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A salt marsh and a road in Tiverton, Rhode Island.

Regional Conservation Partnership Program - Rhode Island

RCPP
Apply by: May 17, 2024

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.

 

Latest Information

See a map of 2020 - 2022 Awarded Projects here.

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. 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. 

For more information on RCPP easements, visit the RCPP easement page


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.


2024 RCPP Funding Opportunities

Application Period Now Open

Proposals now being accepted for the 2024 RCPP until July 2, 2024, through the RCPP portal. Read the press release here

The full Notice of Funding Opportunities and details on eligibility requirements are available on Grants.gov:

Applicants are should contact Rhode Island State Conservationist, Phou Vongkhamdy, and state RCPP Coordinator, Marina Capraro, prior to submitting a proposal. NRCS will use a state conservation questionnaire to record the results of this conversation. Proposals without a completed questionnaire will have their score and ranking reduced.

More Information

Additional information can be found at the NRCS How to Apply to RCPP web page and on our applicant webinars:


Active RCPP Projects in Rhode Island

RCPP has two different types of projects: Classic and Alternative Funding Arrangements (AFA). RCPP Classic projects are implemented using NRCS contracts and easements with farmers, landowners and communities, in collaboration with project partners. Through RCPP AFA, the lead partner must work directly with farmers to support the development of new conservation structures and approaches that would not otherwise be available under RCPP Classic.    

The national 2023 RCPP Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) showcased a number of program improvements including increased project funding ceilings, simplified financial assistance and technical assistance structures, a stronger emphasis on locally led conservation, and easement deed flexibilities. Up to $500 million was available through RCPP for fiscal year 2023, of which up to $50 million prioritized AFAs with Indian Tribes.  

Interested applicants were encouraged to participate in upcoming webinars that will provide general information about this funding announcement. The webinars took place on May 24 and June 7, from 2-3:30 p.m. ET. Links were posted on the RCPP How to Apply website.

NRCS announces that the RI Forest Health Works Project is accepting applications for funding for fiscal year 2024. This year project partners will hold separate application ranking cutoff dates for our two different program options: March 1, 2024 for U.S.-Held Easements and May 17, 2024 for Entity-Held Easements.

Active RCPP Projects in Rhode Island

RI Forest Health Works RCPP
RI Statewide Natural Systems Demonstration RCPP

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 number.

If you don’t have a farm 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 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. View Application Ranking Dates by State.

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.