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Kentucky RCPP Projects Receive Funding

Kentucky’s Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) projects competed well in Fiscal Year 2018 funding selection process.

The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) list of projects in which NRCS Kentucky is the lead partner in five of the six RCPP projects. These projects include the Advanced Precision Ag for Sustainable Conservation; Working Forests for Wildlife; Profitable Farms: Soil, Water and Plant Quality; Improving Wildlife and Pollinator Habitat on Farms; and the Knox County RCPP. Tennessee is the lead state for Reversing Declines in Grassland Biodiversity, in which Kentucky is part of this project.

“This is a significant accomplishment for natural resource conservation efforts in Kentucky,” said Amanda Moore, acting State Conservationist for NRCS Kentucky.  “It takes a great collaborative effort by conservation partners to envision natural resource enhancements on a panoramic scale,” she added.

Here is a synopsis of the RCPP projects in Kentucky that are funded for 2018:

Advanced Precision Ag for Sustainable Conservation

Proposed NRCS Investment: $5,489,000 (Critical Conservation Area – Mississippi River Basin) Lead Partner: Security Seed & Chemical, Inc.

Number of Initial Partners: 30

Participating States: Kentucky (Lead State) and Tennessee

The Cumberland River basin in Tennessee and Kentucky spans nearly 18,000 square miles and is home to nearly 2.5 million people. This project will occur in the Red River and Lower Cumberland watersheds, two of the 14 watersheds that make up the Cumberland River Watershed. Both surface water and groundwater impairments are a concern in the watershed with nutrients, bacteria, and sediment being the primary issues.

The partners will work with producers to improve water quality by maximizing fertilizer uptake, preventing sediment and nutrient losses, using science based precision agricultural practices, and implementing high nutrient reducing structural practices. The partners’ goal is to advance the implementation of on-farm precision agriculture practice to help ensure the sustainability, resilience, and continued productivity of the area’s working lands while simultaneously improving the producer’s bottom line. The partners assembled for this project are some of the most advanced, cutting edge companies in the U.S., which assures that both producers and NRCS staff will have access to the most up-to-date technologies available today. Another goal of this project is to work with NRCS to improve and update practice standards and enhancements, so they work better for producers and achieve higher results for the environment.

Reversing Declines in Grassland Biodiversity

Proposed NRCS Investment: $4,500,000 (National)

Lead Partner: Central Hardwoods Joint Venture

Number of Initial Partners: 11

Participating States: Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee (Lead State)

The Central Hardwoods Joint Venture and its partners will use a multifaceted conservation program that will complement existing efforts to reverse the decline of grassland habitats in the Southeast U.S., especially near protected landscapes. The project seeks to recover populations of grassland bird species deemed in need of conservation attention by Partners in Flight, as well as the native biodiversity associated with the historic grassland landscapes of the Interior Low Plateaus ecoregion of Tennessee, Kentucky, and Indiana. Conservation efforts will include removal of woody cover and prescribed fire, reconversion of cropland or fescue pastures to native grasses, increasing forb-to-grass ratios, changing grazing intensities, and altering haying regimes.

Working Forests for Wildlife (KY, TN, VA)

Proposed NRCS Investment: $4,990,000 (National)

Lead Partner: The Nature Conservancy, Kentucky

Number of Initial Partners: 12

Participating States: Kentucky (Lead State), Tennessee and Virginia

Working Forests for Wildlife project seeks to conserve 25,000 acres of high priority forest in Kentucky, Virginia and Tennessee. By connecting forestland owners with The Nature Conservancy’s existing carbon markets, these forests can be managed to improve biological diversity and provide habitat for endangered species.

Profitable Farms: Soil, Water and Plant Quality

Proposed NRCS Investment: $485,000 (State)

Lead Partner: Pine Mountain Settlement School

Number of Initial Partners: 5

Participating States: Kentucky (Lead State)

The Profitable Farms: Soil, Water and Plant Quality project aims to bring conservation practices to the historically under-served region of Southeastern Kentucky. This partnership will provide access to cost share contracts for Seasonal High Tunnels in order to improve plant quality, extend the growing season and produce high value fruits, vegetables and value added goods for market. Micro-irrigation will also be key in conserving water and improving water quality. Additionally, soil health and plant quality will be improved by the use of cover crops and reduced tillage. Implementation of these practices will help build the long term sustainability and profitability of these small farms while contributing greatly to the economic diversification of the region’s economy. The project will provide a means for small farmers to tap into the tremendous opportunity for producing high-value agricultural products such as early and late crops, high quality organic heirloom vegetables, high quality organic small fruits and the resulting shelf-stable products created from this premium quality produce.

Improving Wildlife and Pollinator Habitat on Farms

Proposed NRCS Investment: $425,000 (State)

Lead Partner: Kentucky State University

Number of Initial Partners: 6

Participating States: Kentucky (Lead State)

Many agricultural producers focus on maximizing production acreage and their natural resource concerns receive less attention. This project will improve wildlife and pollinator habitats and water quality on eligible agricultural lands in Kentucky. The project partners will work together to train agricultural landowners on efficient and accurate implementation of conservation practices through a series of how-to workshops and demonstration projects. This innovative model combines financial assistance with supportive, on-the-ground training to ensure implementation is cost-effective and successful.

Knox County RCPP

Proposed NRCS Investment: $110,000 (State)

Lead Partner: Knox County Soil Conservation

Number of Initial Partners: 4

Participating States: Kentucky (Lead State)

The Knox County Conservation District will be helping farmers and landowners through a local cost-share program--$20,000 in cash annually for five years and $10,000 in administrative and outreach services annually for five years—for a total of $150,000. 

Knox County land owner Matthew Dixon and Kylie Schmidt, of Green Forest Works (GFW), examine the new vegetative growth on the Dixon Farm. GFW was one of the RCPP partners in the Knox County RCPP project. GFW, NRCS and other partners have reforested 31.4 acres of surface mined land at the Dixon Farm in Knox County.

Knox County land owner Matthew Dixon and Kylie Schmidt, of Green Forest Works (GFW), examine the new vegetative growth on the Dixon Farm.