Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that 100 high-impact projects across all 50 states, including Wisconsin, will receive more than $370 million as part of the new Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP).
RCPP’s historic focus on public-private partnership enables private companies, local communities and other non-government partners a way to invest in efforts to keep our land resilient and water clean, and promote tremendous economic growth in agriculture, construction, tourism and outdoor recreation, and other industries.
“Partners are seeing the value of conservation and investing in their future,” Vilsack said. “These partnerships are forging a new path for getting conservation on the ground and are providing opportunities for communities to have a voice and ownership in protecting and improving our natural resources. The Regional Conservation Partnership Program ushers in a new era of conservation, and we’re excited about the down-the-road benefits from this new Farm Bill program.”
This year’s projects will engage hundreds of partners with wide-ranging interests, including communities, conservation districts, agribusiness, non-government organizations, for-profit and non-profit organizations, state and federal agencies and Tribal governments. In addition to USDA funds, partners’ will contribute an estimated $400 million, more than doubling USDA’s investment.
“RCPP puts our partners in the driver’s seat,” said Jimmy Bramblett, USDA’S Natural Resources Conservation Service State Conservationist in Wisconsin. “Projects are led locally, and demonstrate the value of strong public-private partnerships that deliver solutions to tough natural resource challenges.”
The projects approved for funding in Wisconsin include the following conservation partners: Dane County Land & Water Resources Department, American Bird Conservancy, City of Oconomowoc, and the Sauk County Conservation, Planning & Zoning Department. NRCS along with these and other partners will collaborate to provide technical and financial assistance to agricultural producers and forest landowners to help implement conservation practices that improve soil health, water quality, restore wildlife habitat, and will also improve agricultural productivity. The projects will run between 4 to 5 years in duration and will provide over $13 million in public-private conservation investments to the state.
More than 600 pre-proposals were submitted nationally for RCPP in 2014. Of those, more than 200 were invited to submit full proposals. “With so many strong project proposals, the project selection process was extremely competitive.
RCPP is a 5-year $1.2 billion USDA commitment; projects not selected in this first year may be eligible in subsequent years,” Bramblett said.
The next announcement of program funding for fiscal year 2016 will be made later in the year. The funding level is anticipated to be around $200 million.