Richmond, March 15, 2016 – USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is now seeking to invest up to $263 million in partner-led projects offering creative solutions for protecting/improving water quality, soil health, wildlife habitat, and agricultural viability. The funding is being offered through the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP), which leverages local, state, and federal resources to deliver the most conservation for the taxpayer dollar.

Local, state, and tribal governments, universities, non-profit groups and other non-government partners can work with farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners to create new opportunities for conservation. RCPP investments of nearly $600 million have already driven 199 partner-led projects, including five in Virginia. Pre-proposals must be submitted by May 10 to be considered for FY17 funding.

“RCPP empowers local communities and landowners to take control to develop conservation solutions that work best for their region,” says State Conservationist Jack Bricker. “With partners and the federal government investing funding and manpower, these public-private partnerships can have an impact well beyond what the federal government could accomplish on its own.”
In this third round of applications, NRCS will again award 25 percent of the funding for state-level projects, 40 percent for multi-state and national projects, and 35 percent for projects in eight 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 Region. NRCS is seeking to leverage funds to double the federal conservation investment with partner contributions.

Virginia partners are already participating in two Critical Conservation Area projects benefitting the Chesapeake Bay. Another multi-state project to improve water quality and fish and wildlife habitat in the Upper Clinch-Powell River watersheds is among 84 high-impact projects announced in February. NRCS has also invested more than $2 million in state level RCPP projects to promote adoption of forestry practices statewide and help control nonnative, invasive plants in a 10-county region.

Created in the 2014 Farm Bill, the RCPP program helps USDA build on already-record enrollment in conservation programs, with more than 500,000 producers participating to protect land and water on over 400 million acres nationwide. View the announcement on the grants.gov website. For more information on applying, visit the national NRCS RCPP web page.

For more information, contact Rex Rexrode at 540-825-4200 ext. 101.