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Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP)

RCPP web graphic


For Private Landowners:
Is there an active RCPP project in your area? If so, you could be eligible for financial assistance through RCPP.

Farmers, ranchers and forest owners who manage property within a current RCPP project area may be eligible for conservation assistance from NRCS and other partners. New RCPP projects are announced annually. Many projects take place over three to five years.

Listing of Current RCPP Projects in Oregon

Please note: If you want to sign up for financial assistance in an RCPP project area, you will need to reference eligibility information for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), as most RCPP projects use EQIP to administer cost-share dollars to producers.

For Prospective Partner Applicants:
Interested in Submitting a Project Proposal for RCPP? Here's what you need to know.

NRCS is accepting project proposals from partners for fiscal year 2020. The application period runs Sept. 3, 2019 to December 3, 2019.

Resources for Applicants:

Overview

The Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) promotes coordination of NRCS conservation activities with partners that offer value-added contributions to expand our collective ability to address on-farm, watershed, and regional natural resource concerns. Through RCPP, NRCS seeks to co-invest with partners to implement projects that demonstrate innovative solutions to conservation challenges and provide measurable improvements and outcomes tied to the resource concerns they seek to address.

The New RCPP

The 2018 Farm Bill made a number of substantial changes to RCPP:

  • RCPP is now a standalone program with its own funding--$300 million annually. Moving forward, landowners and ag producers will enter into RCPP contracts and RCPP easements.
  • Enhanced Alternative Funding Arrangement (AFA) provision—NRCS may award up to 15 AFA projects, which are more grant-like and rely more on partner capacity to implement conservation activities.
  • Three funding pools reduced to two—the National pool was eliminated. Partners must apply to either the Critical Conservation Area (CCA) or State/Multistate funding pool.
  • Emphasis on project outcomes—all RCPP projects must now develop and report on their environmental outcomes.

Successful RCPP projects embody the following core principles:

  • Impact—RCPP applications must propose effective and compelling solutions that address one or more natural resource priorities to help solve natural resource challenges. Partners are responsible for evaluating a project’s impact and results.
  • Partner Contributions—Partners are responsible for identifying any combination of cash and in-kind value-added contributions to leverage NRCS’s RCPP investments. It is NRCS’s goal that partner contributions at least equal the NRCS investment in an RCPP project. Substantive partner contributions are given priority consideration as part of the RCPP application evaluation criteria. 
  • Innovation—NRCS seeks projects that integrate multiple conservation approaches, implement innovative conservation approaches or technologies, build new partnerships, and effectively take advantage of program flexibilities to deliver conservation solutions.
  • Partnerships and Management—Partners must have experience, expertise, and capacity to manage the partnership and project, provide outreach to producers, and quantify the environmental outcomes of an RCPP project. RCPP ranking criteria give preference to applicants that meaningfully engage historically underserved farmers and ranchers.

RCPP Regulation

The 2018 Farm Bill requires NRCS to develop a regulation for RCPP. NRCS plans to publish the RCPP interim final rule in late fall or early winter. Upon release of the interim final rule, NRCS will accept public comments on the contents of the rule.

RCPP Funding

RCPP funding is divided evenly among two funding pools. 

Thumbnail of map outlining CCA areas salmon-colored  map of continental US

Critical Conservation Areas

For projects in eight geographic areas chosen by the Secretary of Agriculture. These receive 50 percent of funding. Learn more about RCPP Critical Conservation Areas.

State/Multistate

For projects in a single state or across several states. These receive 50 percent of funding. 

Who is Eligible

Partner Eligibility

Eligible organizations interested in partnering with NRCS on conservation projects can develop applications for the RCPP competition. The lead partner for an RCPP project is the entity that submits an application, and if selected for an award is ultimately responsible for collaborating with NRCS to successfully complete an RCPP project.

See the RCPP funding announcement for details about what types of organizations are eligible to apply.  

Producer and Landowner Eligibility

Once NRCS selects a project and executes an RCPP agreement with a lead partner, agricultural producers may participate in an RCPP project in one of two ways. First, producers may engage with project partners and delegate a willing partner to act as their representative in working with NRCS. Second, producers seeking to carry out conservation activities consistent with a RCPP project in the project’s geographic area can apply directly to NRCS.

Land Eligibility

RCPP projects must be carried out on agricultural or nonindustrial private forest land or associated land on which NRCS determines an eligible activity would help achieve conservation benefits (i.e., improved condition of natural resources resulting from implementation of conservation activities).

Eligible conservation activities may be implemented on public lands when those activities will benefit eligible lands as determined by NRCS and are included in the scope of an approved RCPP project.

RCPP Conservation Activities

RCPP projects may include a range of on-the-ground conservation activities implemented by farmers, ranchers and forest landowners. These activities include:

  • Land management/land improvement/restoration practices
  • Land rentals
  • Entity-held easements
  • United States-held easements
  • Public works/watersheds

A single RCPP project application can propose to employ any combination of these eligible activity types as part of an RCPP project. For more details about eligible RCPP conservation activities, please see the RCPP funding announcement.

How to Apply

Eligible partners interested in applying should consult the announcement for program funding, which outlines requirements for proposal applications. NRCS will review partnership proposals according to the priorities identified in the announcement and make project selections. Upon selection of a partnership proposal, NRCS and the partner will enter into a partnership agreement through which they will coordinate to provide assistance to producers in the project area. Partnership agreements may be for a period of up to five years. NRCS may extend an agreement one time for an additional 12 months if needed to meet the objectives of the program.

Producers may apply for RCPP assistance in two ways:

  1. At the producer's request, a partner may submit the application for participation in a selected project area
  2. Directly at their local USDA Service Center in a selected project area

Partnership Agreements

The partnership agreement defines the scope of the project, including:

  1. Eligible activities to be implemented
  2. Potential agricultural or nonindustrial private forest operation affected
  3. Local, state, multi-state or other geographic area covered
  4. Planning, outreach, implementation, and assessment to be conducted. Partners are responsible for contributing to the cost of the project, conducting outreach and education to eligible producers for potential participation in the project and for conducting an assessment of the project’s effects. In addition, partners may act on behalf of the eligible landowner or producer in applying for assistance and for leveraging financial or technical assistance provided by NRCS with additional funds to help achieve the project objectives.

Before closing the agreement the partner must provide an assessment of the project costs and conservation effects.

Oregon RCPP Contact

Loren Unruh, Assistant State Conservationist, Programs
Portland, Oregon
Phone: 503-414-3235
Email: Loren.Unruh@usda.gov