Recent Florida Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) projects will receive over $40.2 million in funding.
GAINESVILLE, Florida – November 3, 2023 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced improvements to the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) as well as an unprecedented $1 billion investment to advance partner-driven solutions to conservation on agricultural land through 81 projects. Recent Florida projects will receive over $40.2 million in funding. RCPP leverages a voluntary approach to conservation that expands the reach of conservation efforts and climate-smart agriculture through public-private partnerships. Historic funding is made possible by both the Inflation Reduction Act, part of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, and the Farm Bill.
“The unprecedented demand for the Regional Conservation Partnership Program, shows how much interest there is from producers and partners for voluntary conservation on the ground,” said Walter Albarran, Acting State Conservationist in Florida for USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). “USDA is making historic investments and streamlining the program to make it work better for producers and partners. The combination of historic investments and streamlining actions will deliver conservation at a scale never before achieved through RCPP.”
In Florida, two projects were approved for funding:
Lake to Lagoon RCPP – Funded at $25 million, this project led by Alachua Conservation Trust will accelerate land protection and land management to protect environmentally sensitive and working lands and benefit regional climate mitigation in the low-lying region of East Central Florida, which is bound by large lakes and rivers on the west boundary, and Mosquito and Indian River Lagoons along the Atlantic Coast. The nearly 1.2-million-acre region is home to nearly a million Floridians, as well as a diversity of wildlife, wildlands, and rural farms and timberlands. The Lake to Lagoon faces major climate-induced changes, including increased sea level rise, storm intensity, droughts, and wildfire. Moreover, county populations will increase by 20-50 percent by midcentury.
Corridor to Coast (C2C) – Led by North Florida Land Trust, this project was funded at over $15.2 million to protect and improve ecological conditions of the C2C Corridor all the way out to the East Coast. This includes protection of natural areas, wildlife habitat, and regional water quality as compatible with working lands and the natural resource-based economy of the area. In conjunction, the North Florida Land Trust aims to promote conservation activities that assist State and Federal military installations with sustaining their military training mission. Through the Army Compatible Use Buffer Program, funding is available to complement protection of land around the training center in Camp Blanding, located within the heart of the C2C.
Unprecedented RCPP Funding
The Farm Bill and Inflation Reduction Act provided funding for this year’s RCPP projects. With this $1.1 billion investment, NRCS has more than doubled the initial allocation for 2023 to capitalize on the unprecedented demand for RCPP and ensure project partners have the maximum amount of time to successfully implement conservation activities before funds expire in fiscal year 2031. Nationwide, there are:
- 77 climate-focused projects ($1.02 billion in funding).
- Twenty-two projects focused on water quantity and conservation (more than $338 million in funding).
- Three RCPP Classic projects are led by Tribes (more than $58 million in funding).
- Sixteen projects support the protection and restoration of wildlife corridors ($216 million in funding).
- Ten projects focus on urban agriculture ($123 million in funding).
For a full list of selected projects visit our website.
Since inception, RCPP has made 717 awards involving over 4,000 partner organizations.
Inflation Reduction Act Boosts Voluntary Conservation Programs
Through the Inflation Reduction Act, USDA has enrolled more farmers and more acres in voluntary conservation programs than at any point in history, following a backlog that has existed for years. In 2023, USDA enrolled nearly 5,300 additional producers in conservation programs across all 50 states (above what otherwise would have been possible through Farm Bill and appropriations funding), which will provide significant climate mitigation benefits. This includes:
- $100 million through the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP);
- $250 million through the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP); and
- $250 million through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).
In total, the Inflation Reduction Act provides $19.5 billion over five years to support USDA’s oversubscribed conservation programs, and it represents the single largest investment in climate and clean energy solutions in American history.
USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. In the Biden-Harris administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit www.usda.gov.
Florida RCPP Project Maps