NRCS Announces FY ’17 Funding for Regional Conservation Partnership Program Projects
December 22, 2016
By Kira Jacobs, US EPA Region 1
USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has announced its funding for the FY 2017 Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) projects. This year, $225 million will be invested nationwide!
This is the third round of projects being funded for the RCPP. The RCPP provides conservation assistance to producers and landowners for the purpose of improving the nation’s water quality (including drinking water sources), combating drought, enhancing soil health, supporting wildlife habitat, and protecting agricultural viability. Partners must provide matching funds or in-kind contributions, and may include state government agencies (including drinking water programs), water utilities, NGOs, and universities.
In the spirit of collaborating with other partners, I encourage you to read through the list of FY 2017 RCPP projects by state. Some of them indicate an obvious connection to source water protection (such as projects on the list in Colorado, Minnesota, North Carolina, and West Virginia). In other cases, the nexus with source water protection is more subtle. I encourage you to “dig a little deeper” if you see a project in your state that is located in a source water protection area where you are currently working or would like to work. The purpose of these projects is to encourage collaboration and leverage the expertise of numerous partners. NRCS offices in each state can assist you in identifying and reaching out to the partners if you are unable to find information online. Also, the NRCS website includes projects awarded for the past several years (the program began in 2015). Since most programs are multi-year, you may want to refer to the past years’ projects as well.
An example of an ongoing RCPP project where source water protection is a key component of the project is the Connecticut River/Long Island Sound RCPP. This 2015 RCPP project brings together dozens of partners in six states. Source water protection is a stated priority for this project, even though the Connecticut River is not a drinking water source! When the project was conceived, the Connecticut Association of Conservation Districts decided to include source water protection in one of its three focus areas for the project, Land Protection. It was determined that, because this vast watershed is home to so many large municipal drinking water supplies, it is important to protect their sources. As a result, $3.25 million is being directed to land protection in priority source water protection and critical habitat areas. To learn more about this project, please refer to the project website: http://www.lisw-rcpp.com/