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Regional Conservation Partnership Program

NRCS staff assist partners with resource conservation

Latest Information

USDA Awards 2017 RCPP Funding

USDA is investing up to $225 million in partner-led projects to help communities improve water quality, combat drought, enhance soil health, support wildlife habitat and protect agricultural viability (en Español). NRCS is harnessing the power of public-private partnerships – bringing new partners, new resources and new ideas to the table to maximize conservation benefits to soils, water, wildlife and plants. This is the third round of projects funded through RCPP, and includes two (2) projects in southwest Puerto Rico.

USDA works with conservation partners, including private industry, non-government organizations, Indian tribes, state and local governments, water districts, and universities through the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). The 2018 RCPP application period closed April 21, 2017.

RCPP Yabucoa Plantain Field Flooding during Hurricane Irene (2011)
RCPP Yabucoa Plantain Field Flooding during Hurricane Irene in 2011.

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. 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.


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 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. Learn more.


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


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

RCPP Yabucoa Flooding during Hurricane Irene (2011)
Yabucoa Valley flooding during Hurricane Irene in 2011.

Caribbean Area Priorities

Caribbean Area priorities are:

  • Excess Water – Runoff, Flooding or Ponding
  • Excess Water – Seasonal High Water Table
  • Insufficient Water – Inefficient Use of Irrigation Water
  • Insufficient Water – Inefficient Moisture Management
  • Degraded Plant Condition – Excessive Plant Pest Pressure
  • Degraded Plant Condition – Wildfire Hazard, Excessive Biomass Accumulation
  • Inefficient Energy Use - Equipment and Facilities; Farming/ Ranching Practices and Field Operations


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 with 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, or
  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


José A. Castro, Assistant State Conservationist for Programs, 787-281-4962 or 787-501-6144