COLUMBUS, Ohio, April 29, 2021 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced it is investing $330 million in 85 locally driven, public-private partnerships to address climate change, improve the nation’s water quality, combat drought, enhance soil health, support wildlife habitat and protect agricultural viability, including three project(s) in Ohio. Projects are awarded through the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). USDA is investing $873,152 into Rocky Fork RCPP project, led by Ohio’s Highland Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD).
“The Regional Conservation Partnership Program is public-private partnerships working at their best,” said John Wilson, NRCS Acting State Conservationist in Ohio. “Highland Soil and Water Conservation’s project will harness the power of local partnerships to help bring about solutions to Ohio’s natural resource concerns while supporting our efforts to combat the climate crisis.”
USDA will coordinate with local partners on:
Rocky Fork RCPP: Highland Soil and Water Conservation District and five local state and federal partners will work with producers and landowners to protect water quality, reduce soil erosion, and provide habitat for at-risk species in the Rocky Fork Watershed. The partnership will help producers implement cover crops, field borders, and filter strips to reduce soil erosion and nutrient runoff, helping alleviate algal blooms in Rocky Fork Lake. Award $873,152
“The Highland Soil and Water Conservation District is excited to work with partners to enhance the environment in the Rocky Fork Watershed by implementing conservation practices,” said Pam Bushelman, SWCD Operations Manager. “This project will have an enormous positive effect on the economic and social development of the Rocky Fork Lake region by protecting water quality, providing wildlife habitat, and reducing sediment, which will help to alleviate algal blooms.”
These investments are in addition to two other Ohio RCPP projects focusing on the Western Lake Erie region:
H2Ohio: The Ohio Department of Agriculture will use RCPP funding to complement its H2Ohio initiative, launched in 2019. The initiative focuses land management practice and system implementation to reduce Lake Erie nutrient enrichment. A diverse group of 20 partners intend to focus this project on farms and farmers in a 10-county portion of the Western Lake Erie Basin (WLEB) not currently included in the H2Ohio program, thereby accelerating progress toward achieving Ohio's commitment to the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. Award $8,000,000
Tri-State Western Lake Erie Basin Collaboration: Indiana, Michigan and Ohio will join forces with over 30 partners, including the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Ohio Farm Bureau and the Ohio State University to help participating farmers improve soil health and reduce nutrient loading impacts in the Western Lake Erie Basin. The partnership will use sophisticated targeting tools to work with producers and landowners operating near the Maumee headwaters, an area identified as a source of high levels of excess phosphorus, with technical and financial assistance opportunities. Award: $7,780,779
Under the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is engaged in a whole-of-government effort to combat the climate crisis and conserve and protect our nation’s lands, biodiversity and natural resources including our soil, air and water. Through conservation practices and partnerships, including those through RCPP, USDA aims to enhance economic growth and create new streams of income for farmers, ranchers, producers and private foresters. Successfully meeting these challenges will require USDA and our agencies to pursue a coordinated approach alongside USDA stakeholders, including state, local and Tribal governments.
Through RCPP, conservation partners work in collaboration with NRCS to help farmers, ranchers and forest landowners throughout the nation to implement systems that conserve water and soil resources, improve the health of wildlife habitats and increase climate resilience.
RCPP partners offer value-added contributions to amplify the impact of RCPP funding. These projects offer impactful and measurable outcomes. Throughout its history, RCPP has leveraged partner contributions of more than $1 for every $1 invested by USDA, resulting in nearly $3 billion collectively invested in natural resource conservation on private lands. The Department anticipates the investments made today will generate at least $440 million in additional conservation funds by communities and other partners.
There are currently 336 active RCPP projects that have engaged more than 2,000 partners. For more information, visit the RCPP website.
USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. In the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit www.usda.gov.
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