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News Release

USDA Invests More Than $16.5 Million to Protect Florida’s Natural Resources

Contact:
Nina Bhattacharyya
352-338-9554


GAINESVILLE, Fla., April 16, 2020 — USDA’s Natural Resources Service (NRCS) today announced that it is investing $16,508,441 million in Florida for partner-driven conservation projects through its Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). NRCS will leverage $20,822,664 million in partner contributions.

“I’m excited to announce the first RCPP awards under the 2018 Farm Bill,” said Florida State Conservationist Rafael Vega (acting). “Through collaboration and aligning our resources toward a common goal, we’re making an impact for natural resource conservation that could never have been realized on our own.”

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, 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 and conservation benefits.

In Florida, the North Florida Land Trust plans to combine resources from state and federal programs to permanently protect 8,500 acres, restore terrestrial habitat for imperiled species on 6,000 acres, and  protect military training near Camp Blanding in North Central Florida. Project activities will enhance habitat for longleaf pine-species like the gopher tortoise and red-cockaded woodpecker.

Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy near Tallahasse, Fla. proposes to leverage a diverse set of partners to enroll 5,000 acres in conservation easements and provide technical and financial assistance for 15,000 acres in the St. Marks River and Aucilla River watersheds. These adjoining watersheds contain conserved, well-managed natural habitats that allow for an increase in populations for listed wildlife species, improved water quality for residents, and economic benefits to surrounding communities.

Nationally, NRCS is investing $206 million for 48 partner-driven conservation projects across 29 states, while leveraging nearly $300 million in partner contributions.  View this multimedia story for a full list of projects.

Though RCPP was first authorized in the 2014 Farm Bill, the 2018 Farm Bill made changes to strengthen the program and simplify its rules.  RCPP is now a stand-alone program with $300 million annually available for partner-driven projects.  In addition to the general RCPP projects announced today, NRCS has already awarded more than $50 million for 18 renewals of 2014 Farm Bill projects. Since 2014, 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.

Read more about the Regional Conservation Partnership Program.