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Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP)

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The Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) promotes coordination between NRCS and its partners to deliver conservation assistance to producers and landowners. NRCS provides assistance to producers through partnership agreements and through program contracts or easement agreements.

Benefits

RCPP encourages partners to join in efforts with producers to increase the restoration and sustainable use of soil, water, wildlife and related natural resources on regional or watershed scales.

Through RCPP, NRCS and its partners help producers install and maintain conservation activities in selected project areas. Partners leverage RCPP funding in project areas and report on the benefits achieved.  The Secretary of Agriculture may also designate up to eight critical conservation areas to focus RCPP assistance.

Funding

Funding for RCPP is allocated to projects in two different categories:

  • Critical Conservation Areas
  • State/Multi-State

New Jersey Awards

NJ Award Fact Sheet

FY2021 RCPP Awards

  • Protecting Source Water in the Raritan Basin (Managed by the Water Supply Authority)                                                                                                                                     The New Jersey Water Supply Authority proposes to use RCPP's flexible producer incentives to implement conservation systems and practices on farms in the Raritan Basin Water Supply System. The project will offer additional cost-share via the Authority's source water protection fund and also enroll conservation easements , document pollutant load reductions and/or pollutant loads avoided, and assess the social impact of offering flexible producer incentives.  

  • Salem River Bog Turtle Protection and Restoration (Managed by New Jersey Audubon)               New Jersey Audubon and partners propose to restore, enhance, and protect occupied and potential bog turtle habitat, and improve connectivity between public and private lands through habitat restoration and land acquisition. The bog turtle is the official state reptile of New Jersey and is a Federally Threatened and State endangered species. An innovative ranking system will use various datasets to target specific properties to connect wetland habitat throughout the watershed.

  • Northern NJ Small Farm Food Link Conservation Project (Managed by Urban Agriculture Cooperative)
    The Urban Agriculture Cooperative proposes to deliver technical and financial assistance to new and historically underserved urban farmers in Northern N.J. Implementation of seasonal high tunnels, composting facilities, cover crops and irrigation practices will improve soil health and irrigation water use efficiency, as well as help urban producers realize lower input costs and more production. Participating farms will also see new revenue streams from composting activities. The project will increase opportunities for black, Indigenous, people of color, women, immigrants, and new young farmers to participate in all aspects of the local food economy from production to retail. Historically underserved farmers pursuing land tenure will benefit and strengthen their linkages with rural farmers to bring more food to the urban residents who lack fresh food access. 
FY2018 RCPP Awards 
  • Columbia Dam Removal and Restoration (Managed by the Nature Conservancy)                             In 2011, The Nature Conservancy (TNC) carried out an analysis with the Northeast Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies to identify dams in the northeast region having the highest impact on migrating fish. The Columbia Dam was ranked in the top 5% of all dams prioritized for removal (nearly 14,000).

    In 2012, TNC began communications with the NJDEP Division of Fish & Wildlife (NJDEP), the dam owner, regarding removal. Since 2013, TNC has been working with stakeholders on plans to remove the Columbia Dam and a downstream remnant dam to restore and reconnect habitat for diadromous fish species including American shad, blueback herring, alewife, American eel and native sea lamprey, and to restore 32 acres of floodplain habitat currently inundated by the Columbia Dam.

    Removal of the Columbia Dam has been accomplished, opening 20 miles of streams in the Paulins Kill watershed (11 miles of mainstream + 9 miles of tributaries) to migratory fish.

    Degraded in-stream habitat will be restored in the 1.5-mile impoundment upstream of the Columbia Dam. In addition, restoration and re-vegetation of approximately 32 acres of floodplain inundated by the dam will be undertaken. Improvements anticipated as a result of this effort throughout the 1.5 mile reach include lowering temperature and increasing dissolved oxygen.

  • Black River Greenway - Soil and Water Protection (Managed by New Jersey Conservation Foundation) The Black River Greenway is a region that includes parts of Hunterdon, Morris and Somerset counties. The New Jersey Conservation Foundation and NRCS have preserved nearly 3,000 acres of land throughout the area, which is characterized by rolling open farms and dramatic dark forests. These lands are preserved for public access and to protect environmentally sensitive resources.

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FY2017 RCPP Award
  • Whole Farm Systems Conservation Trial (Managed by NJ State Agriculture Development Committee) news release
FY2015 RCPP Awards
FY2016 RCPP Award

 
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Critical Conservation Areas

For projects in eight geographic areas chosen by Secretary. These receive 50 percent of funding. Learn more.

 

State/Multi-State

For projects in a single state. These receive 50 percent of funding.

Learn more.

New Jersey Priorities

New Jersey's priorities are:

  • Water Quality
  • Soil Erosion
  • Soil Quality
  • Wildlife Habitat

Eligibility

Eligible Partners - Agricultural or silvicultural producer associations, farmer cooperatives or other groups of producers, state or local governments, American Indian tribes, municipal water treatment entities, water and irrigation districts, conservation-driven nongovernmental organizations and institutions of higher education.

Eligible Participants - Under RCPP, eligible producers and landowners of agricultural land and non-industrial private forestland may enter into conservation program contracts or easement agreements under the framework of a partnership agreement. 

How to Apply

NRCS will release an announcement for program funding, that will outline requirements for proposal submissions for funding. 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 producers in the project area assistance. 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.

  • Visit Grants.gov for the current proposal deadlines, application and information. Search Grant Opportunities for "Regional Conservation Partnership."
  • See more about How to Apply on the national NRCS website.

Producers may apply for RCPP assistance in several 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.

More Information

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This page updated January 31, 2019

Northern NJ Small Farm Food Link Conservation Project