NACD Welcomes Rollout of USDA Regional Conservation Partnership ProgramTue, 27 May 2014 11:39:40 CDT
The National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) looks forward to supporting the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in the implementation of the new USDA NRCS Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). The result of streamlining conservation programs in the 2014 Farm Bill, the new RCPP program will promote collaborative projects that improve soil quality, water quality/quantity, and wildlife habitat in a specific area.
The eight Critical Conservation Areas (CCAs) are: Great Lakes, the Chesapeake Bay watershed, the Columbia, Colorado and Mississippi river basins, the Longleaf Pine Range, prairie grasslands and the California Bay Delta. Beyond these specific areas, there will be additional delivery opportunities at the state and national levels.
"Conservation districts have always supported a collaborative, locally-led approach to getting conservation implemented on the ground, and this new program falls right in line with this approach," said NACD President Earl Garber. "The concept of partnering to accomplish the delivery of conservation is not new. Soil and Water Conservation Districts were established on the state and local level since the 1930s to partner in the delivery of federal funds based on local priorities. The RCPP program expands our opportunities to reach a higher level of commitment to conservation delivery on the working landscape in America."
The RCPP program will encourage greater investment, leveraging of resources, and participation by the private business sectors, membership organizations, and state and local governments. NACD is encouraged by the accountability built into the RCPP, ensuring that work should be monitored throughout the contract period to accurately document, quantify and account for results.
"With the baseline of conservation program delivery and a large footprint on the landscape, districts can be the catalyst for driving the concept of expanded partnership to deliver regional conservation," Garber continued. "Soil and water conservation districts are valuable partners with a proven ability to work one-on-one with producers and help get conservation put on the ground. Because of their strong local relationships, they can help create valuable connections with other interested parties for potential project collaboration."
NACD has been supportive of the RCPP throughout the Farm Bill process, and encouraged its inclusion in the final bill. In April, NACD joined with a coalition in sending a letter to NRCS Chief Weller outlining recommendations for the program. NACD also provided input on the APF in an April Listening Session with USDA.
"Districts have a strong history of working with producers to initiate and continue the implementation of shovel-ready conservation projects, making them well suited to hit the ground running in this new program," said Garber.
More information on the announcement, including testimonials from NACD members, can be found on the USDA RCPP webpage.
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