USDA Announces $260 Million available for Regional Conservation Partnership Program

Applications sought with a focus on environmental markets, conservation finance

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced on March 10, 2016, the availability of up to $260 million for partner proposals to improve the nation's water quality, combat drought, enhance soil health, support wildlife habitat and protect agricultural viability. 

The funding is being made available through USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service’s (NRCS) innovative Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) and applicants must be able to match the federal award with private or local funds.

Created by the 2014 Farm Bill, RCPP investments of nearly $600 million have already driven 199 partner-led projects. The program leverages local leadership to establish partnerships that can include private companies, local and tribal governments, universities, non-profits and other non-government partners to work with farmers, ranchers and forest landowners on landscape- and watershed-scale conservation solutions that work best for their region.

Projects from the first round of investment are already showing results. In New Mexico, an RCPP partnership between the Interstate Stream Commission and an acequia—a local communal irrigation system—has addressed long-standing infrastructure failures to significantly reduce water needs by improving irrigation efficiency. In Oregon, removal of encroaching juniper was part of the West-wide private lands conservation effort that helped obviate the need to list the Greater sage-grouse on the endangered species list.

USDA is now accepting proposals for Fiscal Year 2017 RCPP funding. Pre-proposals are due May 10. For more information on applying, visit the RCPP website.