On May 4,the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced an investment of up to $235 million to improve the nation’s water quality, combat drought, enhance soil health, support wildlife habitat, and protect agricultural viability.  The funding is provided through the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP), the newest conservation tool of the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

USDA is accepting proposals for RCPP until July 8.

RCPP, created by the 2014 Farm Bill, empowers local leaders to work with multiple partners — such as private companies, local and tribal governments, universities, nonprofit organizations, 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 to projects to maximize their impact.

This will be the second round of projects funded through RCPP. The RCPP program helps USDA build on what is already a record enrollment in conservation programs, with over 500,000 producers participating to protect land and water on more than 162 million ha (400 million ac) nationwide.

In January, USDA delivered the first round of funding, awarding $394 million to 115 high-impact projects across all 50 states and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

One of these projects, “The Tri-State Western Lake Erie Basin Phosphorous Reduction Initiative,” brings together more than 40 partnering organizations from Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana to reduce phosphorus-laden runoff to waterways in the western basin of Lake Erie. This project will target funding to streams and rivers with the largest effect on water quality in the lake.

Check it Out The Water Environment Federation has joined more than 130 organizations in writing a letter to Congress opposing the reopening of the 2014 Farm Bill in order to protect the bill’s conservation-program funding.

Additionally, on April 28, the Intermountain West Joint Venture released a guide to implementing Farm Bill conservation programs. Read more.

RCPP infographic by USDA

RCPP infographic by USDA