On April 16, the US Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) announced $206 million in annual awards for the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP).
RCPP is a Farm Bill conservation program that allows NRCS to co-invest in conservation projects with non-federal qualifying partners (i.e., non-profit conservation groups, conservation districts, and other state and local agencies). In this capacity, RCPP is a voluntary program that combines federal and non-federal funding to enhance conservation activities on private lands to meet regionally specific challenges.
Originally introduced in the 2014 Farm Bill, RCPP utilized funding from several other conservation programs to allow NRCS and qualifying partners to combine funding opportunities to meet state or regionally-specific conservation priorities. To accomplish this, RCPP funding is divided equally among two funding pools, state/multi-state projects and projects tailored to one of eight Critical Conservation Areas. In the 2018 Farm Bill, RCPP was separated into a standalone program funded at $300 million per year. Partner organizations selected for RCPP federal funding take the lead on-the-ground with the ability to utilize several conservation activities to address resource conservation objectives. These activities can include land management, improvement, or restoration practices, land rentals, easements, and watershed projects.
The $206 million awarded by NRCS in Fiscal Year 2020 will be used to fund 48 conservation projects across 29 states. NRCS will also be leveraging nearly $300 million in additional funds from partner contributions. Conservation projects funded through the program will address regional conservation needs ranging from water quality improvement to soil health and drought resiliency. Sportsmen and women will be particularly interested in projects designed to address wildlife habitat needs, including those funded by Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) Mission Partners like Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever.
During the 2018 Farm Bill negotiations, programs that address wildlife habitat conservation priorities, including RCPP, were a top priority for the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation. CSF appreciates the work of NRCS and partnering organizations who work diligently to increase and improve the availability of quality habitat for the game and other species on private lands. For more information on RCPP, visit NRCS’s website here.
Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?