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RPCC

Regional Conservation Partnership Program - Ohio

RCPP
November 14, 2022

The Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) is a partner-driven approach to conservation that funds solutions to natural resource challenges on agricultural land. 

By leveraging collective resources and collaborating on common goals, RCPP demonstrates the power of public-private partnerships in delivering results for agriculture and conservation.

RCPP projects fall under two different categories: RCPP Classic and RCPP Grants. RCPP Classic projects are implemented using NRCS contracts and easements with producers, landowners and communities, in collaboration with project partners. Through RCPP Grants, the lead partner must work directly with agricultural producers to support the development of new conservation structures and approaches that would not otherwise be available under RCPP Classic.

 

2022 Awarded Projects

Successful RCPP projects embody the following core principles:

1. Impact—RCPP applications must propose effective and compelling solutions that address one or more natural resource priorities to help solve natural resource challenges. Partners are responsible for evaluating a project’s impact and results.

2. Partner Contributions—Partners are responsible for identifying any combination of cash and in-kind value-added contributions to leverage NRCS’s RCPP investments. It is NRCS’s goal that partner contributions at least equal the NRCS investment in an RCPP project. Substantive partner contributions are given priority consideration as part of the RCPP application evaluation criteria. 

3. Innovation—NRCS seeks projects that integrate multiple conservation approaches, implement innovative conservation approaches or technologies, build new partnerships, and effectively take advantage of program flexibilities to deliver conservation solutions.

4. Partnerships and Management—Partners must have experience, expertise, and capacity to manage the partnership and project, provide outreach to producers, and quantify the environmental outcomes of an RCPP project. RCPP ranking criteria give preference to applicants that meaningfully engage historically underserved farmers and ranchers.

RCPP Conservation Activities

RCPP projects may include a range of on-the-ground conservation activities implemented by farmers, ranchers and forest landowners. These activities include:

  • Land management/land improvement/restoration practices
  • Land rentals
  • Entity-held easements
  • United States-held easements
  • Public works/watersheds

A single RCPP project application can propose to employ any combination of these eligible activity types as part of an RCPP project. 

 


RCPP Funding Pools

RCPP funding is divided evenly among two funding pools:

NRCS RCPP Critical Conservation areas map

Critical Conservation Areas

For projects in eight geographic areas chosen by the Secretary of Agriculture. These receive 50 percent of funding. Learn more about RCPP Critical Conservation Areas.

 

NRCS RCPP States

State/Multistate
For projects in a single state or across several states. These receive 50 percent of funding. 


Who is Eligible

Partner Eligibility

Eligible organizations interested in partnering with NRCS on conservation projects can develop applications for the RCPP competition. The lead partner for an RCPP project is the entity that submits an application, and if selected for an award is ultimately responsible for collaborating with NRCS to successfully complete an RCPP project.

See the RCPP funding announcement for details about what types of organizations are eligible to apply.  

Producer and Landowner Eligibility

Once NRCS selects a project and executes an RCPP agreement with a lead partner, agricultural producers may participate in an RCPP project in one of two ways. First, producers may engage with project partners and delegate a willing partner to act as their representative in working with NRCS. Second, producers seeking to carry out conservation activities consistent with a RCPP project in the project’s geographic area can apply directly to NRCS.

Land Eligibility

RCPP projects must be carried out on agricultural or nonindustrial private forest land or associated land on which NRCS determines an eligible activity would help achieve conservation benefits (i.e., improved condition of natural resources resulting from implementation of conservation activities).

Eligible conservation activities may be implemented on public lands when those activities will benefit eligible lands as determined by NRCS and are included in the scope of an approved RCPP project.

Mountain

How to Apply

Potential partners are invited to propose RCPP projects where NRCS and partners co-invest in impactful and innovative solutions to on-farm, watershed, and regional natural resource concerns. 

Two women overlook the completed two-stage Shatto Ditch

Resources for Lead Partners

Resources to help awarded partners negotiate an RCPP Programmatic Partnership Agreement, Supplemental Agreements, and how to work with NRCS to implement conservation activities on the ground.

University of Notre Dame grad student, Shannon Speir, takes water samples at a tile drain site.

RCPP in Action

RCPP projects are making an impact across the country.


Ohio Priorities

  • Water Quality Degradation
  • Soil Quality Degradation
  • Soil Erosion

How to Apply to RCPP

NRCS accepts applications for RCPP on a continuous basis. We announce signup cutoff deadlines as funds become available. For Fiscal Year 2023, the first application cutoff date for new RCPP contracts is to be announced. 

Ohio RCPP Funding Available to Producers

Tri-State Western Lake Erie Basin Collaboration RCPP: Indiana, Michigan and Ohio have joined forces with over 30 partners, including the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Ohio Farm Bureau, and the Ohio State University to help participating farmers improve soil health and reduce nutrient loading impacts in the Western Lake Erie Basin. The partnership will use sophisticated targeting tools to work with producers and landowners operating near the Maumee headwaters, an area identified as a source of high levels of excess phosphorus, with technical and financial assistance opportunities.

Spotted Knapweed Treatment for Ohio Producers (STOP) RCPP: This project will focus on treating and controlling spotted knapweed and other invasive species in four Appalachian counties: Guernsey, Morgan, Muskingum and Noble.  These counties have experienced an exponential spread of spotted knapweed in privately owned pastures and hay land.  Producers will receive assistance to help plan and implement conservation measures to pastures and permanent hay land to improve their grazing and hay land operations.

Rocky Fork RCPP: Highland Soil and Water Conservation District and five local state and federal partners will work with producers and landowners to protect water quality, reduce soil erosion, and provide habitat for at-risk species in the Rocky Fork Watershed. The partnership will help producers implement cover crops, field borders, and filter strips to reduce soil erosion and nutrient runoff, helping alleviate algal blooms in Rocky Fork Lake

H2Ohio Expansion RCPP: The Ohio Department of Agriculture will use RCPP funding to complement its H2Ohio initiative, launched in 2019. The initiative focuses land management practice and system implementation to reduce Lake Erie nutrient enrichment. A diverse group of 20 partners intend to focus this project on farms and farmers in a 10-county portion of the Western Lake Erie Basin (WLEB) not currently included in the H2Ohio program, thereby accelerating progress toward achieving Ohio's commitment to the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement.

 


Active RCPP Projects

Ohio RCPP Projects - Selected 2022

Project: Financing Climate Smart Agriculture in Ohio's Miami Valley
Lead Partner: one.two.five Benefit Corporation
NRCS Funding Amount: $2,900,000

Targeting an urban and rural network of BIPOC farmers as well as non-BIPOC farmers, the Financing Climate Smart Agriculture project will spur the adoption of NRCS-based conservation practices and systems designed to enhance soil quality and soil carbon storage. This project will advance the most pressing issues for climate smart agriculture, including soil carbon capture and retention by establishing a pay-for -performance compensation approach for farmers who adopt climate-smart agriculture practices and systems. The project area encompasses a diverse landscape of urban and rural and small and large farms and is home to over 1 million inhabitants, 5,000 farms and 8,000 producers spread across six counties.

Ohio RCPP Projects - Selected 2021

Project: H2Ohio Western Lake Erie Basin
Lead Partner: Ohio Department of Agriculture
NRCS Funding Amount: $8,000,000

The Ohio Department of Agriculture will use RCPP funding to complement its H2Ohio initiative, launched in 2019. The initiative focuses land management practice and system implementation to reduce Lake Erie nutrient enrichment. A diverse group of 20 partners intend to focus this project on farms and farmers in a 10-county portion of the Western Lake Erie Basin (WLEB) not currently included in the H2Ohio program, thereby accelerating progress toward achieving Ohio's commitment to the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement.

Project: Tri-State Western Lake Erie Basin - Collaboration
Lead Partner: Indiana State Department of Agriculture
NRCS Funding Amount: $8,000,000

Indiana, Michigan, Ohio Department of Natural Resources and Ohio State University will join forces with over 30 partners to help participating farmers improve soil health and reduce nutrient loading impacts in the Western Lake Erie Basin. The partnership will use sophisticated targeting tools to work with producers and landowners operating near the Maumee headwaters, an area identified as a source of high levels of excess phosphorus, with technical and financial assistance opportunities.

Project: OSU Pilot Watershed Project
Lead Partner: Ohio State University
NRCS Funding Amount: $6,839,113

Ohio State University and partners plan to establish a pilot watershed in the larger Western Lake Erie Basin to test water quality management strategies with the goal of reducing phosphorus concentrations in local water bodies. The project will improve water quality monitoring infrastructure and incentivize participation through an “agglomeration bonus” that increases payments as more producers implement practices. Project partners anticipate that implementation of project activities will help the pilot watershed reach the Great Lakes Water Quality threshold for the first time since water quality has been monitored in the watershed.

Project: Rocky Fork
Lead Partner: Highland Soil and Water Conservation District
NRCS Funding Amount: $873,152

Highland Soil and Water Conservation District and five local state and federal partners will work with producers and landowners to protect water quality, reduce soil erosion, and provide habitat for at-risk species in the Rocky Fork Watershed. The partnership will help producers implement cover crops, field borders, and filter strips to reduce soil erosion and nutrient runoff, helping alleviate algal blooms in Rocky Fork Lake.

Ohio RCPP Projects - Selected 2020

Project: Soil and Water Outcomes - Scioto Watershed
Lead Partner: Ag Technology and Environmental Stewardship Foundation
NRCS Funding Amount: $7,307,000

The Agriculture Technology and Environmental Stewardship Foundation will incorporate an innovative pay-for-performance approach to compensate producers for water quality and soil health improvements using independently verified environmental outcomes. RCPP funding and partner contributions will create a pool of pay-for-performance funds used to pay for the verified nitrogen and phosphorus reductions and verified emissions reductions resulting from practice implementation. The project aims to support the implementation of conservation practices on 180,000 cropland acres in Illinois, Iowa and Ohio.

Ohio RCPP Projects - Selected 2018

Project: Spotted Knapweed Treatment for Ohio Producers
Lead Partner: Morgan Soil & Water Conservation District
NRCS Funding Amount: $563,000

The Spotted Knapweed Treatment for Ohio Producers (STOP) Project will focus on the treatment and control of spotted knapweed and other invasive weeds in four Appalachian counties in Southeastern Ohio. These counties have each experienced an exponential spread of spotted knapweed along state, county, township, and private roadways, which led to its severe invasion into surrounding privately owned pastures and hay lands. Through this project, the Morgan County Soil and Water Conservation District and its partners will provide Environmental Quality Incentives Program financial assistance to producers to address soil erosion, water quality degradation, excessive plant pest pressure and degraded plant condition to restore degraded pastures and hay land.


Historical RCPP Accomplishments

Project: Jacoby Creek Partnership
Lead Partner: Tecumseh Land Trust
NRCS Funding Amount: $1,440,000

Tecumseh Land Trust (TLT) and its partners aim to improve water quality in the Little Miami River’s Jacoby Creek and Yellow Springs Creek sub watersheds, to demonstrate and document the benefits of best agricultural conservation practices for water quality, aquatic and wildlife habitat, and soil health. The Jacoby Creek Partnership also seeks to permanently preserve prime farmland and well-functioning stream corridors.

Ohio RCPP Projects - Selected 2016

Project: Clear Creek
Lead Partner: Highland Soil and Water Conservation District
NRCS Funding Amount: $425,000

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 has 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. 

Ohio RCPP Projects - Selected 2014/2015

Project: Tri-State Western Lake Erie Basin Phosphorus Reduction Initiative
Lead Partner: Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development
NRCS Funding Amount: $17,500,000

A diverse team of partners will use a targeted approach to identify high-priority sub-watersheds for phosphorus reduction and increase farmer access to public and private technical assistance—including innovative demonstrations of practices that NRCS does not yet cover—in Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana. Identified actions are coordinated with the Ohio Phosphorus Task Force Report and will move Lake Erie toward goals developed in the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement Annex 4 Nutrient Strategies. The partners will gauge success and monitor results using project-wide water quality monitoring and watershed modeling conducted by national experts from multiple scientific entities and institutions.

Project: Cerulean Warbler Appalachian Forestland Enhancement
Lead Partner: American Bird Conservancy
NRCS Funding Amount: $8,000,000

To address habitat loss, soil health, and water quality, the project will focus on suites of conservation practices intended to enhance acres of forest habitat on private lands for cerulean warblers, an at-risk species, and associated species. The Nature Conservancy has committed to enrolling additional acres into easements, and the American Chestnut Foundation, the Appalachian Regional Reforestation Initiative, and Green Forests Work will reforest acres of reclaimed mine lands to biodiverse forest.

Project: Promoting BMPs for Phosphorus Reduction
Lead Partner: Delaware Soil & Water Conservation District
NRCS Funding Amount: $1,000,000

The Delaware, Knox, Licking and Morrow Soil and Water Conservation Districts and the Upper Big Walnut Creek Water Quality Partnership will assist agricultural producers install phosphorus reducing best management practices on land in the Upper Big Walnut Creek watershed. This watershed, located in Delaware County, drains into the Hoover and O’Shaughnessy Reservoirs, the drinking water supply for the City of Columbus, Ohio. In addition to the phosphorus reducing conservation practices, the proposal also provides for the installation of two enriched bioreactors, water quality monitoring and data analysis

Project: East Fork Watershed Nutrient Reduction Initiative
Lead Partner: Clermont Soil and Water Conservation District
NRCS Funding Amount: $600,000

Nutrients and sediment, including phosphorus and nitrogen, transported in water leaving agricultural fields within the East Fork of the Little Miami River watershed ultimately contribute to hypoxia in the Gulf of Mexico and exacerbate locally occurring harmful algal blooms in East Fork Lake. The project sponsors will assist agricultural producers with installing nutrient and sediment reducing best management practices to improve water quality, reduce algal growth, and create a smart phone app to assist producers make fertilizer and management decisions. Edge-of-field and in-stream water quality monitoring in conjunction with algae sampling will demonstrate the impact of this project on water quality.

 

Ready to get started?

Contact your local service center to start your application.

Find Your Local Service Center

USDA Service Centers are locations where you can connect with Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service, or Rural Development employees for your business needs. Enter your state and county below to find your local service center and agency offices. If this locator does not work in your browser, please visit offices.usda.gov.

How to Get Assistance

Do you farm or ranch and want to make improvements to the land that you own or lease?

Natural Resources Conservation Service offers technical and financial assistance to help farmers, ranchers and forest landowners.

how to get started

To get started with NRCS, we recommend you stop by your local NRCS field office. We’ll discuss your vision for your land.

NRCS provides landowners with free technical assistance, or advice, for their land. Common technical assistance includes: resource assessment, practice design and resource monitoring. Your conservation planner will help you determine if financial assistance is right for you.

We’ll walk you through the application process. To get started on applying for financial assistance, we’ll work with you:

  • To fill out an AD 1026, which ensures a conservation plan is in place before lands with highly erodible soils are farmed. It also ensures that identified wetland areas are protected.
  • To meet other eligibility certifications.

Once complete, we’ll work with you on the application, or CPA 1200.

Applications for most programs are accepted on a continuous basis, but they’re considered for funding in different ranking periods. Be sure to ask your local NRCS district conservationist about the deadline for the ranking period to ensure you turn in your application in time.

As part of the application process, we’ll check to see if you are eligible. To do this, you’ll need to bring:

  • An official tax ID (Social Security number or an employer ID)
  • A property deed or lease agreement to show you have control of the property; and
  • A farm tract number.

If you don’t have a farm tract number, you can get one from USDA’s Farm Service Agency. Typically, the local FSA office is located in the same building as the local NRCS office. You only need a farm tract number if you’re interested in financial assistance.

NRCS will take a look at the applications and rank them according to local resource concerns, the amount of conservation benefits the work will provide and the needs of applicants.

If you’re selected, you can choose whether to sign the contract for the work to be done.

Once you sign the contract, you’ll be provided standards and specifications for completing the practice or practices, and then you will have a specified amount of time to implement. Once the work is implemented and inspected, you’ll be paid the rate of compensation for the work if it meets NRCS standards and specifications.