Created under the 2014 Farm Bill, the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) is a new, comprehensive and flexible program that is designed to build strong and diverse partnerships, multiply the federal conservation investment and target conservation goals on a regional or watershed scale.
RCPP empowers local leaders to work with multiple partners-such as private companies, local and tribal governments, universities, non-profit groups and other non-government partners-along with farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners to design solutions that work best for their region.
Local partners and the federal government both invest funding and manpower in projects to maximize their impact. In its first two years, RCPP has energized local-state-federal partnerships and is creating new opportunities for innovation that reap benefits for individuals and entire communities.
RCPP draws on local knowledge and networks to fuel conservation projects. Partners are in the driver’s seat with technical and financial help from USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). State, local and regional partners join with agricultural producers to achieve specific, measurable results such as:
- clean and abundant water resources to provide drinking water for communities, irrigate crops, and provide habitat for wildlife;
- healthy soils that are resilient to drought and are the foundation for the production of food, feed and fiber for the nation and for export; and
- enhanced wildlife habitat to benefit at-risk species such as salmon and sage grouse, and support a diversified rural economy.
Partners may propose RCPP projects in one of three available funding pools: state-level, multistate and national, and critical conservation areas (California Bay Delta, Chesapeake Bay Watershed, Colorado River Basin, Columbia River Basin, Great Lakes Region Longleaf Pine Range, Mississippi River Basin and Prairie Grasslands). Of the total USDA investment available, 25 percent is allocated for state-level projects, 40 percent for multi-state and national projects, and 35 percent for projects in the critical conservation areas.
NRCS is maximizing the program’s reach by calling on partners to match the NRCS requested funding, elevating the agency’s $1.2 billion investment over five years into a $2.4 billion investment. Not only do partners bring funding, but also new partners, technical expertise and local knowledge.
RCPP in FY 2015
In January 2015, USDA delivered more than $370 million to 115 high-impact conservation projects across all 50 states and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. Water quality was the most common project objective; ranging from locally focused efforts to help producers meet water quality regulations to watershed-scale efforts that drive tangible improvement in major water bodies.
Projects that focus on benefiting wildlife and agricultural or forest landscapes accounted for nearly 24 percent of all projects. Examples include projects that will benefit ranching operations and iconic species like the sage grouse to projects that will benefit listed species and preserve agricultural production.
Link to table of RCPP FY 2015 Projects: RCPP FY 2015 Project Table
RCPP in FY 2016
USDA is investing up to $225 million for the second wave of projects. First and second round RCPP projects will deliver an estimated $1 billion in USDA and partner support for critical conservation projects nationwide.
NRCS received 265 pre-proposals from across the country, requesting more than $856 million. If funding was available for all of the proposed projects, the program would have brought together more than 1,900 partners and leveraged more than a $1 billion from partner contributions.
In more than 60 percent of the submitted preprosals, partners identified water resource issues as a primary objective. After reviewing the pre-proposals, NRCS invited 165 groups to submit full proposals by November 10, 2015.
Link to table of RCPP FY 2016 Pre-proposals: RCPP FY 2016 Pre-proposal Table