USDA is making a historic investment in conservation, including in the Regional Conservation Partnership Program.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced an unprecedented $1 billion investment in the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) to advance partner-driven solutions to conservation on agricultural land through 81 projects. Three Montana projects will receive more than $42.3 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 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 Tom Watson, State Conservationist in Montana 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. These factors in combination with the amazing partners that have brought their creativity and resources to the selected projects help deliver conservation to farmers, ranchers, and forestland owners at a larger scale than ever before.”
The three projects selected for funding in Montana focus on non-lethal predator risk management, irrigation improvement on the Blackfeet Nation, and forest landscape connectivity and health in the Bitterroot Valley.
The Stewarding the Working Wild project for non-lethal predator risk management will help producers address some of the many threats they currently face, including drought, soil degradation, invasive species, wildlife displacement, conversion pressure, and commodity market fluctuations. The Heart of the Rockies Initiative, and other contributing partners will provide a holistic approach to incentivize producers to implement solutions that benefit land, livestock, and wildlife. This project will support the biologically diverse working lands that produce food and fiber, sustaining both rural and urban communities; enhance ecosystem services including clean water, biodiversity, and carbon storage; and maintain connected lands that provide essential habitat and migratory corridors.
The Blackfeet Tribe and partners in the Blackfeet Irrigation Improvement project will provide sprinkler irrigation as on farm/ranch improvements to address conservation priorities as established by the Blackfeet Agricultural Resource Management Plan. These conservation activities will be located on both Tribal and Bureau of Indian Affairs irrigation projects and along rivers and streams in all six of the Blackfeet Nation’s watersheds. This allows the Blackfeet Water Department to put water rights onto the land and improve tribal farms and ranches in the process. It also provides tribal producers with the opportunity to improve their forage production for their livestock operations.
The Bitterroot Partnership for Forest Conservation, Resilience, and Connectivity project goal is to connect, conserve, and steward private forest lands in the Bitterroot Valley, Montana. Through this RCPP, the project will address forest health challenges the valley is facing and keep landscapes connected and resilient for the benefit of biodiversity, wildlife habitat, and safety of the local communities. Bitter Root Land Trust, NRCS, and other local partners will be collaborating with private landowners to conserve and steward forests in Ravalli County.
For a full list of selected projects nationwide visit our website.
Once the agreements between NRCS and the project partners are complete, details for each project will be posted on the NRCS Montana RCPP webpage. At that time, partners will begin accepting applications and implementing the projects.