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News Release

USDA Announces $260 Million Available for Regional Conservation Partnership Program

Chris Groskreutz

Natural Resources
Conservation Service
355 East Hancock Ave., Ste. 212
Athens, GA, 30601
Web:  http://

Release No.: 000010.16   ­

Printable Version

USDA Announces $260 Million Available for Regional Conservation Partnership Program

Applications sought with a focus on environmental markets, conservation finance

ATHENS, GA, March 15, 2016 — USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) yesterday announced the availability of up to $260 million for partner proposals to improve the nation's water quality, combat drought, enhance soil health, support wildlife habitat and protect agricultural viability. The funding is being made available through NRCS’ innovative Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP).

Pre-proposals for Fiscal Year 2017, are due May 10. Applicants must be able to match the federal award with private or local funds.

Created by the 2014 Farm Bill, RCPP investments of nearly $600 million have already driven 199 partner-led projects, including six projects that benefit Georgia. The program leverages local leadership to establish partnerships that can include private companies, local and tribal governments, universities, non-profits and other non-government partners to work with farmers, ranchers and forest landowners on landscape- and watershed-scale conservation solutions that work best for their region. This will be the third round of funding through RCPP, helping USDA build on record enrollment in all voluntary conservation programs, with more than 500,000 producers participating to protect land and water on over 400 million acres nationwide.

“This program is an example of government working at its best. We’re empowering local leaders, communities and private landowners to take control and identify what the needs are in their backyards,” said Terrance O. Rudolph, NRCS state conservationist in Georgia. “This year, NRCS is also encouraging partners to submit FY 2017 RCPP applications that support environmental markets and conservation finance projects.”

One of the 2016 high-impact projects announced in February, The Southern Sentinel Landscapes Conservation project has 20 partners with the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities taking the lead. This project will span across three states; Georgia, Mississippi and North Carolina. This project will protect and restore 17,500 – 21,500 acres of longleaf and other working forest habitats on private lands important for at-risk species. The goal of this multistate effort is to reduce the likelihood that target species will be listed under the Endangered Species Act and to demonstrate the compatibility of working lands management with at-risk species conservation. These sites and species address shared conservation interests of the Departments of Agriculture, Defense, and Interior on proposed or potential Sentinel Landscapes. The project advances goals of the Range-wide Conservation Plan for Longleaf Pine, the NRCS Longleaf Pine Initiative, and each state’s Forest and Wildlife Action Plans, while also contributing to military installation compatible-use buffers. This proposal builds on the RCPP award the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities received in 2014.

USDA is now accepting proposals for Fiscal Year 2017 RCPP funding. Pre-proposals are due May 10. For more information on applying, visit the RCPP website.

Since 2009, USDA has invested more than $29 billion to help producers make conservation improvements, working with as many as 500,000 farmers, ranchers and landowners to protect over 400 million acres nationwide, boosting soil and air quality, cleaning and conserving water and enhancing wildlife habitat.


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