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USDA awards new $6.9 million partnership project in Maine for continued stream connectivity work

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BANGOR, Maine (May 3, 2021) – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced recently it is investing $330 million in 85 locally driven, public-private partnerships to address climate change, improve the nation’s water quality, combat drought, enhance soil health, support wildlife habitat and protect agricultural viability. This announcement included a nearly $7 million project in Maine. Projects are awarded through the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP).

“The Regional Conservation Partnership Program is public-private partnerships working at their best,” said NRCS Acting Chief Terry Cosby. “These new projects will harness the power of partnerships to help bring about solutions to natural resource concerns across the country while supporting our efforts to combat the climate crisis.”

In Maine the Watershed-scale Approach to Restoring Stream Systems (WATRSS) Project will restore some of Maine’s highest value aquatic networks from fragmentation and degradation by improving road-stream crossings. Project partners – led by The Nature Conservancy – will use an innovative Stream Smart design and installation approach to improve habitat and aquatic organism passage and reduce impacts from increasingly volatile storm flows. With over 11 million acres of Maine forest in private hands, this project is designed to influence stream-friendly management on thousands of miles of aquatic habitat and spur innovations and efficiencies to influence restoration.

The funding amount for this project is $6,999,768.

“Unfortunately, many of Maine’s streams and aquatic networks have been fragmented and negatively impacted by hundreds of years of development here in the Northeast,” said NRCS-Maine State Conservationist Matt Walker. “With the expertise and innovation of The Nature Conservancy leading this important project, the people of Maine – and future generations – will see the positive impacts of this Stream Smart approach on thousands of miles of aquatic habitat throughout the state. The Natural Resources Conservation Service is excited to provide nearly $7 million for this Regional Conservation Partnership Program project, and truly believe in the capacity of locally driven, public-private partnerships to address a variety of resource concerns – including climate change, soil health, water quality, and protection of agriculture viability.”

According to NRCS-Maine Assistant State Conservationist for Partnerships and Initiatives Ben Naumann, the WATRSS project will continue to build off the momentum of another multi-partner RCPP project that is currently wrapping up.

“This newest RCPP endeavor will complement the Maine Aquatic Connectivity Restoration Project which has helped restore some of the state’s highest-value aquatic networks from habitat fragmentation and degradation by improving road-stream crossings in 25,000 square miles in Maine,” Naumann explained. “Led by The Nature Conservancy, the Aquatic Connectivity project used Stream Smart design and installation principles to improve habitat and aquatic organism passage throughout the state – reducing impacts of storm flows on structures and habitats.

“Having the ability to seamlessly continue this connectivity work with The Nature Conservancy and other partners will continue this momentum," Naumann added.


Across America, producers are seeing the impacts from climate change. Farmers, landowners and local communities can be a major part of the effort to combat climate change.

Under the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is engaged in a whole-of-government effort to combat the climate crisis and conserve and protect our nation’s lands, biodiversity and natural resources including our soil, air and water. Through conservation practices and partnerships, including those through RCPP, USDA aims to enhance economic growth and create new streams of income for farmers, ranchers, producers and private foresters. Successfully meeting these challenges will require USDA and our agencies to pursue a coordinated approach alongside USDA stakeholders, including state, local and Tribal governments.

About RCPP

Through RCPP, conservation partners work in collaboration with NRCS to help farmers, ranchers and forest landowners throughout the nation to implement systems that conserve water and soil resources, improve the health of wildlife habitats and increase climate resilience. RCPP partners offer value-added contributions to amplify the impact of RCPP funding. These projects offer impactful and measurable outcomes. Throughout its history, RCPP has leveraged partner contributions of more than $1 for every $1 invested by USDA, resulting in nearly $3 billion collectively invested in natural resource conservation on private lands. The Department anticipates the investments made today will generate at least $440 million in additional conservation funds by communities and other partners.

See the interactive map of awarded RCPP projects here. For more information, visit the NRCS-Maine RCPP website.

USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. In the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit




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