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Regional Conservation Partnership Program

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Download announcement for program

Read testimonials from NRCS partners on forming healthy partnerships

See answers to frequently asked questions

 RCPP on the NRCS National website.

The Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) promotes coordination between NRCS and its partners to deliver conservation assistance to producers and landowners. NRCS provides assistance to producers through partnership agreements and through program contracts or easement agreements.

RCPP combines the authorities of four former conservation programs – the Agricultural Water Enhancement Program, the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Program, the Cooperative Conservation Partnership Initiative and the Great Lakes Basin Program. Assistance is delivered in accordance with the rules of EQIP, CSP, ACEP and HFRP; and in certain areas the Watershed Operations and Flood Prevention Program.

Benefits

RCPP encourages partners to join in efforts with producers to increase the restoration and sustainable use of soil, water, wildlife and related natural resources on regional or watershed scales.

Through RCPP, NRCS and its partners help producers install and maintain conservation activities in selected project areas.  Partners leverage RCPP funding in project areas and report on the benefits achieved.  The Secretary of Agriculture may also designate up to eight critical conservation areas to focus RCPP assistance.

Funding

Funding for RCPP is allocated to projects in three different categories.

Thumbnail of map outlining CCA areas Thumbnail of map of US salmon-colored placeholder map

Critical Conservation Areas

For projects in eight geographic areas chosen by Secretary. These receive 35 percent of funding. Learn more.

Mississippi River Basin

  • Overall Goal: Reduce nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment loads from private lands.
  • Resource Concern Priorities:
  • Water Quality Degradation: Excess nutrients and pesticides in surface and ground waters; excessive sediment in surface waters
  • Insufficient Water: Inefficient use of irrigation water (associated with Water Quality Degradation)
  • Inadequate Habitat for Fish and Wildlife: Habitat degradation

National

For nationwide and multistate projects. These receive 40 percent of funding. Learn more.

National Priorities

  • Water quantity;
  • Water quality;
  • Soil health;
  • At-risk species habitat; and
  • Air quality.

State

For projects in a single state. These receive 25 percent of funding. Learn more.

Arkansas Priorities

  • Energy
  • Plant Health
  • Soil Health
  • Water Quality
  • Water Quantity
  • Wildlife

Conservation program contracts and easement agreements are implemented through the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP), Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) or the Healthy Forests Reserve Program (HFRP). NRCS may also utilize the authorities under the Watershed and Flood Prevention Program, other than the Watershed Rehabilitation Program, in the designated critical conservation areas.

Eligibility

Eligible Partners - Agricultural or silvicultural producer associations, farmer cooperatives or other groups of producers, state or local governments, American Indian tribes, municipal water treatment entities, water and irrigation districts, conservation-driven nongovernmental organizations and institutions of higher education.

Eligible Participants - Under RCPP, eligible producers and landowners of agricultural land and non-industrial private forestland may enter into conservation program contracts or easement agreements under the framework of a partnership agreement.  RCPP assistance is also available independent of a partner if the land is located either in a partner project area or in a critical conservation area designated by the Secretary. 

How to Apply

NRCS will release an announcement for program funding, that will outline requirements for proposal submissions for funding. NRCS will review partnership proposals according to the priorities identified in the announcement and make project selections. Upon selection of a partnership proposal, NRCS and the partner will enter into a partnership agreement through which they will coordinate to provide producers in the project area assistance. Partnership agreements may be for a period of up to five years. NRCS may extend an agreement one time for an additional 12 months if needed to meet the objectives of the program.

Full Announcement for Program Funding (PDF, 12 MB) May 27, 2014

Producers may apply for RCPP assistance in several ways:
  1. At the producer's request, a partner may submit the application for participation in a selected project area
  2. Directly at their local USDA Service Center in a selected project area

Partnership Agreements

The partnership agreement defines the scope of the project, including:

  1. Eligible activities to be implemented
  2. Potential agricultural or nonindustrial private forest operation affected
  3. Local, state, multi-state or other geographic area covered
  4. Planning, outreach, implementation, and assessment to be conducted. Partners are responsible for contributing to the cost of the project, conducting outreach and education to eligible producers for potential participation in the project and for conducting an assessment of the project’s effects. In addition, partners may act on behalf of the eligible landowner or producer in applying for assistance and for leveraging financial or technical assistance provided by NRCS with additional funds to help achieve the project objectives.

Before closing the agreement the partner must provide an assessment of the project costs and conservation effects.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: When are project applications due?

A: Preproposal applications are due July 14, 2014. Full proposals will be due September 26, 2014. Full proposals will be accepted only from applicants who are notified at the end of the preproposal review process that their application has been identified for further evaluation

Q: When will NRCS notify applicants that their project has been selected?

A: NRCS will notify applicants of the status of preproposals by July 28, 2014. NRCS will make final project selections based on the review of full proposals by October 17, 2014.

Q: Where should partners send applications?

A: All applications must be sent to NRCS National Headquarters. Partners may submit applications using ONE of the three methods described below. Partners should not send applications using more than one method.

  1. The preferred method of submission is by email to RCPP@wdc.usda.gov
  2. Applicants may send a paper copy to:
    Mark A. Rose, Director Financial Assistance Programs Division
    Department of Agriculture
    Natural Resources Conservation Service
    RCPP Application
    P.O. Box 2890
    Washington, D.C. 20013-2890
  3. Applicants may submit the application electronically on Grants.gov.

Important Notice for RCPP Applicants

The Grants.gov website will be down for maintenance the weekend of July 12-14, 2014.

During those dates, please submit applications through email, RCPP@wdc.usda.gov; or postal mail:

Director
Financial Assistance Programs Division
Department of Agriculture
Natural Resources Conservation Service
RCPP Application
P.O. Box 2890
Washington, D.C. 20013-2890

For more information, see the RCPP FAQ page.

Read testimonials from NRCS partners on forming successful partnerships.

For applicants submitting an application for the State funding pool, the applicant must also provide a copy of the application to the appropriate State Conservationist. A <a href="/wps/portal/nrcs/detail//?cid=nrcsdev11_000240" _cke_saved_href="/wps/portal/nrcs/detail//?cid=nrcsdev11_000240" "="" target="_blank">list of State Conservationists and their addresses is located here</a>. Email is the preferred method for submission.</p> <p> <strong>Q: How will funding be distributed for selected projects?</strong></p> <p> A: <span scayt_word="NRCS" scaytid="21">NRCS</span> will provide financial assistance and technical assistance in selected project areas for the programs identified in the project agreement.</p> <p> In most cases, <span scayt_word="NRCS" scaytid="22">NRCS</span> will administer <strong>financial assistance</strong> directly to farmers, ranchers, and private foresters who apply for eligible conservation practices in the project area and who are selected for funding. <span scayt_word="NRCS" scaytid="23">NRCS</span> will provide financial assistance in the project area up to the amount identified in the project proposal. However, the amount of funding available will depend on congressional appropriations and apportionment from the Office of Management and Budget.</p> <p> <span scayt_word="NRCS" scaytid="24">NRCS</span> will allocate <strong>technical assistance</strong> funds to support conservation planning and implementation in selected project areas. <span scayt_word="NRCS" scaytid="25">NRCS</span> may allocate technical assistance to support <span scayt_word="NRCS" scaytid="26">NRCS</span> personnel who provide these services to farmers, ranchers, and private foresters.</p> <p> Partners may also request technical assistance to support activities such as resource assessment, conservation practice survey and design, conservation planning, conservation implementation, water quality activities, resource monitoring, and follow-up of installed practices.</p> <p> Partners who include a request for technical assistance funds in their project application are encouraged to work with the appropriate <span scayt_word="NRCS" scaytid="27">NRCS</span> State Conservationist(s) to determine eligible activities.</p> <p> <span scayt_word="Multistate" scaytid="62">Multistate</span> water resource agencies or authorities may apply for an <strong>alternative funding arrangement.</strong> If approved, entities with an alternative funding arrangement may receive <span scayt_word="NRCS" scaytid="28">NRCS</span> financial and technical assistance to enter into contracts and agreements with farmers, ranchers, and private foresters. Partners entering into an alternative funding arrangement must adhere to program and reporting requirements. Details are provided in the <a href="/wps/PA_NRCSConsumption/download?cid=stelprdb1254231&ext=pdf" _cke_saved_href="/wps/PA_NRCSConsumption/download?cid=stelprdb1254231&ext=pdf" target="_blank"><span scayt_word="RCPP" scaytid="46">RCPP</span> Announcement of Program Funding</a>.</p> <p> <strong><span scayt_word="NRCS" scaytid="29">NRCS</span> funds may not be used for the partner's administrative expenses (for example, rent, utilities, space used by staff, copies, phones, IT support, etc., that are used by all staff and not directly related to the project).</strong></p> <p> <strong>Q: How is the "significant contribution" of partners defined?</strong></p> <p> A: An eligible partner must provide a significant portion of the overall cost of the project. The overall cost includes direct financial assistance (FA) to producers, technical assistance (TA), and other in-kind services, such as outreach and education, monitoring, and administrative services.</p> <p> Priority will be given to those applications that significantly leverage non-Federal financial and technical resources. <span scayt_word="NRCS" scaytid="30">NRCS</span> has a goal of leveraging an amount equal to the Federal investment; therefore, partner applications that meet or exceed the amount requested from <span scayt_word="NRCS" scaytid="31">NRCS</span> (direct or in-kind) will be the most competitive.</p> <h3> More Information</h3> <p> <a href="/wps/PA_NRCSConsumption/download?cid=stelprdb1252536&ext=pdf" _cke_saved_href="/wps/PA_NRCSConsumption/download?cid=stelprdb1252536&ext=pdf"><span scayt_word="RCPP" scaytid="47">RCPP</span> Fact Sheet </a>(PDF, <span scayt_word="391KB" scaytid="63">391KB</span>)</p> <p> To learn how to get started with <span scayt_word="NRCS" scaytid="32">NRCS</span>, visit <a href="http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/getstarted" _cke_saved_href="http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/getstarted"><span scayt_word="www.nrcs.usda.gov" scaytid="5">www.nrcs.usda.gov</span>/<span scayt_word="GetStarted" scaytid="64">GetStarted</span></a></p> <p style="vertical-align: bottom;"> Find your local USDA Service Center <a href="http://offices.sc.egov.usda.gov/locator/app" _cke_saved_href="http://offices.sc.egov.usda.gov/locator/app"><img alt="nrcs office locator graphic" src="/Internet/FSE_MEDIA/stelprdb1244486.gif" _cke_saved_src="/Internet/FSE_MEDIA/stelprdb1244486.gif" style="width: 175px; height: 48px; float: right; margin-right: 250px; margin-top: -13px; position: relative;"></a></p> <p> <a href="https://public.govdelivery.com/accounts/USDANRCS/subscriber/new?topic_id=USDANRCS_66" _cke_saved_href="https://public.govdelivery.com/accounts/USDANRCS/subscriber/new?topic_id=USDANRCS_66"><img alt="GovDelivery envelope image" src="/Internet/FSE_MEDIA/stelprdb1048275.png" _cke_saved_src="/Internet/FSE_MEDIA/stelprdb1048275.png" style="width: 16px; height: 16px; float: left; margin: 5px;"></a><a href="https://public.govdelivery.com/accounts/USDANRCS/subscriber/new?topic_id=USDANRCS_66" _cke_saved_href="https://public.govdelivery.com/accounts/USDANRCS/subscriber/new?topic_id=USDANRCS_66">Sign up for Farm Bill email updates</a></p> <p> <a href="/contentcx/STELPRDB1242382" _cke_saved_href="/contentcx/STELPRDB1242382">Return to <span scayt_word="NRCS" scaytid="33">NRCS</span> Farm Bill Homepage</a></p> </div> <p></p>