USDA Invests More Than $200 Million in Partner-Driven Projects that Protect Natural Resources
WASHINGTON, April 16, 2020 – USDA’s Natural Resources Service (NRCS) today announced it is investing in 48 conservation projects across 29 states through its Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). NRCS will award $206 million for these 48 RCPP projects while leveraging nearly $300 million in partner contributions.
“I’m excited to announce the first RCPP awards under the 2018 Farm Bill,” said NRCS Chief Matthew Lohr. “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.
Projects selected for this round of funding include:
- The Massachusetts Division of Ecological Restoration (DER) and a diverse group of 17 partnering organizations propose to protect and restore historic wetlands on retiring cranberry farmland in Massachusetts. The partnership plans 20 projects to restore 900 acres of high-value wetlands and 1,800 acres of protected open space using an innovative process-based restoration approach developed specifically for cranberry bogs coming out of production. This creates habitat for wildlife while also storing water and improving water quality.
- The San Joaquin Valley Land and Water Conservation Collaborative (SJVCC) in California seeks to catalyze cooperation in the Valley to address water resource issues by using cutting-edge planning tools that ensure the most efficient use of resources and result in the strategic protection and stewardship of agricultural land. The partners plan to target outreach to historically underserved and female producers.
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.
For more information, visit the RCPP webpage.