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RCPP Projects in Massachusetts

Regional Conservation Partnership Program Projects

Following is a list of Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) projects in Massachusetts. National projects that involve Massachusetts, along with other states, are included.

FY 2018

Connecting the Connecticut River Watershed

Proposed NRCS Investment: $4,980,000 (National)

Lead Partner: The Nature Conservancy

Number of Initial Partners: 14

Participating States: Connecticut, Massachusetts (Lead State), New Hampshire and Vermont

This project addresses habitat for fish and wildlife, water quality and climate resilience in high priority aquatic and terrestrial sites across the four-state Connecticut River Watershed. Partners will work with land owners to improve and connect aquatic and riparian habitat; reduce sedimentation and nutrients; and identify and prioritize parcels of land that will safeguard water quality, protect riparian or wetland resources, and increase resiliency to climate change.

Massachusetts Collaborative for Private Forestland

Proposed NRCS Investment: $1,770,000 (State)

Lead Partner: Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife

Number of Initial Partners: 2

Participating States: Massachusetts

The Massachusetts Division of Fisheries & Wildlife hopes to expand the successful model of the Habitat Management Grant Program to encourage private and municipal landowners to create adequate habitat for fish and wildlife and improve plant conditions. The program provides financial assistance to landowners for habitat management while fostering partnerships to encourage landscape scale habitat management.

Saving Farmland in the Lower Merrimack Watershed

Proposed NRCS Investment: $1,050,000 (State)

Lead Partner: Essex County Greenbelt Association, Inc.

Number of Initial Partners: 6

Participating States: Massachusetts

Essex County’s watershed area harbors over 7,000 acres of unprotected working farmland. Rapid urbanization, high land values, and aging landowners render these farms vulnerable to conversion, with corresponding losses for water quality and habitat. This project will lead the effort to preserve 400 acres of the most critical farmland over the next 5 years through the acquisition of Agricultural Land Easements.

FY 2017

Ground Based Water Quality Implementation

Proposed NRCS Investment: $969,650 (State)

Lead Partner: Massachusetts Association of Conservation Districts

Number of Initial Partners: 13

Participating States: Massachusetts

The Massachusetts Association of Conservation Districts will create a Human Portal - boots on the ground - within each conservation district to serve as a “general contractor” to help producers implement conservation practices. Producers are concerned about the complexity and administrative burdens of the federal conservation programs. The required paperwork and follow-through can impede implementation. MACD proposes to establish one staff member in every Conservation District who can serve as the “general contractor” for producers to assist them in completing the paperwork needed to not only apply for conservation funds but also manage those contracts after awarded. The overall goal is to increase the follow-through and quality of implementation on the ground. When a farmer documents the conservation practices he has applied, he would be allowed “safe harbor” from certain regulatory requirements.

FY 2016

Young Forest Initiative for At-Risk Species

Proposed NRCS Investment: $5.2 million (National)

Lead Partner: Wildlife Management Institute

Number of Partners: 12

Participating States: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire (lead state), Rhode Island, and Vermont

This project will help increase technical and financial assistance to non-industrial private forestland owners who implement practices outlined in the Environmental Quality Incentives Program that result in an increase in the quantity and quality of young forest habitats. This support is critical, since young forest habitat is necessary to meet the critical needs of several recognized at-risk species. In Massachusetts, the program will target areas that can increase the habitat for New England Cottontail, American Woodcock, Ruffed Grouse, and Golden Winged Warbler. These species are declining and need young forests for nesting, foraging for food, and cover from predators.

FY 2014/2015

Integrating Sustainable Forestry and Energy to Support a Regional Rural Economy and Sustainable Communities in Massachusetts' Most Forested, Rural and Low Income Region

Proposed NRCS Investment: $700,000 (State)

Lead Partner: Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation

Number of Partners: 11

Participating States: Massachusetts

This innovative three-year project, led by the Mass. Dept. of Conservation and Recreation, will create a model, holistic approach to support sustainable rural communities and economies by engaging landowners to conserve working woodlands. A partnership of 12 federal, state and local agencies and organizations will join forces to integrate sustainable forestry and energy practices to support the rural economy and communities in western Massachusetts including the 20 towns in the Mohawk Trail Woodlands Partnership region, Massachusetts’ most forested, rural and low income area.

Long Island Sound Watershed RCPP

Proposed NRCS Investment: (National)

Lead partner: Connecticut Council on Soil and Water Conservation

Number of Partners: 20+

Participating States: Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont

Excess nutrients have been identified as the primary driver of hypoxic conditions in Long Island Sound and are also impacting upland water resources within the watershed, which encompasses areas of Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont. This project will develop a comprehensive, whole-farm management certainty program for farmers in the area and use both working lands and easement programs 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.