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News Release

New USDA Partnership Program Funds Two Idaho Projects

Rob Fredericksen, Regional Conservation Partnership Program Coordinator

Additional Contact:
Alexis Collins, Public Affairs Specialist, 208.685.6978
Irrigation diversion on the Blackfoot River.

BOISE, ID, JANUARY 14, 2015 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that 115 conservation projects across the country will receive more than $370 million as part of the new Regional Conservation Partnership Program. Additional funding from project partners will more than double the financial impact of the program which is administered by the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

“RCPP projects are led locally and demonstrate that public-private partnerships can solve natural resource challenges,” said Travis Thomason, acting Idaho NRCS State Conservationist. “We were able to provide funding for two projects here in Idaho: The Blackfoot River Conservation Project and the Eastern Snake Plain Aquifer Stabilization Project.”

The Blackfoot River Conservation Partnership aims to repair riparian corridors in the Blackfoot River watershed and improve water delivery efficiencies to benefit a unique population of the Yellowstone cutthroat trout. A diverse group of partners, led by Trout Unlimited is working on this project.

“This is an incredible opportunity for us to work with likeminded farmers and ranchers on conservation projects that will benefit hunters, anglers, and outdoor recreationists. We’re excited to get to work on some landscape scale solutions for conservation here in Idaho,” said Matt Woodard, Trout Unlimited’s Home Rivers Initiative Project Director in southeast Idaho.

Trout Unlimited joined with the Upper Blackfoot Confluence to work on this project. The UBC group includes Agrium-NuWest, Idaho Conservation League, J.R. Simplot Company, Monsanto, and Trout Unlimited. “We are beginning a new chapter in conservation history with the rollout of the successful Regional Conservation Partnership Program grant applications here in Idaho,” said Woodard. “Trout Unlimited looks forward to rolling up our sleeves and working with farmers and ranchers on conservation efforts to restore native Yellowstone Cutthroat trout in the Upper Blackfoot River Watershed.”

The other project that successfully received funding is the Eastern Snake Plain Aquifer Stabilization project submitted by the Idaho Water Resources Board. This project will help farmers employ several specific strategies to stabilize and recover groundwater levels and spring discharges to benefit the Eastern Snake Plain Aquifer. The aquifer is an essential resource for agriculture in south eastern Idaho as well as other businesses.

“The Idaho Water Resource Board’s RCPP funding will support the State of Idaho’s on-going efforts to stabilize and recover groundwater levels in the Eastern Snake Plain Aquifer,” said Neeley Miller, Senior Water Resource Planner with the Idaho Department of Water Resources. “Aquifer stabilization will help to recover spring discharges that are crucial to maintaining the minimum streams flows in the Snake River.” 

Over the next two years the Board and collaborating partners will work with producers to implement projects on the ground that include: 1) end-gun removal and pivot enhancements, 2) surface water delivery improvements, 3) flood irrigation enhancements, and 4) Thousands Springs conservation.

The Idaho Water Resource Board is the lead partner on the ESPA Aquifer Stabilization RCPP project; other partners include: Ag Spring, Center for Management of Professional and Scientific Work, Ducks Unlimited, General Mills, Idaho Department of Fish and Game, Idaho Department of Water Resources, Idaho Ground Water Appropriators, Idaho Soil and Water Conservation Commission, MillerCoors, The Nature Conservancy, Thousand Springs Water Users Association, Trout Unlimited, and Wood River Land Trust. These collaborating partners have committed to providing financial and technical assistance for RCPP projects each year.

RCPP is a new 2014 Farm Bill conservation program that encourages partners to collaborate and work cooperatively with agriculture producers. Partners are required to match funding requested from NRCS. More information on the program and a full list of projects is available on the NRCS website at NRCS will call for fiscal year 2016 funding proposals later this year.



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