First projects selected for new USDA program
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced that 115 high-impact projects across all 50 states and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, including Nevada, will receive more than $370 million in federal funding as part of the new Regional Conservation Partnership Program.
According to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, these projects will leverage an estimated $400 million in partner contributions to improve the nation’s water quality, support wildlife habitat and enhance the environment.
“This is an entirely new approach to conservation efforts,” Vilsack said. “These partnerships empower communities to set priorities and lead the way on conservation efforts important for their region. They also encourage private sector investment so we can make an impact that’s well beyond what the Federal government could accomplish on its own. We’re giving private companies, local communities, and other non-government partners a way to invest in a new era in conservation that ultimately benefits us all. These efforts keep our land resilient and water clean, and promote economic growth in agriculture, construction, tourism, outdoor recreation, and other industries.”
This year’s project at the Duck Valley Indian Reservation in Nevada and Idaho, for example, will accomplish a wide diversity of agricultural and natural resource goals, including upgrading irrigation systems, removing livestock from riparian areas and restoring stream banks.
RCPP competitively awards funds to conservation projects designed by local partners specifically for their region. Eligible partners include private companies, universities, non-profit organizations, local and tribal governments and others joining with agricultural and conservation organizations and producers to invest money, manpower and materials to their proposed initiatives. With participating partners investing along with the Department, USDA’s $1.2 billion in funding over the life of the five-year program can leverage an additional $1.2 billion from partners for a total of $2.4 billion for conservation.
“RCPP puts our partners in the driver’s seat,” said Bruce Petersen, USDA’S Natural Resources Conservation Service state conservationist in Nevada. “Projects are led locally and demonstrate the value of strong public-private partnerships that deliver solutions to tough natural resource challenges.”
More than 600 pre-proposals were submitted for RCPP in 2014.
“With so many strong project proposals, the project selection process was extremely competitive,” Petersen said. “RCPP is a five-year, $1.2 billion USDA commitment; projects not selected in this first year may be eligible in subsequent years.”
For information on Nevada RCPP projects, visit NRCS Nevada’s webpage or view the full list of projects.
To learn about technical and financial assistance available through conservation programs, visit http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/GetStarted or the local USDA service center.