Over $46 million in federal funds will be awarded to 25 district-led conservation projects through the USDA Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) in 2017, setting a program record for conservation district leadership. The National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) congratulates both the districts selected to lead these 25 projects and those that will play crucial support roles as partners on other RCPP projects in the new year.
Authorized by the 2014 farm bill, RCPP allocates federal dollars to large-scale conservation projects developed and implemented by localized partnerships. USDA pledged a total of $225 million in funding for 2017 (with the private sector contributing up to an additional $500 million) for 88 new RCPP projects to improve water quality and quantity, soil health, and wildlife habitat nationwide.
“Conservation districts are natural RCPP partners,” said NACD President Lee McDaniel. “Districts are professional innovators, experienced collaborators, and natural resource experts that have been working with landowners to put conservation on the ground since the days of the Dust Bowl.”
One of the 2017 RCPP projects led by a district or state association of districts spans three states – Florida, Georgia, and Alabama – and the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin. There, a team of over 30 partners led by the Flint River Soil and Water Conservation District (FRSWCD) will put $3 million in RCPP funds to work developing and implementing climate change adaption solutions.
“Assisting producers and landowners in the implementation of best management practices in these watersheds is critical to the long-term health and resiliency of our shared natural resources,” said FRSWCD Chairman Marty McLendon. “We look forward to working with NRCS and our project partners to implement a strategic project with enduring and impactful outcomes.”
The Claunch-Pinto Soil and Water Conservation District (CPSWCD) in New Mexico will use nearly $1 million in RCPP funds to reduce wildfire risk and improve the soils and hydrology in the state’s north central tributaries and sub-watersheds.
“The Claunch-Pinto SWCD is very proud to collaborate with over 40 federal, state, local, and tribal partners, including 14 soil and water conservation districts, to address the potential for high-severity wildfires through the improvement of our forests, rangelands, and water resources within the Rio Grande Watershed,” said Dierdre Tarr, CPSWCD’s district manager.
In Washington state, the Pierce Conservation District (PCD) and ten diverse partners will invest $8 million in RCPP funds to protect working lands in the Puyallup Watershed with permanent easements and voluntary conservation practices.
“Since 2002, Pierce County has lost over 10,000 acres of farmland – nearly five-times the state average – due to rapidly encroaching development,” said Ryan Mello, executive director of PCD. “We very much look forward to working with our partners on the ground in the Puyallup Watershed to conserve working farms and improve water quality and habitat function through the strategic investment of RCPP.”
In Delaware, the Kent Conservation District (KCD) will use nearly $500,000 in RCPP funds to help new and beginning farmers purchase the composters, freezers, and manure storage facilities they need to properly dispose of waste associated with poultry operations.
“The availability of funding to address manure and mortality management challenges has been quite limited over the past few years,” said Tim Riley, KCD’s district coordinator. “The Kent Conservation District Board of Supervisors and I would like to thank USDA-NRCS for selecting our RCPP proposal. These funds will go a long way to address these resource concerns for new and beginning poultry farmers.”
For more information on district-led, 2017 RCPP projects, click here.