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News Release

USDA Investing Nearly $18 Million in Partner-Driven, Locally led Conservation in Pennsylvania

Adam Dellinger

HARRISBURG, August 26, 2022 – The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Pennsylvania announces it is awarding $17.8 million for two locally led conservation projects through the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). RCPP is a partner-driven program that leverages partner resources to advance innovative projects that address climate change, enhance water quality, and address other critical challenges on agricultural land.  

“Our partners understand the challenges in their own backyards,” Denise Coleman, Pennsylvania State Conservationist. “Through RCPP we can tap into that knowledge, in partnership with producers and USDA, to come up with lasting solutions to the challenges that farmers and landowners face. We’re looking forward to seeing the results of public-private partnership, made possible through these RCPP investments.”

The two Pennsylvania projects include:

Implementing a strategy to rapidly restore agriculturally impaired streams in Central PA

Lead Partner: Chesapeake Conservancy
Award: $9,996,006
Project Area: Lycoming, Union, Snyder, Clinton, Centre, and Huntingdon Counties

Over 30 agricultural producers in six central Pennsylvania counties stand ready to implement conservation practices and systems that would help address water quality and wildlife habitat concerns for 18 streams listed as impaired under the Clean Water Act. The Chesapeake Conservancy and thirteen partners will work with NRCS to accelerate conservation improvements to work toward eventual delisting of the streams.

“Chesapeake Conservancy is thrilled that our project was selected for a Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) award by USDA's Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS),” said Carly Dean, Chesapeake Conservancy Program Manager. “Together with our partners, we look forward to working with NRCS to support central Pennsylvania farmers to implement conservation practices toward restoring 30 agriculturally-impaired streams by the year 2030.”

Farmland Preservation and Climate Change Mitigation

Lead Partner: Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture - Bureau of Farmland Preservation
Award: $7,850,000
Project Area: Statewide

The Farmland Preservation and Climate Change Mitigation project will leverage State and county farmland preservation investments to complement the use of RCPP funds to install climate smart practices and systems on Pennsylvania farms. The proposal builds on a successful 2018 RCPP award. Soil health practices and systems, as well as helping transition producers to organic production, will be the focus of the land management element of the project.

"These dollars will be a significant tool for our efforts to improve soil health on preserved farms and reduce the impact of climate change," Bureau of Farmland Preservation Director Douglas Wolfgang said. "Regenerative farming practices capture and store carbon from the atmosphere and mitigate the effects of climate change. Our hope is that the project will provide additional conservation opportunities for preserved farm owners and multiply the good we are doing for Pennsylvania's future."  

These two projects are among 41 projects selected throughout the nation. See the list of 2022 RCPP projects here or view the interactive map.

RCPP projects are implemented using NRCS contracts and easements with producers, landowners and communities, in collaboration with project partners. As part of each project, partners offer value-added contributions to amplify the impact of RCPP funding in an amount equal to or greater than the NRCS investment. For these two Pennsylvania projects, the total partner contributions are $24,290,238.

Private landowners can apply to participate in an RCPP project in their region through awarded partners or at their local USDA service center.  

More Information 

First authorized in the 2014 Farm Bill, 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. Since inception, RCPP has made 589 awards involving over 3,000 partner organizations. Currently there are 401 active projects, with at least one active project in every state and area. Successful RCPP projects provide innovative conservation solutions, leverage partner contributions and offer impactful and measurable outcomes. 

For more information about RCPP, visit the NRCS website

RCPP is part of NRCS’ broader effort to engage partners. For example, NRCS recently announced it will invest $35 million this year through the Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) program. Through CIG, grantees work to address our nation's water quality, water quantity, air quality, soil health and wildlife habitat challenges, all while supporting agricultural production.