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News Release

Tennessee NRCS Now Accepting Applications for RCPP Partnership Projects Aimed at Improving Water Quality, Wildlife Habitat and Soil Health Application Batching Deadline is May 17, 2019

RCPP Signup Deadline

For more information contact:
Katherine K. Burse, State Public Affairs Officer
PH: 615-277-2533

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NASHVILLE, April 10, 2019 – The United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) recently announced the sign-up deadline for funding opportunities to improve water quality, wildlife habitat and soil health in three Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) project areas in Tennessee.  Funding is available through the NRCS Environmental Quality Incentives Program, Conservation Stewardship Program, and the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program-Wetland Reserve Easement, under the RCPP Farm Bill program.

To be considered for program funding, applicants must operate land within the focus area of the respective RCPP project. The deadline to submit applications for fiscal year (FY) 2019 funding is May 17, 2019.

“The Regional Conservation Partnership Program puts local partners in the driver’s seat to accomplish environmental goals that are most meaningful to that community,” said Sheldon Hightower, Tennessee NRCS State Conservationist. “It draws on local knowledge and networks to fuel conservation projects, bringing together a wide variety of new partners including businesses, universities, non-profits, and local governments.”

Funded FY 2019 RCPP Projects include:

West Tennessee Floodplain and Wetland Restoration Project
This project started in FY 2016 and NRCS invested $1.87 million to fund a partnership with West Tennessee River Basin Authority. In FY 2019, NRCS will fund $295,407.  The goal of the project is to measurably improve the water quality and ecological integrity of the identified watersheds through implementation of NRCS soil health initiative practices, grade stabilization structures, riparian forest buffer, sediment basins, wetland enhancement, and wetland restoration. The watershed approach used will result in significant resource improvements and benefit producers by reducing flooding and improving soil health.

Advanced Precision Agriculture for Sustainable Conservation
NRCS will invest approximately $5.5 million to fund a Critical Conservation Area in the Mississippi River Basin.  Security Seed & Chemical, Inc., will spearhead this project that encompasses the Cumberland River basin in Tennessee and Kentucky, which spans nearly 18,000 square miles and is home to nearly 2.5 million people. This project will occur in the Red River and Lower Cumberland watersheds, two of the 14 watersheds that make up the Cumberland River Watershed.

Both surface water and groundwater impairments are a concern in the watershed with nutrients, bacteria, and sediment being the primary issues. The partners will work with producers to improve water quality by maximizing fertilizer uptake, preventing sediment and nutrient losses, using science-based precision agricultural practices, and implementing high nutrient reducing structural practices. The goal is to advance the implementation of on-farm precision agriculture practice to help ensure the sustainability, resilience, and continued productivity of the area’s working lands while simultaneously improving the producer’s bottom line. The partners assembled for this project are some of the most advanced, cutting edge companies in the U.S., which assures that both producers and NRCS staff will have access to the most up-to-date technologies available today. Another goal of this project is to work with NRCS to improve and update practice standards and enhancements, so they work better for producers and achieve higher results for the environment.

Reversing Declines in Grassland Biodiversity
NRCS will invest $4.5 million to assist the American Bird Conservancy and its partners with a multifaceted conservation program that will complement existing efforts to reverse the decline of grassland habitats in the Southeast U.S., especially near protected landscapes. The project seeks to recover populations of grassland bird species deemed in need of conservation attention by Partners in Flight, as well as the native biodiversity associated with the historic grassland landscapes of the Interior Low Plateaus ecoregion of Tennessee and Kentucky. Conservation efforts will include removal of woody cover and prescribed fire, reconversion of cropland or Fescue pastures to native grasses, increasing forb-to-grass ratios, changing grazing intensities, and altering haying regimes.

Interested parties should sign up at their local USDA Service Center. For more information about RCPP, visit the Tennessee NRCS website.

USDA NRCS helps America’s farmers and ranchers conserve the Nation’s soil, water, air and other natural resources. All programs are voluntary and offer science-based solutions that benefit both the landowner and the environment.

To learn about technical and financial assistance available through conservation programs, visit www.nrcs.usda.gov/GetStarted or your local USDA service center.

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