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Regional Conservation Partnership Program


The Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) offers new opportunities for the NRCS, conservation partners and agricultural producers to work together to harness innovation, expand the conservation mission and demonstrate the value and efficacy of voluntary, private lands conservation.

How to Apply

Please click here for more information on how to apply. Please contact the Wisconsin RCPP coordinator early in the process to discuss potential proposals.

State RCPP Contact: Matt Otto, 608-662-4422 x245


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.

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.

Current Wisconsin RCPP Projects (Apply by November 20, 2020. Applications are accepted on a continuous basis.)

Baraboo River Watershed II

Proposed NRCS Investment: $1,073,000 (Critical Conservation Area-Mississippi River Basin)
Lead Partner: Sauk County Conservation, Planning and Zoning Department
Number of Initial Partners: 3
Participating States: Wisconsin (Lead State)

Screening Tool (181 KB PDF)
Map of Eligible Areas (3.09 MB PDF)
Plan and Process (141 KB PDF)

This project seeks to improve water quality within the Baraboo River Watershed in Sauk County and Juneau County in Wisconsin through the promotion and installation of soil and water conservation practices. The partners will target areas which contribute to phosphorus and sediment loading to surface waters. The Baraboo River has been identified as the second greatest contributor of total phosphorus loading to the Wisconsin River, which is a large tributary of the Upper Mississippi River.

Driftless Area Habitat for the Wild & Rare Phase 2

Proposed NRCS Investment: $9,203,000 (National)
Lead Partner: Trout Unlimited
Number of Initial Partners: 46
Participating States: Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin (Lead State)

Map of Eligible Areas (340 KB PDF)
Plan and Process (148 KB PDF)

The Jo Daviess Conservation Foundation and its partners will target areas in the Driftless Area where land restoration and land protection will have the most positive impact on water quality by implementing permanent conservation practices that reduce pollution and sediment runoff into streams. RCPP funding will provide a new comprehensive, targeted regional approach to restoring cold-water streams and their riparian areas for the benefit of the many at-risk species. The project will assist landowners reduce pollution and sediment runoff through the adoption of key conservation practices. Agricultural Conservation Easement Program funding will purchase agricultural conservation easements to install permanent conservation practices such as riparian buffers and filter strips.

Little Plover River Watershed

Proposed NRCS Investment: $295,000 (State)
Lead Partner: Village of Plover
Number of Initial Partners: 5
Participating States: Wisconsin (Lead State)

Map of Eligible Areas (2.8 MB PDF)
Pl an and Process (142 KB PDF)

This project will be the first in Wisconsin to apply groundwater modeling to help deliver conservation practices to the locations in the Central Sands region of Wisconsin which will most effectively address resource needs. The partners will use EQIP to install on-farm practices. Match funding will implement larger scale restoration and municipal and agricultural infrastructure improvements. Project outcomes will be improved instream flows and water quality, increased groundwater recharge, soil conservation, and improved fish and wildlife habitat.

Tall Pines Conservancy Farmland Protection Program

Proposed NRCS Investment: $524,000 (State)
Lead Partner: Tall Pines Conservancy
Number of Initial Partners: 6
Participating States: Wisconsin (Lead State)

Map of Eligible Areas (4.89 MB PDF)
Plan and Process (32 KB PDF)
This project, led by Tall Pines Conservancy (TPC), will use Agricultural Conservation Easement Program Agricultural Land Easements funding to acquire farmland easements at three different project sites in the watershed. Environmental Quality Incentives Program land practices will mitigate natural resource concerns at each project location. Additionally, Nutrient Management Plans will be developed as needed to identify resource concerns at the project locations. The long-term project goals are to decrease soil reduction; improve habitat quality; and reduce loading of sediments, nutrients, and pollutants into tributaries and lakes in the Oconomowoc River watershed. This will be accomplished by implementation of practices that conserve soil and slow overland flow in agriculture, forestry, and urban areas.

Oconomowoc River

Map of Eligible Areas (500 KB PDF)
Plan and Process (139 KB PDF)
Oconomowoc River Practices (12 KB PDF)

NOTE: Conservation Stewardship Program Funding is also available in this project, click here for more information.

Lafayette County Agricultural Enterprise Area Water Quality Project 

Map of Eligible Areas (15.5 MB PDF)
Plan and Process (136 KB PDF)

Project Sign-up Completed

Improving Working Lands for Monarch Butterflies

Proposed NRCS Investment: $6 million (National)
Lead Partner: National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
Number of Partners: 12
Participating State(s): Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas (Lead State) & Wisconsin (Statewide)

NOTE: Conservation Stewardship Program Funding is also available in this project, click here for more information.

Monarch Butterfly Habitat Development Factsheet (688 KB PDF)
Map of Eligible Areas (4 MB PDF)

Our partnership will restore, manage and conserve wildlife habitat for monarch butterflies on agricultural and tribal lands using four main strategies: conservation planning and assessment; habitat improvement and best management practices; building an adequate seed supply for milkweed and nectar plants; and, enhancing organizational coordination and capacity. To provide the greatest conservation outcomes, the project will focus work within two NRCS Critical Conservation Areas: Prairie Grasslands Region and Mississippi River Basin. Targeted areas will be identified through a US Geological Survey-led initiative examining fine-scale opportunities for the restoration of milkweed and other pollinator plants. This project will contribute to national goals in terms of habitat and increase the number of monarch butterflies. This in turn will represent the best opportunity to avoid future regulations related to monarch butterflies from being imposed on farmers and ranchers in the future.

Driftless Area - Habitat for the Wild and Rare

Proposed NRCS Investment: $2.9 million (National)
Lead Partner: Trout Unlimited
Number of Partners: 30
Participating State(s): Minnesota & Wisconsin (Lead State)

Map of Eligible Areas (340 KB PDF)
Plan and Process (148 KB PDF)

The Driftless Area (DA) was bypassed by the last continental glacier and features steep valleys, sandstone bluffs and more than 600 unique spring-fed creeks and ridges once covered in prairie and scattered oaks. This ancient landscape supports a variety of plants and animals, including dozens of uncommon species of birds of woodland and grassland habitats, reptiles and amphibians, and abundant populations of native fish found in the high concentration of cold-water streams. The DA's diversity of habitat provides critical habitat for dozens of species of concern in the State Wildlife Action Plans, and has been cited as one of North America's most important resources. Early agricultural practices that were not suitable for the unique landscape of the DA resulted in severe erosion and sedimentation. Land use practices and conservation efforts have helped heal the land, but the legacy of the past damage is still visible in the valleys and steep stream banks. For the past nine years Trout Unlimited's Driftless Area Restoration Effort has been working with partners to restore structural diversity, ecological function and overall health. This project will provide a new comprehensive, targeted regional approach to restoring prairie, oak woodlands and streams for the benefit of the many at-risk species and abundant concentrations of native species found in the DA landscape.

Baraboo River

Map of Eligible Areas (220 KB PDF)
Application Ranking Summary (63 KB PDF)
Plan and Process (68 KB PDF)
Baraboo River Practices (20 KB PDF)

Milwaukee River Watershed Conservation Partnership

Lead Partner: Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District
Number of Partners: 18
Participating State(s): Wisconsin

NOTE: Conservation Stewardship Program Funding is also available in this project, click here for more information.

Map of Eligible Areas
Milwaukee RCPP-EQIP Plan and Process
Milwaukee RCPP-EQIP Ranking
Milwaukee RCPP-CSP Plan and Process
Milwaukee RCPP-CSP Ranking
Proposed NRCS Investment: $1.5 million (State)

This diverse partnership will implement cost effective conservation solutions that will improve water quality and soil quality along the impaired Milwaukee River corridor. A major tributary to Lake Michigan, the Milwaukee River is plagued with water quality degradation caused in part by high levels of phosphorous and sediment-laden runoff. Project objectives include: 1) recruit landowner participation in EQIP and CSP by promoting EQIP practices through demonstration workshops, agriculture innovation field days and incentives; 2) protect eight properties across 765 acres on priority agricultural lands using ACEP-ALE; and 3) coordinate and facilitate diverse groups - a farmer-led watershed group, working lands group and citizen advisory committee - to educate and promote conservation to farmers.

American Bird Conservancy

Read the Factsheet: Improving Forest Health for Wildlife (1.46 MB PDF)
Map of Eligible Areas (212 KB PDF)
Application Ranking Summary (80 KB PDF)
Plan and Process (including practices list) (148 KB PDF)

Yahara River

Map of Eligible Areas (221 KB PDF)
Application Ranking Summary (38 KB PDF)
Plan and Process (69 KB PDF)
Yahara River Practices (93 KB PDF)


Funding for RCPP is allocated evenly to projects in two different categories, state/multi-state and critical conservation areas.

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.

Wisconsin State Resource Priorities

  • Water Quality Degradation
  • Soil Erosion
  • Soil Quality Degradation
  • Inadequate Habitat for Fish and Wildlife
  • Degraded Plant Conditions
  • Livestock Production Limitation
  • Excess Water and Insufficient Water
  • Air Quality
  • Insufficient Energy


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.  

How to Apply

Please click here for more information on how to apply. Please contact the Wisconsin RCPP coordinator early in the process to discuss potential proposals.

State RCPP Contact: Matt Otto, 608-662-4422 x245 

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
  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

To learn how to get started with NRCS, visit

State RCPP Contact: Matt Otto, 608-662-4422 x245


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