A California conservation project is receiving significant funding support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conversation Service (NRCS). The project is being supported by the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) Alternative Funding Arrangements (AFA). State Conservationist Carlos Suarez said the program goes a long way in helping to facilitate projects, providing more ownership for project partners to make improvements to conservation efforts.
“Through these projects, partners are able to take the lead and leverage the flexibilities that make RCPP so effective,” Suarez said in a news release. “Partners are delivering conservation in new and innovative ways, and by working together, we can harness our collective resources to produce greater results for conservation and agriculture.”
The California conservation project is being spearheaded by the Sonoma Agricultural and Open Space District and is being supported by other partners. The project, ‘Innovative Conservation: Vital Streams and Forests’ is designed to address several issues. The central focus of the project will be the development of riparian corridor conservation easements and source water protection forestland easements. The easements will provide a multitude of benefits including the preservation of agricultural lands and helping to reduce certain regulatory burdens. The easements will also help to restore riparian and forest ecosystems, along with providing improved habitat for several at-risk, threatened, and endangered species.
Project partners are able to manage and administer an RCPP project with other participating stakeholders. Including the support for the California conservation project, NRCS is investing a total of $50 million across 16 states for the support of ten projects. Other partners will also be contributing more than $65 million to help expand the amount of financial support the projects receive. The 2018 Farm Bill expanded authorization for NRCS to award up to 15 AFA projects a year. The AFA’s allow project partners to work with farmers, ranchers, and other landowners in carrying out RCPP projects.