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Regional Conservation Partnership Program

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 Initiative, 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 Protection and Flood Prevention Program.

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 practices in selected project areas.  Partners leverage RCPP funding in project areas and report on the benefits achieved.  The Secretary of Agriculture has designated eight critical conservation areas to focus RCPP assistance.

​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

Projects in eight geographic areas chosen by the Secretary receive
35 percent of funding.
Learn more.

National

Nationwide and multi-state projects receive 40 percent of funding.
Learn more.

State

Projects in a single state receive 25 percent of funding.
Learn more.

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.

How Projects Are Selected

Projects are evaluated on four criteria:

Contributions
Projects will expand private lands conservation investment by leveraging partner contributions

Solutions
Projects will provide real-time, measureable results to benefit individual farms, ranches and forests but also local economies and communities in watersheds and targeted geographic areas.

Innovations
Partners will creatively design projects by drawing all authorities into an integrated project.

Participation 
Partners will pull new organizations into the fold and increase the diversity and number of stakeholders that participate in projects. Signup for RCPP is continuous but will applications must meet deadlines to be ranked for early consideration.

Tennessee's Priorities

Tennessee's priorities are:

  • Soil Erosion
  • Plant Condition
  • Water Quality 
  • Soil Health/Soil Quality
  • Wildlife Habitat

Tennessee Projects

National

 Funding 
Year
Lead
Partner
Project
Name
Project
Description
 Agreement 
 Documents 

 FY 2020

 American   Bird   Conservancy

Reversing Declines in Grassland Biodiversity

NRCS will invest nearly $2.4 million in Tennessee 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.

County Eligibility Maps

 Eligible  Practices

 Ranking  Tool

 Screening   Tool

 

State

 Funding 
Year
Lead 
Partner
Project 
Name
Project 
Description
 Agreement 
Documents

FY 2020

 Nutrien

Advanced Precision Agriculture for Sustainable Conservation

Tennessee NRCS will invest approximately $924,000 to fund a Critical Conservation Area in the Mississippi River Basin. Nutrien 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.

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.

County Eligibility Map

 Ranking
 Criteria
and
 Eligible  
 Practices

 

FY 2020

 West   Tennessee
 River   Basin
 Authority  (WTRBA)

 West  Tennessee  Floodplain  and  Wetland  Restoration 

Tennessee NRCS will invest $113,000 to fund a partnership with West Tennessee River Basin Authority. 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 will benefit producers by reducing flooding and improving soil health.

 Eligible   Practices/
 Payment  Schedule
 

FY 2020  The Nature Conservancy The Upper-Clinch Powell River Watershed

The Upper Clinch-Powell River Watershed is in the Appalachian Mountains of Virginia and Tennessee and is a leading national hotspot for biodiversity and imperiled species sustaining over 40 varieties of rare mussels and supporting at least 129 native types of fish.

Nearly $224,000 will be invested in the partnership between NRCS, The Nature Conservancy-Clinch Valley Program, and the states of Tennessee and Virginia—whereby Virginia is the lead state.

The project aims to improve water quality and aquatic habitat through a local working group whose task is to identify resources and prioritize best management practices (BMP), design a GIS-based ranking system for project investments, implement agricultural and mining BMPs in biologically critical areas, and assess the positive impacts of BMPs on water quality.  Applicants must be in Claiborne, Hancock, or Hawkins County and meet eligibility requirements to receive financial assistance for water quality and wildlife habitat improvement.

 

 

RCPP Fact Sheet

RCPP Fact Sheet (PDF, 391KB)​​

​RCPP Press Release

Tennessee NRCS Now Accepting Applications for RCPP Partnership Projects Aimed at Improving Water Quality, Wildlife Habitat and Soil Health

Partner Success Stories

The Regional Conservation Partnership Program brings together a wide array of local and national partners, including Indian tribes, nonprofit organizations, state and local governments, private industry, conservation districts, water districts, universities and many others. So far, more than 2,000 partners are engaged in locally-led conservation efforts through RCPP.

The most successful RCPP projects share four common characteristics. They innovate, leverage additional contributions, offer impactful solutions and engage more participants.

Read more about our partners and download our RCPP: Partner-led Solutions publication.

More Information

Learn how to get started with NRCS by visiting www.nrcs.usda.gov/GetStarted.

Contact

Find your local USDA Service Center

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