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Asst. Chief announces $1.2 billion for new conservation program

Hanlin and ColvinOlympia, Wash. (June 5, 2014) – USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service Assistant Chief, Kirk Hanlin, was in Olympia on Tuesday to announce a new conservation program, the Regional Conservation Partnership Program. At Fred Colvin’s Ranch near Tenino, WA, Hanlin announced RCPP to potential conservation partners that include non-governmental organizations like The Nature Conservancy and American Farmland Trust, as well as state, federal and tribal governments, and discussed the goals and objectives of the Farm Bill 2014 program. The Colvins are multi-generation ranchers who raise grass-fed beef and provide a shining example of how smart stewardship can ensure productive working lands are protective of natural resources.

Klingel WetlandsHanlin also met with nearly 30 partners in Olympia, WA to further discuss RCPP and answer questions related to the program. Potential partners showed enthusiasm for the possibilities this new program brings, including local jobs, economic development, and accelerated conservation efforts. This was one of many stops on Hanlin’s tour of Washington State, which included conservation project visits at Klingel Wetlands, the Pacific Northwest Salmon Center, Nisqually Shellfish Farm, and the Black River Dairy. These projects are examples of how working with partners can multiply the results of conservation on the ecosystem, which is one of the aims of this new program. USDA is hoping to double their investment in natural resources conservation by working with partners who will bring funding and technical capacity to local and regional conservation projects.

RCPP will competitively award funds to conservation projects designed by local partners specifically for their region. Eligible partners include private companies, universities, non-profit organizations, local and tribal governments and others joining with agricultural and conservation organizations and producers to invest money, manpower and materials to their proposed projects.

“RCPP is an opportunity for new partners to come to the table with conservation dollars, technical knowledge, and support for getting conservation on the ground,” said State Conservationist, Roylene Rides at the Door, who was also on hand at the Colvin Ranch.

With participating partners investing along with the Department, USDA’s $1.2 billion in funding over the life of the five-year program will leverage $2.4 billion for conservation. Through RCPP, partners propose conservation projects to improve soil health, water quality and water use efficiency, wildlife habitat, and other related natural resources on private lands.

To learn more about RCPP, or find out how to submit a proposal, go here.

To learn about technical and financial assistance available through conservation programs, visit www.nrcs.usda.gov/GetStarted or local USDA service center. For more on the 2014 Farm Bill, visit www.nrcs.usda.gov/FarmBill