OMAHA (DTN) -- USDA rolled out funding Wednesday for 88 cooperative conservation projects around the country that will split $225 million as part of the Regional Conservation Partnership Program.
The Regional Conservation Partnership Program was created in the 2014 farm bill as a way to use both local, state and private funds to leverage USDA conservation dollars. USDA stated that with the funding release Wednesday, the program has invested $825 million federal dollars for 286 projects across the country with more than 2,000 partners committing an estimated $1.4 billion in either financial or technical assistance as well.
"RCPP plays a critical role in connecting partners with producers to design and implement conservation solutions that benefit both natural resources and agriculture," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in a news release. "The Farm Bill is the largest source of federal funding for private lands conservation, and RCPP is contributing innovative conservation solutions to communities across the country."
Water quality or drought are the major themes for 46 of the projects while improving fish and wildlife habitat is also a theme for roughly one-quarter of the projects.
In California, $10 million in funding will go to deal with flood control in and around Merced County, California, to help protect agricultural land and the surrounding communities. USDA stated other partners will triple the funding used to complete the project.
Another project in California and Nevada will invest $8 million in USDA funds to work with ranchers and protect the habitat for sage grouse.
In Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana and Missouri, the USA Rice Federation is leading a $7 million project to help work on groundwater issues, water quality and wildlife habitat in the Lower Mississippi River valley region. The rice federation is working with Ducks Unlimited and more than 20 other groups on the project.
The Rice Federation also is working as part of the Lower Colorado River Authority in Texas, which was awarded $8 million to help build a reservoir for irrigation, flood control and bird habitat. That project also will include signing up area rice farmers through Conservation Stewardship Program contracts as well.
In North Carolina, $7 million will be used to help restore streams and wetlands in the west end of the state though incentive programs for farmers and other landowners. The main goal of the project is to reduce non-point source pollution from entering the area streams.
Ducks Unlimited also will be working in the prairie pothole region with more than 20 other groups to improve water quality in the Missouri and Mississippi River watersheds with just over $4.1 million in USDA funds.
A full list of the projects can be found at https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/…
Chris Clayton can be reached at Chris.Clayton@dtn.com
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