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Regional Conservation Partnership Program

Regional Conservation Partnership Program

Overview

The Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) promotes coordination of NRCS conservation activities with eligible partners that offer value-added contributions to expand our collective ability to address on-farm, watershed, and regional natural resource concerns. A Notice of funding Opportunity (NFO), calling for proposal submissions, is released approximately every year.  Successful projects demonstrate innovative solutions to conservation challenges and provide measurable improvements and outcomes tied to the resource concerns they seek to address.

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Resources


RCPP Informational Webinar Series

The Natural Resources Conservation Service in Washington (NRCS-WA) is hosting four informational webinars in October on the newly established 2018 Farm Bill Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). The first two are linked below, and more information on the series can be found here.

First Session | An Introduction to RCPP | Presentation
Second Session | RCPP & Conservation Easements | Presentation
Third Session | RCPP Watershed & Public Works | Presentation
Fourth Session | Developing an RCPP Proposal | Presentation


Active RCPP Projects in Washington

Washington State currently manages 12 RCPP projects.

Regional Conservation Partnership Program Map

Click here for a high resolution version of the map.

Washington RCPP Funded Projects

Washington currently is the lead on 11 RCPP agreements from the 2014 Farm Bill, established between 2014-2018. A summary of each is below as well as links to two WA State RCPP Fact Sheets.

2016

Greater Spokane River Watershed Implementation
Lead Partner: Spokane Conservation District
Project end date: Sept. 30, 2022
Click here to access their website


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
Project end date: Sept. 30, 2022
Click here to access their website


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
Project end date: Sept. 30, 2023


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
Project end date: Sept. 20, 2022


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
Project end date: Sept. 30, 2023
Click here to access their website


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
Project end date: Sept. 30, 2023

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.

2019

Poop Smart Clark
Lead Partner: Clark Conservation District
Project end date: Feb. 9, 2029
Click here to access their website

Cradled in the bend of the Columbia River, Clark County is a county of contradictions: tidy small farms, exploding development, scenic recreational areas - and polluted waters. Clark CD has worked tirelessly to improve water quality and now, through a new partnership, proposes to target resource concerns in a fresh way. The Poop Smart Clark RCPP is a Pollution Identification and Correction (PIC) program that utilizes expertise from local agencies and nonprofits to reduce sediment, nutrient, and bacteria runoff in Clark County. Through pollution source identification, targeted outreach, education, and implementation of on-the-ground practices, Poop Smart Clark connects landowners with the tools they need to correct pollution, drive social change and spur adoption of better management practices. The East Fork Lewis River forms the hydrologic backbone of our county, reaching from the mountains to the Columbia River. This watershed is a vital link in the agricultural, recreational, and residential communities, and provides critical salmon rearing habitat. Recent habitat restoration work opened the lower floodplain to salmon, yet extensive monitoring by the Washington Department of Ecology has revealed that this watershed falls below the state water quality standards for fecal coliform bacteria and temperature. This puts both Clark County residents and aquatic life at risk. Clark CD will direct our highest priority efforts to this watershed. The goal of the Poop Smart Clark RCPP is to improve impaired water quality. Using technical and financial assistance to landowners, the five RCPP partners will reduce pathogen, nutrient, and sediment levels in area streams, as well as improve soil health and restore habitat on participating properties. Direct measurement of water quality will provide real time feedback on accomplishments. RCPP funds will be used in targeted on-the-ground conservation projects that address the sources of the water quality resource concerns.

Palouse River Implementation Partnership WRIA 34
Lead Partner: Palouse Conservation District
Project end date: Dec. 6, 2026
Click here to access their website

The Palouse River Watershed spans over five counties in Washington and Idaho and encompasses both fertile agriculture land and critical habitat for fish and wildlife. The goals of the Palouse River Watershed RCPP are to implement best management practices that address resource concerns associated with water quality, soil health, and at-risk wildlife habitat within the Palouse Watershed. The Palouse RCPP will continue to meet deliverables under the same scope of geographic area and natural resource concerns. However, two additional work objectives will be integrated to compliment the three originally defined objectives: 1. Implement riparian buffers (continuation). 2. Implement conservation tillage and Farmed Smart certification (continuation). 3. Obtain conservation easements to protect prime farmland and Palouse Prairie vegetation communities (continuation). 4. Implement soil health management systems (expanded): Incentivize producers to move beyond conservation tillage by targeting practices such as precision nutrient management, cover crops, and no-till through the utilization of programs such as EQIP, CSP and CRP. 5. Mitigate flooding (expanded) – Implementing practices to mitigate flooding caused by straightening, incising, sedimentation, development, or poor upland management that affecting communities and landowners. Partners and researchers are developing an innovative watershed planning tool to identify critical source areas of runoff and erosion that will be incorporated into the ranking criteria across both continued and expanded objectives to further optimize the effectiveness of Resource Management Systems (RMS) level planning and practices for future RCPP applicants.

2020-21

2243 WRIA 1 Salmon Recovery and Water Quality
Lead Partner: Whatcom Conservation District
Project end date: June 1, 2021
Click here to access their website

Salmon and Orca recovery is the most critical conservation challenge in the Pacific Northwest. ESA listed species are critical to the economy of the region and to the culture, subsistence, and economic wellbeing of Native American Tribes. The Nooksack River is the northern most river in the Puget Sound Basin of Washington State. The upper watershed is largely intact and some of the most productive farmland in the world is found in the lower watershed. A key group of partners have established a robust program to improve aquatic habitat and degraded plant conditions affecting ESA listed Salmon and Steelhead in the Pacific Northwest. Producers here face many economic challenges as well as conservation concerns. Water availability, flood control, urban growth, and water quality effects to downstream shellfish beds are just the beginning of what producers have to think about as they manage their farms. They are generally not opposed to conservation practices that benefit Salmon and Orca but have little time and even less money to put towards such work. Recognizing this the partners have developed an innovative means to leverage local resources and expertise along with RCPP funding to make the implementation of habitat practices hands free and no cost to producers. The Salmon Recovery Plan for the Nooksack River watershed focuses on three practices: removing barriers to fish passage (396 Aquatic Organism Passage), placing large wood habitat structures in the stream channel (396 Stream Habitat Improvement and Management), and planting riparian buffers (391 Riparian Forest Buffer). These are the focus practices for this project. All provide not only benefits to fish but also to farms.


2382 Nooksack Watershed Restoration
Lead Partner: Lummi Nation
Project end date: Sept. 17, 2026

The goal of the Nooksack Watershed Restoration Project is to address the natural resource concerns of inadequate aquatic habitat for fish and water quality degradation. The project will restore fluvial processes to improve ESA-listed salmonid spawning, rearing and holding habitat while increasing low flow and thermal refugia. Project objectives focus on root causes of habitat degradation, namely the lack of large, stable log jams that maintain habitat-forming processes. The project addresses habitat limiting factors identified in the WRIA 1 Salmonid Recovery Plan (lack of key habitats, low habitat diversity, high water temperature, high channel instability, and elevated fine sediment). This project consists of five restoration projects split between two tribal partners - Lummi Natural Resources and Nooksack Natural Resources - working to recover two native chinook salmon populations essential to the recovery of ESA-listed Puget Sound chinook. Project objectives focus on the root causes of inadequate aquatic habitat for fish and water quality degradation, namely the lack of large, stable log jams that maintain habitat-forming processes. We will install 92 engineered logjams (ELJs), 55 feet of flood fencing, remove or lower 1,850 linear feet of riprap levee, and plant 38.05 acres of riparian trees. 1. Increase key habitat quality and diversity by creating pools with engineered logjams (ELJs). 2. Increase length of secondary channels (near-term) and side channels (longer-term). 3. Increase the availability of cold-water refuges (areas over 2C cooler than ambient). 4. Increase rearing habitat by re-connecting, creating and/or enhancing wetland and/or floodplain habitat. 5. Improve riparian forest conditions in and within 300 feet of the Historic Migration Zone. Over time, mature vegetation will reduce stream temperature.

2344 Fuel Break & forest Resilience Partnership
Lead Partner: Cascadia Conservation District
Project End Date: Nov. 29, 2026

The goal of this project is to improve and reduce risk to habitat in Eastern Washington’s Wenatchee Subbasin. The project will address priority resource concerns for the state including inadequate habitat for fish and wildlife, water quality degradation, and drought conditions. Through partner collaboration and implementing conservation practices in strategic locations, fish and wildlife habitat will become more resilient to wildfire, pest damage, drought and disease. Cascadia will be project lead and partner with NRCS, state, local, and regional partners, to use RCPP flexibilities and innovative measures to incentivize landowner participation and increase environmental outcomes. The Wenatchee Valley is home to critical habitat for several endangered and sensitive species (ESA), as well as a thriving agricultural economy. Over 100 years of fire exclusion, past forest management, and development has resulted in an unhealthy forest landscape. The Quantitative Wildfire Risk Assessment (QFRA), commissioned by USDA Forest Service, found the Wenatchee Valley is the highest risk community for catastrophic wildfire compared to all other communities in Washington and Oregon. Project partners have recently invested over 3 million dollars in planning efforts including, landscape evaluations, NEPA planning and risk modeling to determine where investments should occur to reduce risk to forest lands, ESA listed species and water resources. These planning efforts are foundational to this proposal as they identified specific landscapes and projects where investment in forest restoration is strategic, adequately scaled, and urgently needed. Importantly, our existing collaboration has built strong working relationships and trust between our local, state, and federal partners to build landscapes and communities more resilient to wildfire and drought. We are prepared, technically competent, and passionate about providing resources to forest landowners to address an urgent need.

2326 Middle Columbia Steelhead Partnership
Lead Partner: Yakama Nation
Project end date: Not yet available

This proposal addresses critical needs for integrated conservation and restoration of watersheds. The primary resource concerns are degradation of habitat, water quality and water quantity. This proposal will accelerate the recovery of Steelhead within the reservation and ceded lands of the Yakama Nation, including the Yakima, Klickitat, Rock and White Salmon River basins within the ESA designated Middle Columbia Steelhead ESU. These actions will also benefit multiple other aquatic and riparian species, including coho, chinook sockeye, Pacific lamprey, and important cultural plant species. Funds awarded under the RCPP will enable the Yakama Nation to coordinate actions from multiple resource management partners in order to enact a holistic, watershed based approach to addressing natural resource degradation. This proposal will restore habitat to benefit 22.5 miles of main and side channels, reconnect 111 acres of floodplain, restore 80 acres of riparian habitat, install 9621 feet of fence, thin 10 acres of forest, plant 149 acres of native upland vegetation and treat 172 acres of weeds. The project will realize over 4602 acre/feet of annual water savings with 15.5 miles of piped/lined irrigation canals, 1170 acres of cropland converted to sprinklers, and replace 8 obsolete diversion dams/screens with fish friendly structures, opening up 2.4 miles of habit. Actions are grouped into 3 types: habitat restoration, irrigation efficiency and water quality. Habitat actions will restore aquatic/floodplain and upland habitat, and increase fish passage. Irrigation efficiency actions include piping/lining open ditches, reducing/eliminating irrigation return flows and the installation of water measurement. Water quality actions include eliminating irrigation spills into steelhead waters. In summation, these actions will have a positive cumulative effect on Mid-Columbia Steelhead, a critical species of cultural and ecological importance to the Yakama Nation.

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Existing 2018 Farm Bill Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) Projects

Poop Smart Clark
RCPP 1877
RCPP 1877 FY22 Ranking Pool Report
WRIA 1 Salmon Recovery and Water Quality 2.0
RCPP 2243
RCPP 2243 FY22 Ranking Pool Report
Nooksack Watershed Restoration
RCPP 2283
Work Pending
Fuel Break & Forest Resilience Partnership
RCPP 2344
Work Pending
Palouse River Watershed (WRIA 34) Implementation Partnership
RCPP 2128
Work Pending
Middle Columbia Steelhead Partnership
RCPP 2326
Work Pending


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Partner's Corner

SA Payments & Annual Reports Presentation

Resources for Lead Partners of RCPP Projects

West Area FY22 Producer Contracts Presentation

April 11, 2022 East Area Producer Contract & Payment Briefing

April 13, 2022 Central Area Producer Contract & Payment Briefing

 


 

Washington State Contact

Laura Williams, State RCPP Coordinator
laura.williams@usda.gov
509-323-2988 [Call: 509-323-2988]