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News Release

USDA Invests More Than $15.4 Million in Partner-Driven Projects that Protect Natural Resources in California

RaeAnn Dubay (530) 792- 5653
Victor Hernandez (530) 792-5628

DAVIS, Calif., April 16, 2020 – USDA’s Natural Resources Service (NRCS) today announced that it is investing over $15.4 million in California for partner-driven conservation projects through its Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). NRCS will leverage an additional $25.2 million in partner contributions in California.

“I’m excited to announce the first RCPP awards under the 2018 Farm Bill,” said RaeAnn Dubay, NRCS assistant state conservationist for programs in California. “By leveraging collective resources and collaborating on common goals, RCPP demonstrates the power of partnerships in delivering results for agriculture and conservation."

RCPP uses a partner-driven approach to fund innovative solutions to natural resource challenges. Through RCPP, NRCS and partners work together with private landowners and producers to implement a variety of conservation activities, including land management practices and systems, short-term land rentals, conservation easements and watershed structures. The mix of conservation activities carried out under each project is dependent on a project’s goals, objectives and conservation benefits. These projects offer impactful and measurable outcomes.

In California, American Farmland Trust (AFT) will receive $10 million for the San Joaquin Valley Land and Water Conservation Collaboration to address water resource issues using cutting-edge planning tools that ensure the most efficient use of resources and result in the strategic protection and stewardship of agricultural land. California Rice Commission will receive nearly $5.5 million to engage rice producers in implementing a mix of proven and innovative wildlife practices on their farms to substantially increase the foraging, roosting, and nesting value of ricelands for wetland-dependent bird species in the Central Valley.

“AFT’s extensive research, planning and policy work, coupled with effective local partnerships have set the stage to rapidly scale up regenerative agricultural practices and farmland protection throughout the region,” said Kara Heckert, AFT’s California regional director.

“We are thrilled to have been selected for a second RCPP Grant to continue our long and successful legacy of working hand-in-hand with NRCS and other conservation partners to provide critical habitat for waterbirds here in Sacramento Valley,” said Paul Buttner, manager of environmental affairs at the California Rice Commission.

Since 2015, RCPP has combined $1 billion in NRCS investments with close to $2 billion in partner dollars to implement conservation practices nationwide. There are currently 341 active RCPP projects and close to 2,000 RCPP partners.

See complete list of projects at