslands Critical Conservation Areas of Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota and will address inadequate habitat for fish and wildlife natural resource concerns to improve habitat conditions for honey bees and monarch butterflies. Those concerns will be addressed by working to establish high quality habitat projects with landowners on croplands in the area using innovative strategies that directly connect beekeepers, landowners, honey bees, monarch butterflies and high quality habitat.

 

Improving Working Lands for Monarch Butterflies

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $6 million (National)
  • Lead Partner:  National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
  • Number of Partners:  12
  • Participating State(s):  Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas (lead state) & Wisconsin

Our partnership will restore, manage and conserve wildlife habitat for monarch butterflies on agricultural and tribal lands using four main strategies: conservation planning and assessment; habitat improvement and best management practices; building an adequate seed supply for milkweed and nectar plants; and, enhancing organizational coordination and capacity. To provide the greatest conservation outcomes, the project will focus work within two NRCS Critical Conservation Areas: Prairie Grasslands Region and Mississippi River Basin. Targeted areas will be identified through a US Geological Survey-led initiative examining fine-scale opportunities for the restoration of milkweed and other pollinator plants. This project will contribute to national goals in terms of habitat and increase the number of monarch butterflies. This in turn will represent the best opportunity to avoid future regulations related to monarch butterflies from being imposed on farmers and ranchers in the future.

 

Lower Mississippi River Feedlot Management in MN

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $1.6 million (CCA)
  • Lead Partner:  Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources
  • Number of Partners:  2
  • Participating State(s):  Minnesota

This project will focus on fixing priority livestock feedlots under 300 animal units that are currently not in compliance with the Minnesota Administrative Rules, Chapter 7020, or with local county feedlot ordinance requirements within the Lower Mississippi River Basin in MN. This project will include financial assistance for practices to mitigate pollution from open lot runoff, poorly managed pastures and land application of manure. Funds from BWSR and NRCS EQIP will be used for financial assistance to construct appropriate BMPs with cooperating landowners. This project will help meet the goals and objectives of the Minnesota Nutrient Reduction Strategy, the Lower Mississippi River Fecal Coliform TMDL, and locally adopted county water plans.

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Mississippi

Mississippi Grazing Land Management

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $275,000 (State)
  • Lead Partner:  National Center for Appropriate Technology
  • Number of Partners:  2
  • Participating State(s):  Mississippi

This five-year project will focus on increasing the number of Mississippi livestock producers who use grazing techniques that improve the overall health of Mississippi grazing lands. Partners will assist producers in developing new grazing techniques, including season-long continuous grazing, rest-rotation grazing, deferred-rotation grazing, intensively managed grazing and familiarizing producers with the advantages of raising pastures rich with local forage varieties. Planting locally adapted perennial forages will increase the likelihood that producers can maintain forage-based management practices year round and have been shown to optimize animal and plant performance, as well as improve or maintain pasture and range health. The target population for the grazing land management project is small livestock producers of large and small ruminants and experienced grazers who are looking for alternative measures to keep their farm viable. This project will also nurture new Mississippi-based “pasture innovators,” who will be trained to use innovative grazing practices tailored for specific breeds of livestock. Project partners will also assist Mississippi producers in developing peer connections, fostering creative use of natural resources and grazing methods, and using long-term planning approaches.

 

North Mississippi Kudzu Control Project

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $200,000 (State)
  • Lead Partner:  North Central Mississippi Resource Conservation & Development
  • Number of Partners:  18
  • Participating State(s):  Mississippi

The goal of this project is to provide cost-share assistance to private-owned forestlands in North Mississippi to help eradicate the invasive weed kudzu. Kudzu has invaded more than 546,000 acres of private-owned forestlands in Mississippi and has cost forest landowners $54 million dollars annually from loss of timber sales. Kudzu makes it impossible to grow timber or re-establish timber where kudzu exists. Since there has been very limited funding through the federal and state programs for kudzu control, this project hopes to provide a 75% cost-share program to at least 150 forest landowners in a 12-county area to address sustainable forestry and improve wildlife habitat. Partners will hold at least three meetings to inform historically underserved producers about the kudzu control program to ensure that 15% of the landowners receiving cost-share assistance are historically underserved producers. 

 

RCPP-Skuna River Watershed Project

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $339,000 (State)
  • Lead Partner:  Mississippi Soil and Water Conservation Commission (MSWCC)
  • Number of Partners:  3
  • Participating State(s):  Mississippi

The RCPP-Skuna River Watershed Project proposes funding the installation of eligible conservation Best Management Practices (BMPs) on about 1,650 acres of cropland and pastureland for landowners located within a targeted area of the watershed located in Chickasaw County, Mississippi. MSWCC will pay for the replacement of two large in-channel grade control structures that have failed, causing serious degradation to the stream banks of the Skuna River Canal in the project area. Erosion of the soil resource base in the project area removes nutrients, reduces water holding capacity, undermines plant rooting systems, reduces soil organic matter content, reduces soil tilth and degrades water quality within the project area. With the installation of NRCS approved BMPS, both sedimentation and animal waste issues will be addressed in this project.

 

Southern Sentinel Landscapes Conservation

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $7.5 million (National)
  • Lead Partner:  U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities
  • Number of Partners:  20
  • Participating State(s):  Georgia (lead state), Mississippi & North Carolina

This project will protect and restore 17,500 – 21,500 acres of longleaf and other working forest habitats on private lands important for at-risk species. The goal of this multistate effort – Mississippi, Georgia and North Carolina - is to reduce the likelihood that target species will be listed under the Endangered Species Act and to demonstrate the compatibility of working lands management with at-risk species conservation.  These sites and species address shared conservation interests of the Departments of Agriculture, Defense, and Interior on proposed or potential Sentinel Landscapes. The proposed project advances goals of the Range-wide Conservation Plan for Longleaf Pine, the NRCS Longleaf Pine Initiative, and each state’s Forest and Wildlife Action Plans, while also contributing to military installation compatible-use buffers. By focusing on the overlapping interests of three federal Departments, this proposal delivers more measurable benefits to At-Risk Species than if the agencies followed separate paths.  This proposal builds on the RCPP award the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities received in 2014.

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Missouri

Cover Crops for Soil Health and Water Quality – State Project

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $2.4 million (State)
  • Lead Partner:  Missouri Department of Agriculture
  • Number of Partners:  12
  • Participating State(s):  Missouri

Missouri is continuing to expand the understanding of soil conservation by encouraging producers to consider land management practices that address both soil health and water quality resource concerns. This project will help expand the use of cover crops and no-till management throughout the state. With help from partner agencies, the department has established a goal of 20,000 acres planted in cover crops annually on acreage that qualify as highly erodible and/or have organic matter content less than 2 percent. Cost-share funding for cover crops, a demonstration farm, demonstration plots, Missouri Soybean Growers Bay Farm, NRCS Cover Crop Economics tool, Missouri Nutrient Tracking Tool, and Revised Soil Loss Equation (RUSLE 2) calculations will be used to help producers understand the importance of and proper implementation of cover crops to foster successful experiences and encourage wide-spread adoption among fellow producers.

 

Honey Bee and Monarch Butterfly Partnership

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $8.3 million (CCA)
  • Lead Partner:  Pheasants Forever, Inc.
  • Number of Partners:  5
  • Participating State(s):  Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska (lead state), North Dakota & South Dakota

Project partners will implement 2,900 EQIP projects on 14,500-acres within the Prairie Grasslands Critical Conservation Areas of Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota and will address inadequate habitat for fish and wildlife natural resource concerns to improve habitat conditions for honey bees and monarch butterflies. Those concerns will be addressed by working to establish high quality habitat projects with landowners on croplands in the area using innovative strategies that directly connect beekeepers, landowners, honey bees, monarch butterflies and high quality habitat.

 

Improving Working Lands for Monarch Butterflies

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $6 million (National)
  • Lead Partner:  National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
  • Number of Partners:  12
  • Participating State(s):  Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas (lead state) & Wisconsin

Our partnership will restore, manage and conserve wildlife habitat for monarch butterflies on agricultural and tribal lands using four main strategies: conservation planning and assessment; habitat improvement and best management practices; building an adequate seed supply for milkweed and nectar plants; and, enhancing organizational coordination and capacity. To provide the greatest conservation outcomes, the project will focus work within two NRCS Critical Conservation Areas: Prairie Grasslands Region and Mississippi River Basin. Targeted areas will be identified through a US Geological Survey-led initiative examining fine-scale opportunities for the restoration of milkweed and other pollinator plants. This project will contribute to national goals in terms of habitat and increase the number of monarch butterflies. This in turn will represent the best opportunity to avoid future regulations related to monarch butterflies from being imposed on farmers and ranchers in the future.

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Montana

Upper Clark Fork River Drought Resiliency Project

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $1.7 million (State)
  • Lead Partner:  Watershed Restoration Coalition
  • Number of Partners:  6
  • Participating State(s):  Montana

Severe competition for water in this basin prompted the Montana Legislature to close the Upper Clark Fork to new water rights appropriations in 1995, one of the first basins in the state to do so. Today, Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks classifies 100+ stream miles in the river and 10 of its tributaries above Deer Lodge as “dewatered,” stressing both agricultural operations and aquatic habitat. The Upper Clark Fork basin offers a unique opportunity to restore water resources and aquatic habitat on a basin-wide scale while benefitting agricultural operations with diverse water-saving practices.  This 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.

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Nebraska

Cropland Cover for Soil Health and Wildlife

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $700,000 (State)
  • Lead Partner:  Nebraska Game and Parks Commission
  • Number of Partners:  2
  • Participating State(s):  Nebraska

In Nebraska, the lack of sufficient water, frequent drought and soil erosion cause significant impacts to yields and producers’ bottom lines. Similarly, vanishing habitat and increasingly intensive agricultural practices create struggles for wildlife. This project intends to help both producers and wildlife cope with constantly changing conditions. The project partners will implement EQIP practices encouraging producers to leave their cereal grain and sorghum stubble taller and standing in place to provide soil, water and wildlife benefits. The project will also encourage the planting of wildlife friendly cover crops and diverse seedings. Tall standing stubble, cover crops and diverse seedings can help improve water quantity, soil erosion, soil quality and air quality while also providing valuable habitat for grassland birds including at-risk species and pollinators like honey bees and monarchs.

 

Honey Bee and Monarch Butterfly Partnership

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $8.3 million (CCA)
  • Lead Partner:  Pheasants Forever, Inc.
  • Number of Partners:  5
  • Participating State(s):  Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska (lead state), North Dakota & South Dakota

Project partners will implement 2,900 EQIP projects on 14,500-acres within the Prairie Grasslands Critical Conservation Areas of Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota and will address inadequate habitat for fish and wildlife natural resource concerns to improve habitat conditions for honey bees and monarch butterflies. Those concerns will be addressed by working to establish high quality habitat projects with landowners on croplands in the area using innovative strategies that directly connect beekeepers, landowners, honey bees, monarch butterflies and high quality habitat.

 

Innovative Tribal Conservation and GHG Management

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $1.8 million (National)
  • Lead Partner:  Intertribal Agriculture Council
  • Number of Partners:  9
  • Participating State(s):  Alaska, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma & South Dakota (lead state)

As the impacts of climate change become more pronounced in Indian country, Native nations and Indian landowners are faced with the challenge of implementing resource conservation land management systems that incorporate greenhouse gas management activities, also known as carbon farming practices. As greenhouse gas management services gain value in environmental markets, it is vital that historically underserved tribal conservation programs and American Indian farmers and ranchers develop conservation projects that demonstrate causal relationships between soil quality and ecosystem production functions such as carbon sequestration. This project will address the need for conservation stewardship projects on American Indian lands that integrate a carbon farming production possibilities frontier component. The project area will be national in scope covering a diversity of tribal rangeland landscape types including Southwest Alaska, prairie grassland and Colorado River Basin regions. The project includes developing and implementing soil amendment, forestry and grazing management Conservation Activity Plans (CAP) and Conservation Stewardship Plans (CSP) on pilot project sites.  The CAP/CSPs will establish a framework for inventorying the existing baseline carbon sequestration rate and propose cost-effective conservation practices to achieve multiple environmental quality and economic development goals.  One of the anticipated outcomes from this project will be the development of carbon offsets from soil amendment and grazing land and livestock management activities. We will engage private investment in those pilot project sites that both meet investors and credit buyers’ interest in charismatic high-quality carbon offsets, and tribes’ interest in promoting appropriate conservation practices and economic development on Indian lands.

 

Lower Elkhorn Water and Soil Conservation Project

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $400,000 (State)
  • Lead Partner:  Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD)
  • Number of Partners:  12
  • Participating State(s):  Nebraska

The Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD), located in northeast Nebraska, will work to conserve water, protect and improve water quality and conserve and improve soils within its boundaries. It will do this through the utilization of Irrigation Water Management practices, the adoption of nutrient management practices and promotion of soil health conservation practices, such as no-till, diversified crop rotations and the integration of cover crops into cropping systems. Other benefits that will be realized include improved air quality, preservation of habitat for at risk species such as the Western Prairie Fringed Orchid and Topeka Shiner, and enhanced resilience and recovery from the detrimental effects of drought. The LENRD will develop on-farm demonstration sites to educate producers about the positive benefits of conservation practices and will prove that such practices allow growers to maintain or increase yields and financial returns.

 

Midwest Agriculture Water Quality Partnership

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $9.5 million (National)
  • Lead Partner:  Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship
  • Number of Partners:  40
  • Participating State(s):  Illinois, Iowa (lead state) & Nebraska

The Midwest Agriculture Water Quality Partnership has assembled over forty partners and $38 Million in non-federal funds to build an innovative public-private collaboration aimed at advancing a science-based, non-regulatory approach to reducing nutrient loss and improving water quality, soil health and habitat for at-risk species. The partnership has brought together diverse stakeholders from multiple sectors committed to improving water quality in alignment with the goals of the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy. The geographic focus is Iowa, Illinois and Nebraska, with an emphasis on priority watersheds within Iowa. This proposal seeks to improve water quality through building bridges among the public, private, agriculture and environmental sectors and rural, urban, point source and non-point source communities as well as all segments of the agricultural supply chain to foster greater collaboration, improved coordination, increased alignment and more effective conservation delivery. This proposal merges traditional approaches to deliver conservation through scaling up conservation planning and conservation practices with a non-traditional, highly innovative precision agriculture platform integration component that will lead to greater practice adoption and improved conservation outcomes.

 

Republican Basin Conservation Partnership

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $2.1 million (State)
  • Lead Partner:  Lower Republican Natural Resources District
  • Number of Partners:  4
  • Participating State(s):  Nebraska

This project brings together the Lower Republican, Middle Republican and Upper Republican Natural Resources Districts, which collectively have groundwater regulation and conservation authority in an area of approximately 5.74 million acres—or nearly 9,000 square miles—within the thirteen counties encompassing the entire length of the Republican River in Nebraska from the Colorado to the Kansas borders. These districts also share responsibility for assisting the State of Nebraska in meeting the requirements of the 1943 Colorado-Nebraska-Kansas Republican River Compact. This project will enable, encourage and provide financial incentives toward: conversion of irrigated land to non-irrigated land through a widespread end-gun retirement program; improvement of irrigation system efficiency through implementation of high-tech soil moisture sensor technology and micro-irrigation systems; improvement of wildlife habitat with a focus on pollinator conservation and recovery in collaboration with the Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society; and improvement of soil health through increasing cover crop and crop rotation activities.

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Nevada

Greater Outcomes for Greater Sage-Grouse

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $1.9 million (National)
  • Lead Partner:  Partners for Western Conservation
  • Number of Partners:  6
  • Participating State(s):  Colorado (lead state) & Nevada

Western States are gripped by a common need to improve sagebrush habitat and protect against its future loss. This regional partnership brings together Nevada and Colorado, who are actively investing in habitat improvements on private lands with the desire to demonstrate the effectiveness of actions to taxpayers and federal agencies. The project will: 1) Enhance and protect rangeland for greater sage-grouse, and increase conservation outcomes generated by incorporating a habitat quantification approach in project selection and design, and building capacity of project support partners to implement habitat quantification approach; 2) Increase outcomes over time by adaptively managing habitat quantification tools; and 3) Increase transparency and demand for results from public investments by reporting outcomes generated by partner and RCPP funds invested online. State, EQIP and CSP funds will create “credit-ready” projects per the specifications of the Nevada Conservation Credit System and Colorado Habitat Exchange, and private funds will be leveraged to cover long-term stewardship of the improved project sites. This project addresses the issue of stacking credit payments to ensure that EQIP and CSP funds are not be used to offset impacts that require compensatory mitigation and investigates innovative mechanisms for partnering public and private funds to create revolving funds.

 

High Desert Drought Resilient Ranching

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $1.3 million (National)
  • Lead Partner:  Trout Unlimited
  • Number of Partners:  17
  • Participating State(s):  Idaho (lead state), Nevada & Oregon

Nevada, Idaho and Oregon ranchers have experienced a severe drought for the majority of years in the last 30-year cycle. This project will help reduce drought impacts to wildlife and livestock in the Owyhee watershed and adjacent communities in two lesser watersheds, which have been historically underserved. Project partners will work together to develop on-the-ground projects that keep water in streams longer for both livestock and wildlife. Project area selection will emphasize state and private land that currently provides habitat for three focal species: redband trout, greater sage- grouse and Columbia spotted frogs or is adjacent to known populations and has the capacity to restore habitat for these species.

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New Hampshire

Beebe River Aquatic Connectivity & Habitat Project

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $524,000 (State)
  • Lead Partner:  Trout Unlimited
  • Number of Partners:  5
  • Participating State(s):  New Hampshire

Located in Campton and Sandwich New Hampshire, this project will utilize the Environmental Quality Incentive Program to restore water quality and eliminate habitat fragmentation by replacing undersized and degraded road stream crossings in the Beebe River watershed, a sub-watershed to the Pemigewasset and Merrimack Rivers and part of the largest drainage basin within New Hampshire. The primary focus of this project is to restore instream connectivity on five major tributaries whose headwaters are inaccessible due to severe road/stream crossing barriers by replacing these five undersized barriers with hydraulically and geomorphically compatible structures to reconnect the headwater reaches and to restore each tributary’s natural functions. Once reconnected, these high priority cold-water tributaries will reopen close to six miles of upstream spawning and rearing habitat and an additional 15 plus miles of interconnected aquatic habitat.

 

The Young Forest Initiative for At-Risk Species

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $5.2 million (National)
  • Lead Partner:  Wildlife Management Institute
  • Number of Partners:  12
  • Participating State(s):  Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire (lead state), New York, Rhode Island & Vermont

This project will help increase technical and financial assistance to non-industrial private forestland owners who implement practices outlined in the Environmental Quality Incentives Program that result in an increase in the quantity and quality of young forest habitats. This support is critical, since young forest habitat is necessary to meet the critical needs of several recognized at-risk species.

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New Jersey

Raritan Basin Partners for Source Water Protection

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $700,000 (State)
  • Lead Partner:  New Jersey Water Supply Authority (NJWSA)
  • Number of Partners:  3
  • Participating State(s):  New Jersey

The South Branch Raritan River and Lockatong and Wickecheoke Creek Watersheds in New Jersey are important to water supply and have documented water equality impairments and restoration recommendations. Partners will implement conservation practices and easements in these watersheds that benefit water quality and soil health. Project objectives include: 1) reducing nutrient, sediment and bacteria loads from agricultural properties by installing conservation practices on 10-15 farms; 2) improving soil health and preventing soil erosion on agricultural properties through use of appropriate conservation practices such as cover crops and nutrient management; 3) increasing the amount of conservation practice implementation in the target watersheds by offering additional cost-share, up to 100%, via NJWSA's source water protection fund; 4) establishing easements on 1-2 agricultural properties to ensure they will remain in agricultural production; 5) documenting the pollutant load reductions and/or pollutant loads avoided through the implementation of conservation practices and preservation; and 6) evaluating the impact of offering incentives on conservation practice implementation.

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New Mexico

Innovative Tribal Conservation and GHG Management

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $1.8 million (National)
  • Lead Partner:  Intertribal Agriculture Council
  • Number of Partners:  9
  • Participating State(s):  Alaska, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma & South Dakota (lead state)

As the impacts of climate change become more pronounced in Indian country, Native nations and Indian landowners are faced with the challenge of implementing resource conservation land management systems that incorporate greenhouse gas management activities, also known as carbon farming practices. As greenhouse gas management services gain value in environmental markets, it is vital that historically underserved tribal conservation programs and American Indian farmers and ranchers develop conservation projects that demonstrate causal relationships between soil quality and ecosystem production functions such as carbon sequestration. This project will address the need for conservation stewardship projects on American Indian lands that integrate a carbon farming production possibilities frontier component. The project area will be national in scope covering a diversity of tribal rangeland landscape types including Southwest Alaska, prairie grassland and Colorado River Basin regions. The project includes developing and implementing soil amendment, forestry and grazing management Conservation Activity Plans (CAP) and Conservation Stewardship Plans (CSP) on pilot project sites.  The CAP/CSPs will establish a framework for inventorying the existing baseline carbon sequestration rate and propose cost-effective conservation practices to achieve multiple environmental quality and economic development goals.  One of the anticipated outcomes from this project will be the development of carbon offsets from soil amendment and grazing land and livestock management activities. We will engage private investment in those pilot project sites that both meet investors and credit buyers’ interest in charismatic high-quality carbon offsets, and tribes’ interest in promoting appropriate conservation practices and economic development on Indian lands.

 

NM Acequia Revitalization on Historic Lands

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $3 million (State)
  • Lead Partner:  New Mexico Acequia Association, NM Interstate Stream Commission, and NM Association of Conservation Districts
  • Number of Partners:  10
  • Participating State(s):  New Mexico

New Mexico has a rich history of community acequias supporting agriculture with approximately 800 acequias and community ditch associations serving many farmers or “parciantes” who make all, or part of their livelihood from farming and ranching. The majority of these farmers depending are minorities in underserved communities. The objective of this project is to facilitate and promote surface water conservation, increase irrigation system efficiencies/effectiveness and improve water quality on agricultural lands and for downstream purposes. Water quantity and quality will also be improved by restoring historic acequias on agricultural lands supporting local families and communities.

 

North Central NM Watershed Restoration Project

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $500,000 (State)
  • Lead Partner:  Claunch-Pinto SWCD
  • Number of Partners:  15
  • Participating State(s):  New Mexico

This regional watershed project extends from Taos (North) to Bernardo (South) and Gallup (West) to Santa Rosa (East), including all major tributaries and sub-watersheds of the Rio Grande and Pecos River in that region. Poor historic management of forest watersheds and riparian zones along with current and forecast climate change are creating a dire situation for the condition and availability of New Mexico’s forest, rangeland and water resources.  Wildlife, acequias, rural economies, tourism and outdoor recreation are all at risk from the associated impacts of watershed wildfires. This project expands on previous work with established partners and aims to reduce wildfire risks, improve soils, hydrology and vegetation, and enhance social/economic needs. 

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New York

Enhancement to the NYC Watershed Ag Program

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $1.2 million (State)
  • Lead Partner:  Watershed Agricultural Council of the NYC Watersheds, Inc.
  • Number of Partners:  1
  • Participating State(s):  New York

The Watershed Agricultural Program (WAP) is a conservation partnership that develops and maintains Whole Farm Plans on active farms within the NYC water supply watersheds.  Currently, there are 298 farms are in the Catskill and Delaware watersheds that are participating in the WAP and are the focus of this project. Partners will work with the WAP farmers to accelerate implementation of conservation practices for the purpose of protecting surface water quality for the 9 million consumers of the NYC Water Supply. EQIP funds will allow additional water quality protection measures that address agricultural waste management to be implemented, while also assisting NYC with meeting federal and state regulatory requirements associated with the Safe Drinking Water Act.

 

Genesee River Sediment and Phosphorus Reduction

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $3 million (CCA)
  • Lead Partner:  New York State Soil & Water Conservation Committee
  • Number of Partners:  4
  • Participating State(s):  Pennsylvania & New York (lead state)

The Genesee River Sediment and Phosphorus Reduction project will address pollutants entering Lake Ontario.  Sediment and phosphorus loading from the Genesee River has been identified as having significant negative impacts on near-shore waters and aquatic habitat and possibly impacting human health through harmful algal blooms.  The Genesee River Watershed is heavily farmed with 52% of the land base being in agricultural production.  Through this RCPP Project, EQIP funding will be used to address phosphorus laden sediment inputs entering the Genesee River directly or through tributaries. Projects will focus on soil health and riparian corridor management, as well as, sediment control practices on lands adjacent to watercourses.  This project will work with an array of state and local programs to remove the impaired portions of the Genesee River targeted for TMDL development on the CWA Section 303(d) list.

 

Upper Susquehanna Agricultural BMP Implementation

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $4.1 million (CCA)
  • Lead Partner:  Tioga County Soil and Water Conservation District
  • Number of Partners:  2
  • Participating State(s):  New York

Since agriculture has been identified as a major source sector of nutrients and sediment, it’s critical that farms in the Upper Susquehanna River watershed need to adapt and implement Best Management Practices (BMPs) to reduce their environmental impacts. This project will address nutrient reductions and water quality improvements locally by increasing landowner enrollment in USDA EQIP conservation program and by installing conservation practices that will address local, state and national water quality objectives.

 

The Young Forest Initiative for At-Risk Species

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $5.2 million (National)
  • Lead Partner:  Wildlife Management Institute
  • Number of Partners:  12
  • Participating State(s):  Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire (lead state), New York, Rhode Island & Vermont

This project will help increase technical and financial assistance to non-industrial private forestland owners who implement practices outlined in the Environmental Quality Incentives Program that result in an increase in the quantity and quality of young forest habitats. This support is critical, since young forest habitat is necessary to meet the critical needs of several recognized at-risk species.

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North Carolina

African American Forest Restoration and Retention

  • Proposed NRCS Investment: $1.6 million (CCA)
  • Lead Partner: U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities
  • Number of Partners:  6
  • Participating State(s):  Alabama, North Carolina & South Carolina (lead state)

Through an existing partnership, the Sustainable Forestry and African American Land Retention Program (SFLR), this project will address degraded plant conditions and enhancement of wildlife habitat by supporting forest restoration on African American-owned forestlands in high poverty regions of the Southeastern United States. In this region, African American family-owned forests tend to be degraded due to lack of pro-active forest management. During its 30-month pilot phase, the SFLR program was effective at building a bridge of trust between landowners and USDA programs supporting 157 EQIP applications for forestry practices with more than $1 million in EQIP contracts directed to African American project participants. The project will support landowners through direct provision of forestry, land tenure (heirs’ property) and technical services as well as the brokering of services from other private and government providers including forestry commissions, consulting foresters, extension services and conservation organizations.

 

MBGro: NC Grain Nutrient Management & Soil Health

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $500,000 (State)
  • Lead Partner:  Environmental Defense Fund (EDF)
  • Number of Partners:  8
  • Participating State(s):  North Carolina

Environmental Defense Fund is collaborating with Smithfield Foods Hog Production Division to improve the sustainability of its feed grain supply chain by reducing the water quality and greenhouse gas impacts of nitrogen fertilizer use and improving soil health. Smithfield is assisting farmers that grow corn, wheat, sorghum and soy to promote the adoption of advanced nutrient management tools, technologies and practices; soil health practices such as no-till and cover crops; and practices that trap and filter nutrients. Smithfield calls this initiative MBGro and hired an agronomist to provide extensive outreach, education and technical support to growers in Smithfield’s grain sourcing region. EDF assists Smithfield in selecting the practices to promote, ensuring MBGro is based in sound science, designing watershed projects and tracking outcomes. Other partners will show the economic and environmental benefits of the practices. The project’s goal is to engage 165,000 corn and wheat acres as well as at least 40,000 soy acres in one or more fertilizer optimization, soil health and nutrient filtration initiatives.

 

Southern Sentinel Landscapes Conservation

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $7.5 million (National)
  • Lead Partner:  U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities
  • Number of Partners:  20
  • Participating State(s):  Georgia (lead state), Mississippi & North Carolina

This project will protect and restore 17,500 – 21,500 acres of longleaf and other working forest habitats on private lands important for at-risk species. The goal of this multistate effort – Mississippi, Georgia and North Carolina - is to reduce the likelihood that target species will be listed under the Endangered Species Act and to demonstrate the compatibility of working lands management with at-risk species conservation.  These sites and species address shared conservation interests of the Departments of Agriculture, Defense, and Interior on proposed or potential Sentinel Landscapes. The proposed project advances goals of the Range-wide Conservation Plan for Longleaf Pine, the NRCS Longleaf Pine Initiative, and each state’s Forest and Wildlife Action Plans, while also contributing to military installation compatible-use buffers. By focusing on the overlapping interests of three federal Departments, this proposal delivers more measurable benefits to At-Risk Species than if the agencies followed separate paths.  This proposal builds on the RCPP award the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities received in 2014.

 

Western NC Stream & Water Quality Initiative – State Project

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $1 million (State)
  • Lead Partner:  Resource Institute, Inc.
  • Number of Partners:  3
  • Participating State(s):  North Carolina

Partners will identify, design, construct and monitor projects that will restore, enhance and reestablish streams and wetlands that have been degraded by agricultural land use throughout Western NC. Projects will be conducted using the latest technological approaches in stream and wetland restoration and water quality BMPs. The project objective is to provide measurable improvements in the quality of water resources in this region by reducing erosion, increasing aquatic habitat availability and diversity, restoring stream functions, promoting riparian and wetland areas and increasing the amount of protected land along stream corridors. By improving function and increasing the amount of protected lands, riparian buffers and wetlands, the project will help reduce the overall load of non-point source agricultural pollutants entering water bodies in the region. This outcome will benefit resource users in the watershed, as well as help producers reduce or avoid the need for regulation of agricultural land use.

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North Dakota

Honey Bee and Monarch Butterfly Partnership

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $8.3 million (CCA)
  • Lead Partner:  Pheasants Forever, Inc.
  • Number of Partners:  5
  • Participating State(s):  Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska (lead state), North Dakota & South Dakota

Project partners will implement 2,900 EQIP projects on 14,500-acres within the Prairie Grasslands Critical Conservation Areas of Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota and will address inadequate habitat for fish and wildlife natural resource concerns to improve habitat conditions for honey bees and monarch butterflies. Those concerns will be addressed by working to establish high quality habitat projects with landowners on croplands in the area using innovative strategies that directly connect beekeepers, landowners, honey bees, monarch butterflies and high quality habitat.

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Ohio

Clear Creek RCPP – State Project

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $425,000 (State)
  • Lead Partner:  Highland Soil and Water Conservation District
  • Number of Partners:  6
  • Participating State(s):  Ohio

This innovative project will implement a series of agricultural best management practices to protect water quality, improve soil health and provide habitat for at risk species in the Clear Creek Watershed. It will also help protect the City of Hillsboro’s drinking water supply and provide prescribed habitat for Ohio’s diminished Bobwhite Quail population and native pollinators. Project goals for conservation practices include the installation of 3,000 acres of cover crops, 3,000 acres of nutrient management, 6 acres of grassed waterways, and certain prescribed wildlife management practices that improve habitat for targeted species. Implementation of BMPs will be prioritized upstream of the City of Hillsboro’s drinking water intake and within the wildlife focus area for Bobwhite Quail.

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Oklahoma

Improving Working Lands for Monarch Butterflies

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $6 million (National)
  • Lead Partner:  National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
  • Number of Partners:  12
  • Participating State(s):  Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas (lead state) & Wisconsin

Our partnership will restore, manage and conserve wildlife habitat for monarch butterflies on agricultural and tribal lands using four main strategies: conservation planning and assessment; habitat improvement and best management practices; building an adequate seed supply for milkweed and nectar plants; and, enhancing organizational coordination and capacity. To provide the greatest conservation outcomes, the project will focus work within two NRCS Critical Conservation Areas: Prairie Grasslands Region and Mississippi River Basin. Targeted areas will be identified through a US Geological Survey-led initiative examining fine-scale opportunities for the restoration of milkweed and other pollinator plants. This project will contribute to national goals in terms of habitat and increase the number of monarch butterflies. This in turn will represent the best opportunity to avoid future regulations related to monarch butterflies from being imposed on farmers and ranchers in the future.

 

Innovative Tribal Conservation and GHG Management

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $1.8 million (National)
  • Lead Partner:  Intertribal Agriculture Council
  • Number of Partners:  9
  • Participating State(s):  Alaska, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma & South Dakota (lead state)

As the impacts of climate change become more pronounced in Indian country, Native nations and Indian landowners are faced with the challenge of implementing resource conservation land management systems that incorporate greenhouse gas management activities, also known as carbon farming practices. As greenhouse gas management services gain value in environmental markets, it is vital that historically underserved tribal conservation programs and American Indian farmers and ranchers develop conservation projects that demonstrate causal relationships between soil quality and ecosystem production functions such as carbon sequestration. This project will address the need for conservation stewardship projects on American Indian lands that integrate a carbon farming production possibilities frontier component. The project area will be national in scope covering a diversity of tribal rangeland landscape types including Southwest Alaska, prairie grassland and Colorado River Basin regions. The project includes developing and implementing soil amendment, forestry and grazing management Conservation Activity Plans (CAP) and Conservation Stewardship Plans (CSP) on pilot project sites.  The CAP/CSPs will establish a framework for inventorying the existing baseline carbon sequestration rate and propose cost-effective conservation practices to achieve multiple environmental quality and economic development goals.  One of the anticipated outcomes from this project will be the development of carbon offsets from soil amendment and grazing land and livestock management activities. We will engage private investment in those pilot project sites that both meet investors and credit buyers’ interest in charismatic high-quality carbon offsets, and tribes’ interest in promoting appropriate conservation practices and economic development on Indian lands.

 

Native Grazing Lands Protection in the Plains

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $3.6 million (National)
  • Lead Partner:  The Nature Conservancy
  • Number of Partners:  7
  • Participating State(s):  Kansas (lead state) & Oklahoma

Native grasslands of the central Great Plains are some of the most majestic yet least conserved landscapes in North America. The project area for this proposed effort encompasses the most intact native grazing lands remaining in Kansas and Oklahoma, which provide critical habitat for a number of rare and sensitive species, including the lesser prairie-chicken.  By applying conservation easements and practices on native grazing lands, this project aims to prevent habitat fragmentation and conversion to non-grazing uses, improve wildlife habitat and reduce the spread of invasive species. One innovative component of this proposal will include working with Kansas State University to better quantify the changes in stream base flows following eastern red cedar removal in adjacent riparian areas and uplands. It is anticipated that approximately 12,000 acres of grazing lands will be protected via conservation easements and EQIP conservation practices will be delivered on over 40,000 acres.

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Oregon

Alder Slope Cooperative Partnership

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $1.1 million (State)
  • Lead Partner:  Wallowa Soil & Water Conservation District
  • Number of Partners:  9
  • Participating State(s):  Oregon

Partners will address irrigation efficiency and forest health in high priority Alder Slope areas. The irrigation portion of this project will increase irrigation efficiency by 15 percent, reduce water waste and generate power in the Alder Slope geographic priority area. A catastrophic fire on Alder Slope would result in negative resource impacts to forest health, soil conditions and endangered species such as bull trout, steelhead and salmon. The forest health portion of this overall project will create a defensible space from wildfire between public forests and private non-industrial forestland by reducing the density of overstocked stands, manipulating fuel arrangement, forest structure and significantly reducing the fuel load by an estimated 99,000 tons of fuel. The U.S. Forest Service will to do the same on the federally owned lands to increase the defensible space.

 

Dairy-McKay Degraded Riparian Ecosystems

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $936,000 (National)
  • Lead Partner:  Tualatin Soil and Water Conservation District
  • Number of Partners:  3
  • Participating State(s):  Oregon

During the past 10 years, the Tualatin SWCD and its partners have worked with over 70 private landowners to restore 39 miles of stream throughout the larger watershed using unique riparian restoration programs. Tualatin SWCD and its partners have ranked the Dairy-McKay and Middle Tualatin watersheds, sub-watersheds of the Tualatin River Watershed, as high priority for conservation treatment. This project proposes to work on land along priority stream reaches within this focus area to implement practices to restore fish and wildlife habitat that utilize the streams and riparian areas, increase efficient use of irrigation water, and decrease nutrients and pesticides in surface and ground waters. Objectives by 2021 are to: establish riparian forest buffers along 20 miles of priority stream reaches bordering agricultural lands; improve irrigation water use efficiency on 170 acres along priority stream reaches; decrease manure runoff from five livestock operations; and restore 20 acres of wetland in floodplain sites bordering priority stream reaches.

 

Grande Ronde Watershed Conservation Partnership

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $3.7 million (CCA)
  • Lead Partner:  Union County Conservation District
  • Number of Partners:  7
  • Participating State(s):  Oregon

The Grande Ronde Watershed Conservation Partnership is a diverse group with a 23-year history of collaboration and working with landowners to address local conservation priorities related to watershed health and fish and wildlife habitat. This partnership will implement critical watershed-scale projects addressing soil erosion, sedimentation, and water quantity and quality contributing to the recovery of ESA listed salmon, steelhead and bull trout populations. Project success will be monitored and demonstrated through irrigation water management analysis, in-stream flow measurements, vegetative assessment surveys and fire danger assessments. Fish distribution and quantitative habit surveys will be conducted annually. Site visits for all upland projects will be conducted to ensure project implementation success, operations and maintenance.

 

High Desert Drought Resilient Ranching

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $1.3 million (National)
  • Lead Partner:  Trout Unlimited
  • Number of Partners:  17
  • Participating State(s):  Idaho (lead state), Nevada & Oregon

Nevada, Idaho and Oregon ranchers have experienced a severe drought for the majority of years in the last 30-year cycle. This project will help reduce drought impacts to wildlife and livestock in the Owyhee watershed and adjacent communities in two lesser watersheds, which have been historically underserved. Project partners will work together to develop on-the-ground projects that keep water in streams longer for both livestock and wildlife. Project area selection will emphasize state and private land that currently provides habitat for three focal species: redband trout, greater sage- grouse and Columbia spotted frogs or is adjacent to known populations and has the capacity to restore habitat for these species.

 

Lower Columbia Watershed Partnership

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $3 million (CCA)
  • Lead Partner:  Columbia Soil and Water Conservation District
  • Number of Partners:  11
  • Participating State(s):  Oregon

Through the Watershed Authority PL-566 and locally led contracting, this partnership will be able to involve more landowner participants and make measurable improvements to the health and viability of the Lower Columbia River Watershed. The project will focus on water quality degradation, with an emphasis on improving excessive sediment in surface waters by designing and implementing several stream bank protection projects as well as increasing vegetation to minimize excess nutrients and pesticides from getting into the stream systems. These actions would also assist in improving another resource concern - inadequate habitat for fish and wildlife. By bringing different expertise together in one specific regional area, this project can make significant strides towards improving the habitat and water quality in the Lower Columbia Watershed.

 

SONEC Working Wet Meadows Initiative

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $2.6 million (National)
  • Lead Partner:  Intermountain West Joint Venture
  • Number of Partners:  12
  • Participating State(s):  California & Oregon (lead state)

The Southern Oregon-Northeastern California (SONEC) region is one of the most important areas for migratory waterbirds in North America, supporting approximately 70% of the Pacific Flyway’s wetland-dependent migratory bird population (>six million birds). These birds are attracted to SONEC because of the food resources provided by privately owned, flood-irrigated wet meadow habitats on working ranchlands within historic floodplains. However, these habitats are increasingly threatened by changing irrigation practices, aging water conveyance infrastructure and fragmentation. To address at risk species habitat, water quantity and drought resource concerns, this project will strategically utilize Farm Bill programs and partner contributions to conserve nearly 25,000 acres of wet meadow habitats and improve the resiliency of working ranchlands to drought. Specifically, the project will improve the sustainability of wet meadows for migratory birds by: enhancing infrastructure and improving the efficiency of flood-irrigation on critical wet meadows; acquiring conservation easements to remove fragmentation risk; and enhancing important foraging habitat for wetland-dependent migratory birds.

 

Water Quality and Quantity in the Klamath Basin

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $7.6 million (National)
  • Lead Partner:  Trout Unlimited, Inc.
  • Number of Partners:  5
  • Participating State(s):  Oregon

The Klamath Basin is well known for water related issues, as agricultural and environmental interests compete for an over allocated resource. The primary natural resource concerns in the basin are limited instream flows and external loading of nutrients into Upper Klamath Lake, problems that persist downstream through the mainstem Klamath River. Reduced instream flows contribute to elevated summer stream temperatures, and thereby limit the amount of cold water spawning and rearing habitat for a number of native fish species, including bull trout and redband trout. Lake-fringe wetlands and riparian buffers, which historically provided extensive nutrient filtration and critical habitat for endangered sucker, are now limited. Irrigators in the Klamath Basin have been hit hard by many years of drought, and it is clear that there is currently not enough water to meet irrigation needs and simultaneously address the natural resource concerns described above. The project goals are to: improve water quality; increase protected instream flows in tributaries and flowing into Upper Klamath Lake; increase drought resilience of producers and natural systems; and improve instream, wetland and riparian habitat for federally listed species. Tangible, measurable results of the innovative program activities will be tracked, including in-stream water quality, acre-feet of water saved through irrigation efficiencies, pasture condition scores, and acres of restored wetlands and proper functioning riparian buffers.

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Pennsylvania

Genesee River Sediment and Phosphorus Reduction

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $3 million (CCA)
  • Lead Partner:  New York State Soil & Water Conservation Committee
  • Number of Partners:  4
  • Participating State(s):  Pennsylvania & New York (lead state)

The Genesee River Sediment and Phosphorus Reduction project will address pollutants entering Lake Ontario.  Sediment and phosphorus loading from the Genesee River has been identified as having significant negative impacts on near-shore waters and aquatic habitat and possibly impacting human health through harmful algal blooms.  The Genesee River Watershed is heavily farmed with 52% of the land base being in agricultural production.  Through this RCPP Project, EQIP funding will be used to address phosphorus laden sediment inputs entering the Genesee River directly or through tributaries. Projects will focus on soil health and riparian corridor management, as well as, sediment control practices on lands adjacent to watercourses.  This project will work with an array of state and local programs to remove the impaired portions of the Genesee River targeted for TMDL development on the CWA Section 303(d) list.

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Rhode Island

Enhancing Soil Health in the Ocean State

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $600,000 (State)
  • Lead Partner:  Rhode Island State Conservation Committee (RISCC)
  • Number of Partners:  6
  • Participating State(s):  Rhode Island

Healthy soils are the cornerstone to sustainable food production and clean waters, and this project intends to convey the importance of healthy soils while assisting RI agricultural producers with the first steps toward improving their farm's soil health. Partners will develop criteria for Soil Health Management Conservation Activity Plans (SHMcaps) and choose two pilot farms. SHMcaps will include criteria that standardizes a format for summarizing results from the farm's soil health testing, identifies various systems of BMPs that will improve the farm's soil & plant health, reduce soil erosion and improve water quality and provides implementation schedules that meet the farm's objectives. Implementation of the SHMcap will resolve pinpointed soil health limitations and ultimately enhance farm production and soil function, while improving water quality throughout the state.

 

The Young Forest Initiative for At-Risk Species

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $5.2 million (National)
  • Lead Partner:  Wildlife Management Institute
  • Number of Partners:  12
  • Participating State(s):  Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire (lead state), New York, Rhode Island & Vermont

This project will help increase technical and financial assistance to non-industrial private forestland owners who implement practices outlined in the Environmental Quality Incentives Program that result in an increase in the quantity and quality of young forest habitats. This support is critical, since young forest habitat is necessary to meet the critical needs of several recognized at-risk species.

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South Carolina

African American Forest Restoration and Retention

  • Proposed NRCS Investment: $1.6 million (CCA)
  • Lead Partner: U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities
  • Number of Partners:  6
  • Participating State(s):  Alabama, North Carolina & South Carolina (lead state)

Through an existing partnership, the Sustainable Forestry and African American Land Retention Program (SFLR), this project will address degraded plant conditions and enhancement of wildlife habitat by supporting forest restoration on African American-owned forestlands in high poverty regions of the Southeastern United States. In this region, African American family-owned forests tend to be degraded due to lack of pro-active forest management. During its 30-month pilot phase, the SFLR program was effective at building a bridge of trust between landowners and USDA programs supporting 157 EQIP applications for forestry practices with more than $1 million in EQIP contracts directed to African American project participants. The project will support landowners through direct provision of forestry, land tenure (heirs’ property) and technical services as well as the brokering of services from other private and government providers including forestry commissions, consulting foresters, extension services and conservation organizations.

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South Dakota

Honey Bee and Monarch Butterfly Partnership

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $8.3 million (CCA)
  • Lead Partner:  Pheasants Forever, Inc.
  • Number of Partners:  5
  • Participating State(s):  Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska (lead state), North Dakota & South Dakota

Project partners will implement 2,900 EQIP projects on 14,500-acres within the Prairie Grasslands Critical Conservation Areas of Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota and will address inadequate habitat for fish and wildlife natural resource concerns to improve habitat conditions for honey bees and monarch butterflies. Those concerns will be addressed by working to establish high quality habitat projects with landowners on croplands in the area using innovative strategies that directly connect beekeepers, landowners, honey bees, monarch butterflies and high quality habitat.

 

Innovative Tribal Conservation and GHG Management

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $1.8 million (National)
  • Lead Partner:  Intertribal Agriculture Council
  • Number of Partners:  9
  • Participating State(s):  Alaska, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma & South Dakota (lead state)

As the impacts of climate change become more pronounced in Indian country, Native nations and Indian landowners are faced with the challenge of implementing resource conservation land management systems that incorporate greenhouse gas management activities, also known as carbon farming practices. As greenhouse gas management services gain value in environmental markets, it is vital that historically underserved tribal conservation programs and American Indian farmers and ranchers develop conservation projects that demonstrate causal relationships between soil quality and ecosystem production functions such as carbon sequestration. This project will address the need for conservation stewardship projects on American Indian lands that integrate a carbon farming production possibilities frontier component. The project area will be national in scope covering a diversity of tribal rangeland landscape types including Southwest Alaska, prairie grassland and Colorado River Basin regions. The project includes developing and implementing soil amendment, forestry and grazing management Conservation Activity Plans (CAP) and Conservation Stewardship Plans (CSP) on pilot project sites.  The CAP/CSPs will establish a framework for inventorying the existing baseline carbon sequestration rate and propose cost-effective conservation practices to achieve multiple environmental quality and economic development goals.  One of the anticipated outcomes from this project will be the development of carbon offsets from soil amendment and grazing land and livestock management activities. We will engage private investment in those pilot project sites that both meet investors and credit buyers’ interest in charismatic high-quality carbon offsets, and tribes’ interest in promoting appropriate conservation practices and economic development on Indian lands.

 

Lewis & Clark/Lower James River WQ Project

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $2.7 million (State)
  • Lead Partner:  James River Water Development District
  • Number of Partners:  7
  • Participating State(s):  South Dakota

This project will assist land owners and producers with saline and sodic problem soils; improving water quality by avoiding, controlling and trapping nutrient and sediment runoff; reducing agricultural non-point source pollution; improving grassland and riparian area conditions and improving soil health and wildlife habitat within the watersheds. The South Dakota Department of Environment will develop a monitoring program for the project to assess current river and watershed conditions and gage the impacts of past and planned conservation practices.

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Tennessee

Upper Clinch-Powell Watershed Partnership

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $4.5 million (National)
  • Lead Partner:  The Nature Conservancy – Clinch Valley Program
  • Number of Partners:  16
  • Participating State(s):  Tennessee & Virginia (lead state)

The globally important Upper Clinch-Powell River Watershed, located in the Appalachian Mountains of Virginia and Tennessee, is a leading national hotspot for biodiversity and imperiled species sustaining over 40 varieties of rare mussels and supporting at least 129 native types of fish. Surrounding the rivers is a rural landscape that includes forests, coal mining areas, sensitive caves which are critical to groundwater, working farms, and small Appalachian towns struggling to remain economically viable. To protect and sustain this region, The Nature Conservancy and partners formed the Clinch-Powell Clean Rivers Initiative (CPCRI) to document and address ecosystem stressors including excess sediments and nutrients, metals, dissolved solids, pesticides and persistent organics. This project is designed to improve water quality and aquatic habitat by developing a local working group for resource identification and bmp prioritization, designing a GIS-based ranking system to prioritize RCCP project investments, implementing agricultural and mining BMPs in biologically critical areas, and assessing the positive impacts of these BMPs on water quality.  

 

West Tennessee Floodplain & Wetland Restoration

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $934,000 (State)
  • Lead Partner:  West Tennessee River Basin Authority (WTRBA)
  • Number of Partners:  6
  • Participating State(s):  Tennessee

Sediment from agricultural production and in-stream sources is west Tennessee's largest freshwater pollutant and has contributed to large-scale ecological degradation and economic loss. This project addresses water quality, aquatic and riverine habitat resource concerns in several watersheds located in five counties of west Tennessee. The goal of this project is to measurably improve the water quality and ecological integrity of the identified watersheds through implementation of NRCS soil health initiative practices, grade stabilization structures, riparian forest buffer, sediment basins, wetland enhancement and wetland restoration.

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Texas

Fort Hood Private Lands Conservation Initiative

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $700,000 (State)
  • Lead Partner:  Compatible Lands Foundation (CLF)
  • Number of Partners:  1
  • Participating State(s): 

The Fort Hood Private Lands Conservation Initiative is a partnership between the CLF and the United States Army to preserve 22,000 acres of grazing lands adjacent to Fort Hood Army Base in Coryell County, Texas, through the acquisition of permanent conservation easements. Through this program, grazing lands will be preserved, wildlife habitat for such species as the Golden Cheeked Warbler and Monarch Butterfly will be protected, and water quality and quantity in the Trinity Aquifer will be protected by the conservation of important recharge lands. Additionally, military training occurring at Fort Hood will not be disrupted from incompatible land uses on adjacent properties.

 

Improving Working Lands for Monarch Butterflies

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $6 million (National)
  • Lead Partner:  National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
  • Number of Partners:  12
  • Participating State(s):  Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas (lead state) & Wisconsin

Our partnership will restore, manage and conserve wildlife habitat for monarch butterflies on agricultural and tribal lands using four main strategies: conservation planning and assessment; habitat improvement and best management practices; building an adequate seed supply for milkweed and nectar plants; and, enhancing organizational coordination and capacity. To provide the greatest conservation outcomes, the project will focus work within two NRCS Critical Conservation Areas: Prairie Grasslands Region and Mississippi River Basin. Targeted areas will be identified through a US Geological Survey-led initiative examining fine-scale opportunities for the restoration of milkweed and other pollinator plants. This project will contribute to national goals in terms of habitat and increase the number of monarch butterflies. This in turn will represent the best opportunity to avoid future regulations related to monarch butterflies from being imposed on farmers and ranchers in the future.

 

Limited Applied Irrigation Assistance Program

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $2 million (State)
  • Lead Partner:  High Plains Underground Water District
  • Number of Partners:  16
  • Participating State(s):  Texas

This project will address inefficient use of irrigation and moisture management concerns within the Ogallala Aquifer by encouraging agricultural water users to leave water in the ground through adoption of on-farm water conservation strategies, improved irrigation efficiency or conversion to non-irrigated production for the life of the project. The proposed project will build on existing programs such as EQIP, CSP and AWEP to address water conservation needs in the proposed region and establish an economic incentive for producers to participate in the project. Additionally, by leveraging state and local cost-share for the purchase of equipment, this project will result in measured data on applied irrigation water and allow for producer compensation based on actual on-farm water savings.

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Utah

Restoring Watersheds at a Landscape Scale in Utah

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $940,000 (State)
  • Lead Partner:  Utah Department of Natural Resources
  • Number of Partners:  14
  • Participating State(s):  Utah

To prevent the sage-grouse from being listed under the ESA, Utah has adopted a Greater Sage-grouse Conservation Plan, which emphasizes habitat restoration of sage-grouse habitat on state, private and federal lands within priority areas identified as Sage-grouse Management Areas (SGMAs). Eleven of the twelve SGMAs have an increasing population trend over the last three years, but the Sheeprocks SGMA has decreased to a critically low population level. After identifying several threats to the this SGMA, an action plan was prepared to address the declining sage-grouse population. The actions proposed to address these threats including habitat restoration by removing pinyon juniper encroachment and controlling invasive weeds, wild fire resistance, sage-grouse transplants, targeted predator control, establishment of a managed OHV trail system and research and monitoring to measure vegetation and sage-grouse response to these actions.

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Vermont

Memphremagog  Long-term Water Quality Partnership

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $674,000 (State)
  • Lead Partner:  Orleans County Natural Resources Conservation District
  • Number of Partners:  10
  • Participating State(s):  Vermont

With an emphasis on target sub-watersheds where water quality sampling indicates significant contributions of phosphorus loading from agricultural lands to the phosphorus-impaired Lake Memphremagog and a nutrient-impaired stream within the Tomifobia River watershed, partners will plan and implement key conservation practices on agricultural land to improve water quality. The project will implement NRCS-approved practices on farms, focusing on NMPs, smaller BMP production area practices and field and pasture practices to address water quality, soil erosion and soil quality decline. Success will be evaluated using multiple performance measures including: water sampling results, NMPs completed, practices installed, phosphorus reductions per practice, acreage treated and social measures―such as changes in farmer behavior and establishment of an ongoing farmer workgroup.

 

The Young Forest Initiative for At-Risk Species

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $5.2 million (National)
  • Lead Partner:  Wildlife Management Institute
  • Number of Partners:  12
  • Participating State(s):  Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire (lead state), New York, Rhode Island & Vermont

This project will help increase technical and financial assistance to non-industrial private forestland owners who implement practices outlined in the Environmental Quality Incentives Program that result in an increase in the quantity and quality of young forest habitats. This support is critical, since young forest habitat is necessary to meet the critical needs of several recognized at-risk species.

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Virginia

Blue Ridge PRISM Landowner Programs Expansion

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $894,000 (State)
  • Lead Partner:  Shenandoah National Park Trust
  • Number of Partners:  11
  • Participating State(s):  Virginia

The Blue Ridge PRISM project is the first Cooperative Weed Management Area (CWMA) in Virginia to address invasive plants. Since invasive species control is more effective if a large collection of adjacent landowners perform the same treatments, the project area identified ten counties with nearly three million acres to target along the northern Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. The Blue Ridge PRISM has designed an innovative grassroots program to solve a challenge of every CWMA― organizing contiguous landowners into large blocks and coordinating the work ―called the Area Stewards Program. Area Stewards are proactive landowners who treat invasive plants on their own properties and enlist their neighbors to do the same.

 

Upper Clinch-Powell Watershed Partnership

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $4.5 million (National)
  • Lead Partner:  The Nature Conservancy – Clinch Valley Program
  • Number of Partners:  16
  • Participating State(s):  Tennessee & Virginia (lead state)

The globally important Upper Clinch-Powell River Watershed, located in the Appalachian Mountains of Virginia and Tennessee, is a leading national hotspot for biodiversity and imperiled species sustaining over 40 varieties of rare mussels and supporting at least 129 native types of fish. Surrounding the rivers is a rural landscape that includes forests, coal mining areas, sensitive caves which are critical to groundwater, working farms, and small Appalachian towns struggling to remain economically viable. To protect and sustain this region, The Nature Conservancy and partners formed the Clinch-Powell Clean Rivers Initiative (CPCRI) to document and address ecosystem stressors including excess sediments and nutrients, metals, dissolved solids, pesticides and persistent organics. This project is designed to improve water quality and aquatic habitat by developing a local working group for resource identification and bmp prioritization, designing a GIS-based ranking system to prioritize RCCP project investments, implementing agricultural and mining BMPs in biologically critical areas, and assessing the positive impacts of these BMPs on water quality. 

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Washington

Greater Spokane River Watershed Implementation

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $7.7 million (National)
  • Lead Partner:  Spokane Conservation District
  • Number of Partners:  21
  • Participating State(s):  Idaho & Washington (lead state)

Significant sources of sediments and nutrients are carried to the Spokane River watershed by its larger tributaries, and low dissolved oxygen levels and algae blooms threaten aquatic life in the Spokane River, Lake Spokane and Coeur d'Alene Lake. Reducing nutrients is key to resolving water quality degradation throughout the Greater Spokane River Bi-State Watershed. TMDL and lake management implementation plans stress the need to address agriculture and forestry within these watersheds. This project supports regional momentum towards adoption of conservation tillage operations and best management practices. Tens of thousands of agricultural and forestry acres, including a tribal farm, will benefit through voluntary NRCS programs. Wildlife and fish habitat will be protected and long-term easements will be developed for several forest and wetland acquisitions. In addition, this project will introduce a new program that involves using the Risk Management Insurance models to compensate producers for the loss of productive land entered into vegetative buffers. This new commodity buffer program is designed to bridge the financial gap in current cost-share programs and encourage producers to cooperatively implement these practices on their farms. Project success will be evaluated by extensive watershed based field monitoring to track improvements in water, soil and habitat.

 

WRIA 1 Salmon Recovery & Water Quality Improvement

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $1 million (State)
  • Lead Partner:  Whatcom Conservation District
  • Number of Partners:  10
  • Participating State(s):  Washington

The Nooksack watershed is in the top three percent of agricultural producing counties in the nation and has threatened or endangered salmon species and imperiled shellfish harvest areas. Partners have recruited twenty-two landowners ready to implement priority projects remedying inadequate habitat for fish and wildlife in the Nooksack River watershed in North Puget Sound, Washington State. Partners will work with producers to: replace culverts on farm access roads, restoring fish passages in agricultural and rural areas; work with Tribes to construct instream wooden structures to provide habitat forsalmon; and integrate and publicize NRCS programs into the rural, agricultural and Tribal communities. The result will be higher priority and more strategic projects to recover salmon and improve water quality in downstream commercial, ceremonial and subsistence shellfish beds operated by the Lummi Nation.

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West Virginia

WV Chesapeake Headwaters Conservation Partnership

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $1 million (State)
  • Lead Partner:  West Virginia Agricultural Land Protection Authority
  • Number of Partners:  13
  • Participating State(s):  West Virginia

The project will target the placement of perpetual conservation easements on lands that are the most critical for the protection of water quality in the Chesapeake headwaters of West Virginia. A substantial portion of the region is karst, with a direct connection between ground water and surface water. The conduit flow of water in the subsurface limestone can lead to rapid distribution of pollutants directly to streams, rivers and ground-water systems. This region is also an important source of drinking water for over four million people in the Washington DC metro area. By incentivizing permanent buffers around sinkholes in karst areas, as well as buffers in riparian corridors and protecting high-quality forests, this project will ensure better protection for these sensitive areas. Landowner applicants for a perpetual conservation easement will include any willing landowner with 20 acres or more in the eight-county Chesapeake headwaters region who makes a legal application. Landowners may also voluntarily implement buffer practices as a result of the education and outreach program.

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Wisconsin

Driftless Area - Habitat for the Wild and Rare

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $2.9 million (National)
  • Lead Partner:  Trout Unlimited
  • Number of Partners:  30
  • Participating State(s):  Minnesota & Wisconsin (lead state)

The Driftless Area (DA) was bypassed by the last continental glacier and features steep valleys, sandstone bluffs and more than 600 unique spring-fed creeks and ridges once covered in prairie and scattered oaks. This ancient landscape supports a variety of plants and animals, including dozens of uncommon species of birds of woodland and grassland habitats, reptiles and amphibians, and abundant populations of native fish found in the high concentration of cold-water streams. The DA's diversity of habitat provides critical habitat for dozens of species of concern in the State Wildlife Action Plans, and has been cited as one of North America's most important resources. Early European settlement and agricultural practices took a heavy toll on the DA, resulting in devastating erosion and serious damage to rivers. Land use practices and conservation efforts have helped heal the land, but the legacy of the past damage is still visible in the sediment-filled valleys and steep, eroding stream banks. For the past nine years Trout Unlimited's Driftless Area Restoration Effort has been working with partners to restore structural diversity, ecological function and overall health. This project will provide a new comprehensive, targeted regional approach to restoring prairie, oak woodlands and streams for the benefit of the many at-risk species and abundant concentrations of native species found in the DA landscape.

 

Improving Working Lands for Monarch Butterflies

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $6 million (National)
  • Lead Partner:  National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
  • Number of Partners:  12
  • Participating State(s):  Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas (lead state) & Wisconsin

Our partnership will restore, manage and conserve wildlife habitat for monarch butterflies on agricultural and tribal lands using four main strategies: conservation planning and assessment; habitat improvement and best management practices; building an adequate seed supply for milkweed and nectar plants; and, enhancing organizational coordination and capacity. To provide the greatest conservation outcomes, the project will focus work within two NRCS Critical Conservation Areas: Prairie Grasslands Region and Mississippi River Basin. Targeted areas will be identified through a US Geological Survey-led initiative examining fine-scale opportunities for the restoration of milkweed and other pollinator plants. This project will contribute to national goals in terms of habitat and increase the number of monarch butterflies. This in turn will represent the best opportunity to avoid future regulations related to monarch butterflies from being imposed on farmers and ranchers in the future.

 

Milwaukee River Watershed Conservation Partnership

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $1.5 million (State)
  • Lead Partner:  Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District
  • Number of Partners:  18
  • Participating State(s):  Wisconsin

This diverse partnership will implement cost effective conservation solutions that will improve water quality and soil quality along the impaired Milwaukee River corridor. A major tributary to Lake Michigan, the Milwaukee River is plagued with water quality degradation caused in part by high levels of phosphorous and sediment-laden runoff. Project objectives include: 1) recruit landowner participation in EQIP and CSP by promoting EQIP practices through demonstration workshops, agriculture innovation field days and incentives; 2) protect eight properties across 765 acres on priority agricultural lands using ACEP-ALE; and 3) coordinate and facilitate diverse groups - a farmer-led watershed group, working lands group and citizen advisory committee -  to educate and promote conservation to farmers.

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Wyoming

Southeast Wyoming Wetlands Partnership

  • Proposed NRCS Investment:  $1 million (State)
  • Lead Partner:  Ducks Unlimited, Inc.
  • Number of Partners:  4
  • Participating State(s):  Wyoming

Partners will work with agricultural producers to help address NRCS priorities related to agricultural production, wildlife habitat development, water quality, sediment reduction and other natural resource issues. 

PDF of Wyoming projects

 

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