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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 Program, the Cooperative Conservation Partnership Initiative and the Great Lakes Basin Program. Assistance is delivered in accordance with the rules of the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) and and the Health Forests Reserve Program (HFRP); and in certain areas the Watershed Operations and Flood Prevention Program.


Partnering for Conservation Solutions

In 2014, USDA announced the first projects across the country to receive federal funding as part of the Natural Resources Conservation Service's Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). Five Washington partners received funding. Since then, Washington partners have been approved for two projects in 2016, three in 2017 and one in 2018. 

Visit our national RCPP page to find information about all the RCPP projects and successful partnerships across the nation and for more information about the RCPP program.

Washington RCPP Funded Projects

Below is a list of all the Washington projects funded through 2018. To see a complete list of RCPP projects from across all 50 states and Puerto Rico, visit the National Website

2014-15

Palouse River Watershed (WRIA 34) Implementation Partnership
Lead partner: Palouse Conservation District

Through implementation of the Palouse River Watershed Management Plan, more than 15 partners will work with producers to address water quality concerns and reduce water quality regulatory action on producers in this area of Washington and Idaho. Innovative project components include promotion of the Farmed SMART Certification program (which provides an opportunity for environmental markets), enhanced incentives for riparian buffer establishment including five years of buffer maintenance, and the establishment of a watershed-wide monitoring effort that encourages landowner involvement in monitoring of natural resource conservation improvements. In addition to improved water quality, the project is expected to benefit fish and wildlife habitat, including four fish species of concern.

Precision Conservation for Salmon and Water Quality in the Puget Sound
Lead Partner: Washington State Conservation Commission

Partners will use an ecosystem-wide process for targeting high priority areas to improve water quality and habitat for at-risk species, including Chinook salmon, bull trout, and steelhead. Within focus areas, a farmer-to-farmer approach will be used to increase participation and ensure buy-in from the local community. 

Upper Columbia Irrigation Enhancement Project
Lead partner: Trout Unlimited, Inc.

This project will help fund irrigation efficiency improvements with large irrigators and irrigation districts to modernize water delivery infrastructure. Enhanced instream flows will benefit critical spawning and rearing areas for Endangered Species Act (ESA) fish and provide passage during migration during seasonal low flows. Complementing multiple existing conservation plans in the region, the project’s goal is to implement irrigation efficiencies and increase instream flows in critical Upper Columbia Tributaries.  Conservation activities will decrease stream temperature and reduce delivery of fertilizers and pesticides to ESA salmon-bearing tributaries. The Washington Water Project of Trout Unlimited (TU-WWP) will place the water savings from the efficiency improvements into the Washington State Trust Water Right Program.

Yakama Nation On-Reservation Lower Yakima Basin Restoration Project
Lead Partner: Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation

This project addresses critical needs for the integrated conservation and restoration of fish and wildlife habitat, water quantity, and water quality on the Yakama Reservation in the lower Yakima River basin. The actions in this project will accelerate the recovery of threatened middle Columbia steelhead on the lower tributaries of the Yakima River, which currently produce more than 50 percent of the wild steelhead population in the Yakima basin. These actions will also benefit multiple other aquatic and riparian species, including chinook and sockeye salmon, Pacific lamprey, and important cultural plant species.

Unlocking Carbon Markets for Non-Industrial Private Forest Landowners in the Pacific Northwest
Lead Partner: Pinchot Institute for Conservation

By aggregating landowners into groups, the American Carbon Registry (ACR) reduces transaction costs for carbon credit trading and allows small producers to participate. This project will target approximately 250 non-industrial private approximately 250 non-industrial private forest landowners in Oregon and Washington who wish to participate in a regional carbon crediting program and who possess lands in NRCS and state priority areas as defined in regional conservation strategies. Targeted parcels will be between 75 and 4,000 acres in size, with the majority being less than 250 acres. NRCS and partner assistance will cover much of the initial expense of participating in carbon projects, specifically the development of a forest management plan and subsequent implementation of pre-commercial thinning to enhance carbon stocks.

Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation Water Quality and Habitat Improvement Project
Leader Partner: Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation

This project will address primary resource concerns related to water quality degradation, inadequate habitat for fish and wildlife, and degraded plant condition on the Colville Indian Reservation. The project includes: stream crossing repair/removal, road decommissioning, road drainage installation, feral horse management, sharp-tailed grouse habitat restoration, Columbia River redband trout habitat restoration, wetland/riparian protection, and outreach/education on Tribal land. Project sites include land used for timber harvest, grazing and a historically drained wetland. Partner contributions include project planning and implementation, cultural resource surveys, applicable NEPA and resource monitoring. The Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation has the capacity to gauge project success through well-developed monitoring protocols.

2016

Greater Spokane River Watershed Implementation
Lead Partner: Spokane Conservation District

Significant sources of sediments and nutrients are carried to the Spokane River watershed by its larger tributaries, and low dissolved oxygen levels and algae blooms threaten aquatic life in the Spokane River, Lake Spokane and Coeur d’Alene Lake. Reducing nutrients is key to resolving water quality degradation throughout the Greater Spokane River Bi-State Watershed. TMDL and lake management implementation plans stress the need to address agriculture and forestry within these watersheds. This project supports regional momentum towards adoption of conservation tillage operations and best management practices. Tens of thousands of agricultural and forestry acres, including a tribal farm, will benefit through voluntary NRCS programs. Wildlife and fish habitat will be protected and long-term easements will be developed for several forest and wetland acquisitions. In addition, this project will introduce a new program that involves using the Risk Management Insurance models to compensate producers for the loss of productive land entered into vegetative buffers. This new commodity buffer program is designed to bridge the financial gap in current cost-share programs and encourage producers to cooperatively implement these practices on their farms. Project success will be evaluated by extensive watershed based field monitoring to track improvements in water, soil and habitat.


WRIA 1 Salmon Recovery & Water Quality 
Lead Partner: Whatcom Conservation District

The Nooksack watershed is in the top three percent of agricultural producing counties 
in the nation and has threatened or salmon species and imperiled shellfish harvest areas. Partners have recruited twenty-two landowners ready to implement priority projects remedying inadequate habitat for fish and wildlife in the Nooksack River watershed in North Puget Sound, Washington State. Partners will work with producers to: replace culverts on farm access roads, restoring fish passages in agricultural and rural areas; work with Tribes to construct instream wooden structures to provide habitat for salmon; and integrate and publicize NRCS programs into the rural, agricultural and Tribal communities. The result will be higher priority and more strategic projects to recover salmon and improve water quality in downstream commercial, ceremonial and subsistence shellfish beds operated by the Lummi Nation.
 

2017

Puyallup Watershed Partnership
Lead Partner: Pierce Conservation District

Through the Puyallup Watershed Partnership, the Pierce Conservation District and ten diverse partners will assist landowners with permanent conservation easements and implement restoration activities through Environmental Quality Incentives Program funding assistance. The Puyallup in Washington contains the only remaining prime soils in Pierce County, is home to one of the most urban tribal reservations, and provides essential habitat for Endangered Species Act listed species of coho and Chinook salmon, steelhead, and bull trout. Since 2002, Pierce County has lost almost 10,000 acres of farmland, nearly five times the state average, due to rapidly encroaching development from the Seattle/Tacoma metropolitan area. That loss not only impacts farmers and food security but also diminishes the ecosystem benefits that farmland provides to water and soil quality.

Yakima Integrated Plan - Toppenish to Teanaway
Lead Partner: Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation

The Yakima Integrated Plan will accelerate the recovery of threatened Middle Columbia steelhead by targeting high priority watersheds which currently produce more than 50% of the wild steelhead run in the Yakima River Basin. These actions will also increase water supply and water quality for environmental, economic and cultural purposes. This project will fund actions supported by diverse partners to enact holistic, innovative solutions to natural resource conservation issues. These actions will restore fish habitat in over 50 miles of channels across 2,500 acres; restore riparian vegetation on over 10 miles of stream banks; enhance fish access to over 480 acres of aquatic habitat; increase water retention in 2,000 acres of ephemeral channels; and improve grazing management across 3,500 floodplain acres and 34,000 upland grazing acres. In addition, the project will target over 30,000 acres for irrigation efficiency enhancements, over 25,000 acres for Conservation Stewardship practices and protect 500 acres of floodplain farmland through easements. Monitoring of these actions will occur through existing programs. The project stems from extensive collaborative efforts in recent years by Yakima Basin Integrated Plan Workgroup, which represents over 20 stakeholders from environmental, agricultural, and tribal interests working to restore habitat and conserve water resources in the Yakima Basin.

Southwest Washington Non-industrial Private Forest Conservation Partnership
Lead Partner: Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

Non-industrial private forest lands in southwest Washington are important to the regional and state economies. In addition 
to timber harvest, these working forests provide many functions including: fish and wildlife habitat, protection of water quality, flood reduction, recreational opportunities and carbon sequestration to help combat climate change. The project area includes Grays Harbor, Mason, Thurston, Lewis Pacific, Wahkiakum, Cowlitz and Clark Counties. Washington Department of Natural Resources and conservation districts will conduct outreach and education activities and provide technical assistance to NIPF owners to develop and implement stewardship plans with funding from the Environmental Quality Incentives Program and Conservation Stewardship Program. Washington State Conservation Commission will distribute NRCS technical assistance funding to the conservation districts. Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife will administer the RCPP and assess fish and wildlife habitat and species presence on lands enrolled in the Healthy Forests Reserve Program and other participating lands with willing owners. The HFRP program will be focused in the Chehalis watershed and includes provisions for conservation easements and habitat restoration to benefit marbled murrelet and northern spotted 
owl. Program participants could have multiple options for regulatory certainty by implementing conservation practices. Participating landowners will provide at least 25% cost share to match implementation funding from NRCS. Projects funded by the RCPP will improve fish and wildlife habitat, protect water quality, improve forest resiliency in the face climate change, and help meet regulatory requirements while keeping working forests working.

2018

Whatcom County Working Lands Conserving Watersheds
Lead Partner: Whatcom County

Whatcom County Working Lands Conserving Watersheds aims to protect working lands within identified priority watersheds in Whatcom County to help to stabilize the critical land base needed to maintain a long-term commercially significant agriculture industry. Many parcels within the priority watersheds are at risk of being developed to the degree where neither agriculture nor full ecosystem function can occur. Working Lands Conserving Watersheds will provide Whatcom County landowners financial incentives needed to keep their lands in production and will require actions are taken to address identified resource concerns.

How to Apply for an RCPP Project

Eligible partners interested in applying should visit the "RCPP How to Apply" national webpage. 

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.

SAM Registration and DUNS Number

If you are an entity applying for an RCPP project, you will need to obtain a Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number and be registered with the System for Award Management (SAM). For more information, click on the SAM - DUNS fact sheet below.

Eligible Participants/Landowners - If you are located within an existing RCPP project, contact the lead partner for information on how and when to apply. 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. ​

Washington State Contact

Laura Williams, State RCPP Coordinator
laura.williams@wa.usda.gov
509-323-2988

To learn how to get started with NRCS, visit www.nrcs.usda.gov/GetStarted