The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is accepting applications for the Regional Conversation Partnership Program (RCPP) through Friday, May 29. The program is designed to foster collaboration between NRCS and partners through co-investment in conservation projects.
“The Regional Conversation Partnership Program has been in place since the 2014 Farm Bill and it has been reauthorized under the 2018 Farm Bill that’s currently going through 2023,” said Carlos Suarez, NRCS State Conservationist in California. “The purpose of RCPP is to look at those watersheds or specific areas within a state or within multiple states and identify specific resource concerns or specific conservation investments.”
RCPP has now become a standalone program under the 2018 Farm Bill with its own funding of $300 million annually. Suarez said that the financial support for projects can vary between $250,000 to $10 million “depending on the needs of that project, the resources, and also the funding that other partners can bring to the table.”
Some of the RCPP project partners that were awarded funding in 2019 include American Farmland Trust and the California Rice Commission. More than $5 million in support is being provided for implementing wildlife practices to increase the nesting value of rice lands for wetland-dependent birds in the Central Valley. Another $10 million was authorized for increasing water use efficiency in the San Joaquin Valley.
“It could be a small watershed, it could be a countywide or multi-county, or it could be a specific targeted species or resource concern within a region of the state that the partners would like to address and work in coordination with NRCS,” Suarez noted. “We have multiple partners that have worked with us since its inception in 2014 and we are excited about the opportunities that that will bring in this year and beyond.”
Listen to the interview below.