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Protecting Water and Wildlife: RCPP in Action

The Marquis Organic Dairy is located in Lake Champlain’s Upper Missisquoi Watershed, a critical source area for phosphorus loading. Marc and Tiffany Marquis purchased the farm in 2011 and began operating a small, grass-based organic dairy. Now, the family milks seventy cows on Route 100 in Newport. Their land has certified organic pasture and hayfields which help sustain the couple’s dairy herd.

Through the Natural Resource Conservation Service’s RCPP program, and programs such as the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP), they installed conservation practices to protect soil and water quality and conserved two parcels totaling 246 acres.

In order to protect wildlife habitat and water quality, land along the streambanks of a Missisquoi River tributary will not be used for farming. The Marquis family also worked with the state to utilize the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) to establish a riparian buffer along this tributary. They planted 5,698 trees on 14 acres.

Marc wrote his own Nutrient Management Plan (NMP) with assistance from an RCPP project spearheaded by the Vermont Association of Conservation Districts (VACD) in partnership with the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets (VAAFM) VAAFM and the University of Vermont (UVM) Extension. This has enabled the Marquis family to fully understand and implement their own nutrient management practices to protect water quality. They’re implementing several additional soil and water conservation practices as well.

The Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) received a $16 million RCPP grant from NRCS in 2015 to provide financial and technical assistance to agricultural and forest landowners to help develop and implement site-specific farm and forest projects that improve water quality in streams that flow toward Lake Champlain. Funding for the work on the Marquis family farm was made possible through this RCPP project.

Learn more on the NRCS-Vermont website.

The Regional Conservation Partnership Program is a partner-driven approach to conservation that funds solutions to natural resource challenges on agricultural land. By leveraging collective resources and collaborating on common goals, RCPP demonstrates the power of public-private partnerships in delivering results for agriculture and conservation.

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