EAST LANSING, April 16, 2020 – USDA’s Natural Resources Service (NRCS) today announced that it is investing $762,740 in Barry County for a partner-driven conservation project through its Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP).
“I’m excited to announce the first RCPP award under the 2018 Farm Bill,” said Garry Lee, State Conservationist in Michigan. “Through collaboration and aligning our resources toward a common goal, we’re making an impact for natural resource conservation that could never have been realized on our own.”
RCPP uses a partner-driven approach to fund innovative solutions to natural resource challenges. Through RCPP, NRCS and partners work together with private landowners and producers to implement a variety of conservation activities, including land management practices and systems, short-term land rentals, conservation easements and watershed structures. The mix of conservation activities carried out under each project is dependent on a project’s goals, objectives and conservation benefits.
These projects offer impactful and measurable outcomes. They will support diverse agricultural and natural resource objectives, from helping farmers and ranchers improve water quality, soil health and drought resiliency to protecting drinking water supplies and enhancing wildlife habitat.
In Michigan, NRCS and a partnership led by the Barry Conservation District will implement a farmer-led effort to improve water quality and aquatic habitat in the Gun, Rabbit and Thornapple River watersheds. The project area includes portions of Allegan, Barry, Eaton, Ionia, Kent and Ottawa counties. The partnership will work with farmers and landowners to install conservation practices that reduce the amount of sediment and excess nutrients entering streams and rivers. The project includes additional local partners including the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians.
Nationally, NRCS is investing $206 million for 48 partner-driven conservation projects across 29 states, while leveraging nearly $300 million in partner contributions.
Though RCPP was first authorized in the 2014 Farm Bill, the 2018 Farm Bill made changes to strengthen the program and simplify its rules. RCPP is now a stand-alone program with $300 million annually available for partner-driven projects. In addition to the general RCPP projects announced today, NRCS has already awarded more than $50 million for 18 renewals of 2014 Farm Bill projects. A separate RCPP Alternative Funding Arrangements (AFA) funding announcement is currently open until May 18.
Since 2015, RCPP has combined $1 billion in NRCS investments with close to $2 billion in partner dollars to implement conservation practices nationwide. There are currently 341 active RCPP projects and close to 2,000 RCPP partners.
Read more about theRegional Conservation Partnership Program.