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Multi-State: Delaware River Watershed Working Lands Conservation Protection

The Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP), established through the 2014 Farm Bill, allows conservation partners with similar missions to collaborate with NRCS to further the conservation, restoration, and sustainable use of soil, water, and wildlife habitat in their region. By submitting a joint RCPP proposal to NRCS, these organizations can request that NRCS conservation program funding be set aside for agricultural landowners and producers in the region they serve to augment their existing efforts.

Map showing RCPP target areas in New JerseyThe Delaware River Watershed Working Lands Conservation Protection Partnership's proposal identified project target areas, known as “cluster areas,” in the Delaware Watershed in New Jersey, namely the Highlands cluster and the Kirkwood Cohansey Aquifer cluster. This proposal was one of the first multi-state RCPP selected for funding and established a five-year $13 million agreement.

Specific areas in these clusters coincide with focal areas targeted by the various partners participating in the RCPP project. Several of the partnering organizations offer additional assistance in their focal areas in the form of funding and/or assistance with the application process.

Cluster and Focal Areas of the Delaware River Watershed Working Lands Conservation Protection Partnership

Funds available through this RCPP agreement

Agricultural producers and forest landowners in the cluster areas who apply for assistance through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) or the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) - Agricultural Land Easement (ALE) may be eligible for the funding designated through this RCPP award. The RCPP agreement makes these designated funds available through FY2017.

Applicants must meet the eligibility requirements as set forth in the 2014 Farm Bill for the conservation program. This includes meeting the basic Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) and Highly Erodible Land/Wetland Compliance (HEL/WC) and Land Control requirements. Screening questions and ranking criteria for this funding pool has been developed with input from National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) to help meet the goals of the project partners.

Program Funds Available in New Jersey through RCPP Delaware River Watershed Working Lands Conservation Protection Partnership

Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)

Apply for assistance for conservation practices through EQIP.

Landowners in the Highlands cluster and the Kirkwood Cohansey Aquifer cluster who apply for NRCS assistance through EQIP may be eligible for additional funding from RCPP partnering organizations.

Note: Funding designated for agricultural easements through this RCPP agreement has been expended and is no longer available. Easements established in the Delaware River Watershed through this agreement used the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program - Agricultural  Land Easement (ACEP-ALE).

NRCS Contacts for ACEP-ALE:

Gail Bartok
(732) 537-6042

Lauren Lapczynski
(732) 537-6046 



About the Delaware River Watershed Working Lands Conservation Protection Partnership

In 2014 American Farmland Trust (AFT) coordinated a large group of partners already working in the Delaware Watershed in Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey, and submitted an RCPP proposal to NRCS entitled Delaware River Watershed Working Lands Conservation Protection. Over twenty-seven conservation partners were included in the cooperative proposal, and funding from William Penn Foundation to improve water quality and quantity in the Delaware Watershed would be leveraged to advance the conservation effort.

In January 2015 NRCS announced the award of $13 million to be distributed over 5 years for this partnership effort. These RCPP-designated funds will primarily support financial assistance to producers with a portion designated for technical assistance to the project partners.

The partnering entities supply funding and appropriate staff to conduct program outreach, provide assistance for landowners interested in applying for NRCS conservation programs, and to supply technical assistance, and in some areas, financial assistance for conservation planning and implementation.

American Farmland Trust has since transferred the administration responsibilities of the RCPP project to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF).

updated January 24, 2019