USDA Announces $252 Million for Conservation Partnership Program
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has invited potential conservation partners, including private industry, non-government organizations, Indian tribes, state and local governments, water districts, and universities to submit project applications for federal funding through the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP).
Through this fourth RCPP announcement for program funding, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will award up to $252 million nationwide to locally driven, public-private partnerships that improve the country’s water quality, combat drought, enhance soil health, support wildlife habitat, and protect agricultural viability. Applicants must match or exceed the federal award with private or local funds.
“Through unprecedented collaboration, the Regional Conservation Partnership Program has established a new concept for working lands conservation that yields unparalleled results,” said Connecticut NRCS State Conservationist Thomas L. Morgart. “Partners working on Connecticut’s RCPP projects have demonstrated how locally-led initiatives can meet some of our most pressing natural resource concerns,” he said.
Morgart was referring to three state and three national RCPP projects selected in previous years. They include:
- Paths to Reduce Pathogens in Connecticut Agricultural Runoff which addresses the degradation of soil and water from agricultural operations
- Achieving Agricultural Water Security in Connecticut through RCPP which focuses on achieving agricultural water security for agricultural producers
- Improving Soil Health and Water Quality in the Thames River Watershed which will help producers implement conservation practices that can improve soil health
- The Young Forest Initiative for At-Risk Species is a national project that will help non-industrial private forestland owners who implement practices that result in an increase in the quantity and quality of young forest habitats
- Accelerating the Pace of Conservation in the Southern New England Heritage Forest is also a national project that will serve as a conservation pipeline of forest and bird habitat plans
- The Long Island Sound Watershed RCPP national project will develop a program for farmers in the area to improve soil health and nutrient management, establish community resiliency areas with a focus on enhancing riparian areas, and institute a land protection program to protect agricultural and forestry areas
Created by the 2014 Farm Bill, RCPP connects partners with producers and private landowners to design and implement voluntary conservation solutions that benefit natural resources, agriculture, and the economy. By 2018, NRCS and its more than 2,000 conservation partners will have invested at least $2.4 billion in high-impact RCPP projects nationwide.
USDA is now accepting proposals for Fiscal Year 2018 RCPP funding. Pre-proposals are due April 21. For more information on applying, visit the RCPP website.