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Regional Conservation Partnership Program

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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 EQIP, CSP, ACEP and HFRP; and in certain areas the Watershed Operations 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 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.

Wisconsin RCPP Projects (apply by November 16, 2018)

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)

Map of Eligible Areas (3.09MB pdf)
Plan and Process (49KB 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 (340KB pdf)
Plan and Process (53KB pdf)
Screening Tool Checklist (261KB 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 (2.8MB pdf)
Plan and Process (42KB 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 (4.89MB pdf)
Plan and Process (32KB 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.

Lafayette County Agricultural Enterprise Area Water Quality Project 

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 RCPP-EQIP Ranking
  • Monarch RCPP-EQIP Plan and Process
  • Monarch RCPP-CSP Ranking
  • Monarch RCPP-CSP Plan and Process
  • Monarch Butterfly Habitat Development Factsheet
  • 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.

Milwaukee River Watershed Conservation Partnership

  • 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)
  • 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.
  • 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

Yahara River

Oconomowoc River

Project Sign-up Completed

Driftless Area - Habitat for the Wild and Rare

  • Map of Eligible Areas
  • Plan of Operations and Processes
  • Application Ranking Summary
  • Proposed NRCS Investment: $2.9 million (National)
  • Lead Partner: Trout Unlimited
  • Number of Partners: 30
  • Participating State(s): Minnesota & Wisconsin (lead state)
  • 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

Funding

Funding for RCPP is allocated to projects in three different categories.

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

Eligibility

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.  RCPP assistance is also available independent of a partner if the land is located either in a partner project area or in a critical conservation area designated by the Secretary. 

How to Apply

NRCS will release an announcement for program funding, that will outline requirements for proposal submissions for funding. NRCS will review partnership proposals according to the priorities identified in the announcement and make project selections. Upon selection of a partnership proposal, NRCS and the partner will enter into a partnership agreement through which they will coordinate to provide producers in the project area assistance. Partnership agreements may be for a period of up to five years. NRCS may extend an agreement one time for an additional 12 months if needed to meet the objectives of the program.

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

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