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2018 Farm Bill | Regional Conservation Partnership Program


Latest Information

New Critical Conservation Areas (includes Vermont)

RCPP Fact Sheet 2019

Fact Sheet Overview of VT RCPP Projects - (Updated January 2019)

RCPP on the NRCS National website


View the interactive map of national RCPP projects here. 

The next RCPP Classic funding announcement is scheduled for release in summer 2021.

RCPP in Vermont


RCPP Entity-Held Easements

  • Applications for RCPP Entity-Held Easements must be received by April 15, 2022.
  • Vermont has extended the deadline for Land Management applications under the Regional Conservation Partnership Program project titled “The Vermont Stream Restoration Initiative” through April 15, 2022. Read Press Release here.

Program Overview

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.

RCPP combines the authorities of four former conservation programs – the Agricultural Water Enhancement Program, the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Program, the Cooperative Conservation Partnership Initiative and the Great Lakes Basin Program. Assistance is delivered in accordance with the rules of EQIP, CSP, ACEP and HFRP; and in certain areas the Watershed Operations and Flood Prevention Program.

Learn more about a successful RCPP project in Vermont at the Marquis Organic Dairy

RCPP in Vermont, May 2021

Note** View a larger version of this map here.

2019 RCPP Project (awarded under the 2018 Farm Bill)


2019 RCPP Projects (awarded under the 2018 Farm Bill)


Accelerated Implementation of Agricultural and Forestry Related Practices in the Lake Champlain Basin

Lead Partner: Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation

Lead State: VT

Funding Amount: $ 10,000,000

Partner Contributions: $ 15,623,503

Funding Pool: State/Multi State


Summary: The project will continue to provide financial and technical assistance to agricultural and forest landowners for five years, to help with development and implementation of site-specific farm and forest projects that will directly improve water quality in streams and rivers that flow towards Lake Champlain. RCPP funds will also help conserve important and environmentally critical agricultural lands, and restore and protect wetlands that are crucial to absorbing runoff and slowing floodwaters.


Northern Tier Stream Restoration Initiative

Lead Partner: Trout Unlimited, Inc.

Lead State: ME

Partner States: NH; VT

Funding Amount: $ 1,795,455

Partner Contributions: $ 1,795,453

Funding Pool: State/Multi State


Summary: Trout Unlimited and a diverse set of partners plans to improve in-stream habitat in high priority brook trout and Atlantic salmon watersheds in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont. The project is expected to restore habitat on up to 25 miles of streams each year.


Vermont Pay for Phosphorous Program


Lead Partner: Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets

Lead State: VT

Funding Amount: $7,000,000

Partner Contribution: $11,941,050

Funding Pool: Alternative Funding Arrangement

Summary: This project will use a pay-for-performance approach to pay farmers statewide for voluntary phosphorus load reductions that exceed average reductions required for nonpoint source agriculture in the Lake Champlain Basin. The VPFP Program will reduce phosphorus loading by an estimated 40,000 total pounds over the course of four years, with an estimated 150 enrolled farms. Shifting the focus from payment for practices to payment for performance will make the value of phosphorus reductions tangible to farmers, empower farms in their conservation efforts and improve the quality of Vermont’s water resources. 



2018 National RCPP Project (awarded under the 2014 Farm Bill)

Project Name: Connecting the Connecticut River Watershed

Lead Partner: The Nature Conservancy

Funding Amount: $4,980,000 (National)

Participating State(s): Vermont, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Massachusetts (lead state) plus 10 additional states.

Overview: This project addresses habitat for fish and wildlife, water quality and climate resilience in high priority aquatic and terrestrial sites across the four-state Connecticut River Watershed. Partners will work with land owners to improve and connect aquatic and riparian habitat; reduce sedimentation and nutrients; and identify and prioritize parcels of land that will safeguard water quality, protect riparian or wetland resources, and increase resiliency to climate change. This multi-state national project includes funding totaling $4,980,000.

2017 Vermont RCPP Project (awarded under the 2014 Farm Bill)

Project Name: Cold Hollow Woodlots Program 

Lead Partner: Cold Hollow to Canada (CHC)

Funding Amount: $640,000 (National)

Participating State(s): Vermont

Overview: Vermont’s Cold Hollow to Canada (CHC), a regional conservation partnership operating in seven towns along the western spine of the Green Mountains, will expand an existing cross boundary management initiative. The Cold Hollow Woodlots Program initially engaged twelve landowners spanning over 2,000 acres in the town of Enosburg. RCPP will help expand this work to 50 landowners and 8,000 acres by adding woodlots in Richford and Montgomery, as well as serving the existing woodlot group in Enosburg.

The effort will encourage Vermont’s private forest owners to manage wildlife habitat, find solutions for the effects of climate change, and develop ways to help forests adapt to changing conditions. By securing resources for conservation practice implementation for the pilot group in Enosburg and two new groups in the towns of Richford and Montgomery, the project seeks to expand the base of engaged landowners in this target region and foster the stewardship of forest health, integrity and resiliency into the future. Read the news release about the Cold Hollow RCPP.

2016 Vermont RCPP Projects (awarded under the 2014 Farm Bill)

State Project

Project Name: Memphremagog Long-term Water Quality Partnership (NOTE: This project was renewed in the 2018 Farm Bill*)


Lead Partner: Orleans County Natural Resources Conservation District

Funding Amount: $674,000 (State RCPP 2014 funding) *$674,000 (State RCPP 2018 funding)

Participating State(s): Vermont

Overview: With an emphasis on target sub-watersheds where water quality sampling indicates significant contributions of phosphorus loading from agricultural lands to the phosphorus-impaired Lake Memphremagog and a nutrient-impaired stream within the Tomifobia River watershed, partners will plan and implement key conservation practices on agricultural land to improve water quality. The project will implement NRCS-approved practices on farms, focusing on Nutrient Management Practices (NMPs), smaller Best Management Practice (BMP) production area practices and field and pasture practices to address water quality, soil erosion and soil quality decline. Success will be evaluated using multiple performance measures including: water sampling results, NMPs completed, practices installed, phosphorus reductions per practice, acreage treated and social measures, such as changes in farmer behavior and establishment of an ongoing farmer workgroup.

National Project

Project Name: Young Forest Initiative for At-Risk Species

Lead Partner: Wildlife Management Institute

Funding Amount: $5.2 million (National)

Participating State(s): Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire (lead state), New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont. 

Overview: This project will help increase technical and financial assistance to non-industrial private forestland owners who implement practices outlined in the Environmental Quality Incentives Program that result in an increase in the quantity and quality of young forest habitats. This support is critical, since young forest habitat is necessary to meet the critical needs of several recognized at-risk species.

Target Species: In Vermont, there are two target species. American woodcock (Scolopax minor), also known as the timberdoodle, is a ground-dwelling bird that lives in young forest and shrublands. You can learn more at The golden-winged warbler (Vermivora chrysoptera) lives in both uplands and lowlands and during spring and summer they nest in old fields thick with weeds and with a low-to-moderate density of shrubs; males use scattered trees or woodland edges for singing perches. Golden-winged warblers also breed on recently logged lands where small trees are growing back densely. You can learn more at


2015 Vermont RCPP Projects (awarded under the 2014 Farm Bill)

State Project

Project Name: Nutrient Management Planning Training Program for Farmers and Conservation Practice Implementation Follow-up.

Lead Partner: Vermont Association of Conservation Districts (VACD)

Funding Amount: $800,000

VACD-RCPP Project Fact Sheet

Overview: The Vermont Association of Conservation Districts (VACD) in partnership with the fourteen Natural Resource Conservation Districts, University of Vermont Extension and VT NRCS will assist small farm operators in the development of nutrient management plans (NMPs). The purpose of this program is to improve water quality by reducing phosphorus and other nutrient loading from small livestock farm operations in the Lake Champlain Basin and beyond. The program will be supported through an agreement with NRCS, as well as through partner contributions provided by VACD, UVM Extension and Conservation Districts. The primary deliverable of this program is 40 nutrient management plans certified to NRCS standards per year.

National Projects

1. Project Name: Accelerated Implementation of Agricultural and Forestry Conservation Practices in the Lake Champlain Watershed of Vermont and New York.

Project Overview: The project will provide financial and technical assistance to agricultural and forest landowners over the next five years, to help with development and implementation of site-specific farm and forest projects that will directly improve water quality in streams and rivers that flow towards Lake Champlain. RCPP funds will also help conserve important and environmentally critical agricultural lands, and restore and protect wetlands that are crucial to absorbing runoff and slowing floodwaters.

2. Project Name: Long Island Sound Watershed-Development of whole-farm management certainty program

Benefits of RCPP

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.

RCPP Funding

Funding for RCPP is allocated to projects in three different categories.

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

Critical Conservation Areas

For projects in eight geographic areas chosen by Secretary. These receive 35 percent of funding.


For nationwide and multistate projects. These receive 40 percent of funding.


For projects in a single state. These receive 25 percent of funding.

Conservation program contracts and easement agreements are implemented through the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP), Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) or the Healthy Forests Reserve Program (HFRP). NRCS may also utilize the authorities under the Watershed and Flood Prevention Program, other than the Watershed Rehabilitation Program, in the designated critical conservation areas.

Vermont Priorities

Vermont priorities for RCPP funding are:

  • Soil Erosion
  • Soil Quality
  • Water Quality Degradation
  • Inadequate Habitat for Fish and Wildlife


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.  RCPP assistance is also available independent of a partner if the land is located either in a partner project area or in a critical conservation area designated by the Secretary. 

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.

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.

Download materials pertaining to RCPP in Vermont:

RCPP Vermont Presentation

NRCS Planning to Contract Example

One-page Resource: VT RCPP

NRCS RCPP Fact Sheet

Click here to download an informative graphic poster on RCPP

RCPP Infographic Poster






To learn how to get started with NRCS, visit and for Vermont RCPP information, contact Assistant State Conservationist for Program, Obediah Racicot

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