Filter strip, photo courtesy USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.

USDA to invest up to $360 million in partner-driven conservation

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) on August 6 invited potential conservation partners to submit project applications for federal funding through the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). NRCS will award up to $360 million dollars to locally driven, public-private partnerships that improve the nation’s water quality, combat drought, enhance soil health, support wildlife habitat and protect agricultural viability.

“RCPP brings an expanded approach to investing in natural resource conservation that empowers local communities to work with multiple partners and agricultural producers to design solutions that work best for them,” said Matthew Lohr, NRCS Chief.

Partners may request between $250,000 and $10 million in RCPP funding through this funding announcement. Partners are expected to offer value-added contributions to amplify the impact of RCPP funding in an amount equal or greater to the NRCS investment.

Eligible lead partners are encouraged to apply. Funding is open to private industry, non-government organizations, Indian tribes, state and local governments, water districts and universities, among others. The full list of eligible entities is available in the RCPP funding announcement.

First authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill, RCPP has combined nearly $1 billion in NRCS investments with close to $2 billion in non-NRCS dollars to implement conservation practices across the nation. There are 336 active RCPP projects that have engaged more than 2,000 partners. Ohio has received over $12 million in eight projects since the beginning of the RCPP Program. Projects have targeted local needs in water quality, wildlife habitat, and invasive weed treatments.

“Through RCPP, Ohio NRCS can work with partners to address and solve natural resource conservation challenges,” said Terry Cosby, NRCS state conservationist in Ohio. “Preserving Ohio’s valuable natural resources is a responsibility we all must share, and partnerships formed through programs like RCPP help accomplish this worthwhile task.”

USDA is now accepting proposals for RCPP through the RCPP portal. Proposals are due by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on November 4, 2020. For more information, view the Application for Program Funding on grants.gov.

A webinar with general program information for RCPP applicants is scheduled for 3 p.m. Eastern Time on Aug 27, 2020. Visit the RCPP website for information on how to participate.

For more information on RCPP, visit the RCPP website.

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