RCPP funding of $197 million has been allocated

Grassland conservation and restoration projects are among the biggest beneficiaries of $197 million in grants awarded Friday under the Regional Conservation Partnership Program, which uses contributions from nongovernmental organizations and state and local governments to maximize funding for each project.

Four different grassland projects will share $19.2 million in RCPP funding, which will be matched by $19.4 million in partnership contributions. says the message of the Natural Resources Protection Service. in general 41 projects are financed.

The largest of the grants, $10 million, will go to a project to restore and preserve grasslands in the southern High Plains. RCPP funding will be used to place conservation easements on more than 40,000 acres. The Nature Conservancy, which manages the project, and more than ten other partners “spent years developing the Grassland Strongholds strategy, designed to create large areas of protected and preserved grassland within the Prairie Grasslands [Critical Conservation Area],” one of eight areas so designated under the RCPP program.

Another grassland project, called Life from the Soil, aims to “improve the ecological function of more than 500,000 acres of grasslands in Montana, Nebraska and South Dakota by 2027,” NRCS said. “Participating ranchers will enroll in the World Wildlife Fund’s Ranch Systems and Viability Planning Network (which already has less than 420,000 acres registered in the northern Great Plains), which creates a support system for ranchers interested in improving the environment and increasing the financial sustainability of their operations. .

Participating ranchers agree not to convert their pastures for ten years and to develop and implement a written grazing management plan, among other requirements. The project received almost $2.86 million.

In Texas, $3.3 million will go toward preserving grasslands in 30 counties in the central part of the state. The project “will help producers incorporate proven grassland management practices into their operations to increase plant diversity and carbon sequestration, and reverse losses of grassland birds caused by habitat degradation.” The goal is to “operate on 54,000 acres, contacting more than 4,000 growers to recruit project participants; training on grazing management, monitoring and other topics; and participating in environmental monitoring on ranches,” NRCS said.

The Great Plains Grassland Restoration Project will receive about $3 million. Lead partners Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever are working to “build on the growing momentum within the broader Great Plains Grasslands Initiative to restore and enhance critical grassland habitats in the Flint Hills, Red Hills and Smoky Hills regions of Kansas.

Other projects focus on growing switchgrass on 5,000 acres in Iowa to reduce soil erosion, improve water quality and increase farmer incomes, and in Iowa to plant 200,000 acres of precision agriculture cover crops to help ranchers “make their operations more sustainable.” and improve compliance outcomes.”

In California, NRCS is providing $1.7 million for farmer-to-farmer collaborations to increase “the ability of California’s farmland to provide habitat, forage, and other support for wild and managed pollinators, including bees, butterflies, and other important invertebrate species. A broad partnership, including the California Almond Council, Bayer Crop Science and the California Farm Bureau, plans to use grower connections to ensure grower participation in a broad 10-county project area.”

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In Pennsylvania, where nutrient runoff impacts the Chesapeake Bay, the Farmland Conservation and Climate Change Mitigation Project “will use state and county investments in farmland conservation to complement the use of RCPP funds to implement climate-smart practices and systems on Pennsylvania farms. … Soil health practices and systems, as well as helping growers transition to organic production, will be the focus of the land management element of the project.” The award is $7.85 million, with partners contributing $12.8 million.

Another Pennsylvania project is receiving nearly $10 million to enable more than 30 producers in six central Pennsylvania counties to implement “conservation practices and systems to help address water quality and wildlife habitat issues for 18 streams listed as impaired under the Clean Water Act.” The Chesapeake Conservancy is the lead partner on the project, with more than a dozen partners contributing $11.5 million.

NRCS said the projects are funded using two different RCPP funding opportunities: the Classic RCPP and the RCPP Alternative Funding (AFA). Classic projects “are implemented using NRCS contracts and easements with producers, landowners and communities in collaboration with project partners. Through RCPP AFA, partners have greater flexibility to work directly with agricultural producers to support the development of new conservation frameworks and approaches that would not otherwise be available under RCPP Classic.”

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