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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 2019 RCPP application period was open from September 3 to December 3, 2019.

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 of NRCS conservation activities with partners that offer value-added contributions to expand our collective ability to address on-farm, watershed, and regional natural resource concerns. Through RCPP, NRCS seeks to co-invest with partners to implement projects that demonstrate innovative solutions to conservation challenges and provide measurable improvements and outcomes tied to the resource concerns they seek to address.

The New RCPP

The 2018 Farm Bill made a number of substantial changes to RCPP:

  • RCPP is now a standalone program with its own funding–$300 million annually. Moving forward, landowners and ag producers will enter into RCPP contracts and RCPP easements.
  • Enhanced Alternative Funding Arrangement provision–NRCS may award up to 15 AFA projects, which are more grant-like and rely more on partner capacity to implement conservation activities.
  • Three funding pools reduced to two—the National pool was eliminated. Partners must apply to either the Critical Conservation Area (CCA) or State/Multistate funding pool.
  • Emphasis on project outcomes—all RCPP projects must now develop and report on their environmental outcomes.

Successful RCPP projects embody the following core principles:

  • Impact—RCPP applications must propose effective and compelling solutions that address one or more natural resource priorities to help solve natural resource challenges. Partners are responsible for evaluating a project’s impact and results.
  • Partner Contributions—Partners are responsible for identifying any combination of cash and in-kind value-added contributions to leverage NRCS’s RCPP investments. It is NRCS’s goal that partner contributions at least equal the NRCS investment in an RCPP project. Substantive partner contributions are given priority consideration as part of the RCPP application evaluation criteria. 
  • Innovation—NRCS seeks projects that integrate multiple conservation approaches, implement innovative conservation approaches or technologies, build new partnerships, and effectively take advantage of program flexibilities to deliver conservation solutions.
  • Partnerships and Management—Partners must have experience, expertise, and capacity to manage the partnership and project, provide outreach to producers, and quantify the environmental outcomes of an RCPP project. RCPP ranking criteria give preference to applicants that meaningfully engage historically underserved farmers and ranchers.

Funding

Funding for RCPP is divided evenly between two funding pools

Thumbnail of map outlining CCA areas salmon-colored placeholder map

Critical Conservation Areas

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

State/Multistate

For projects in a single state or across several states. These receive 50 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

Eligibility

Eligible Partners - Eligible organizations interested in partnering with NRCS on conservation projects can develop applications for the RCPP competition. The lead partner for an RCPP project is the entity that submits an application, and if selected for an award is ultimately responsible for collaborating with NRCS to successfully complete an RCPP project.

Eligible Participants - Once NRCS selects a project and executes an RCPP agreement with a lead partner, agricultural producers may participate in an RCPP project in one of two ways. First, producers may engage with project partners and delegate a willing partner to act as their representative in working with NRCS. Second, producers seeking to carry out conservation activities consistent with a RCPP project in the project’s geographic area can apply directly to NRCS.

Eligible Land - RCPP projects must be carried out on agricultural or nonindustrial private forest land or associated land on which NRCS determines an eligible activity would help achieve conservation benefits (i.e., improved condition of natural resources resulting from implementation of conservation activities). Eligible conservation activities may be implemented on public lands when those activities will benefit eligible lands as determined by NRCS and are included in the scope of an approved RCPP project.

How To Apply

More Information

Contact:

Manuel Ríos, Program Specialist, 787-766-5239 or 787-379-6320