Thursday, 06 October 2022

NRCS awards four new partnership projects in California

The Natural Resources Conservation Service, or NRCS, announced it is investing $330 million in 85 locally driven, public-private partnerships to address climate change, improve the nation’s water quality, combat drought, enhance soil health, support wildlife habitat and protect agricultural viability, including 4 projects in California.

Projects are awarded through the Regional Conservation Partnership Program, or RCPP.

“The Regional Conservation Partnership Program is public-private partnerships working at their best,” said Carlos Suarez, NRCS State Conservationist in California. “These four new projects will harness the power of partnerships to help bring about solutions to natural resource concerns across California while supporting our efforts to combat the climate crisis.”

Across America, producers are seeing the impacts from climate change. Farmers, landowners and local communities can be a major part of the effort to combat climate change.

Under the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is engaged in an effort to combat the climate crisis and conserve and protect our nation’s lands, biodiversity and natural resources including our soil, air and water.

Through conservation practices and partnerships, including those through RCPP, USDA aims to enhance economic growth and create new streams of income for farmers, ranchers, producers and private foresters.

Successfully meeting these challenges will require USDA and our agencies to pursue a coordinated approach alongside USDA stakeholders, including state, local and Tribal governments.

Through RCPP, conservation partners work in collaboration with NRCS to help farmers, ranchers and forest landowners throughout the nation to implement systems that conserve water and soil resources, improve the health of wildlife habitats and increase climate resilience.

RCPP partners offer value-added contributions to amplify the impact of RCPP funding. These projects offer impactful and measurable outcomes. Throughout its history, RCPP has leveraged partner contributions of more than $1 for every $1 invested by USDA, resulting in nearly $3 billion collectively invested in natural resource conservation on private lands. NRCS anticipates the investments made today will generate at least $440 million in additional conservation funds by communities and other partners.

California 2021 RCPP projects include:

· The Mission Resource Conservation District and seven partners will offer technical and financial assistance to producers to improve soil health, irrigation water use efficiency and address soil erosion to reduce non-point source pollution loads on waters of the state. The project builds on a prior RCPP project and will continue to help producers increase the climate resiliency of their operations. Water quality and soil health outcomes will be modeled while water availability outcomes will be measured. Partner contributions from six San Diego-area water utilities will both complement RCPP financial assistance funding and be used to provide technical assistance to producers.

· The Rebuild North Bay Foundation and 14 partners will reduce fuel loads, improve forest and rangeland health, prevent soil erosion and help wildfire damaged areas recover by engaging the participation of landowners and producers in seven fire-prone counties in Northern California, including Colusa, Lake, Mendocino, Napa, Solano, Sonoma, and Yolo counties. Partner contributions from local Resource Conservation Districts will provide technical assistance to landowners. RCPP flexibilities will allow project partners to engage with new landowners and producers with flexible incentives and a coordinated approach.

· Siskiyou Land Trust will use RCPP conservation easements to address drought impacts of climate change on water quality and endangered coho salmon habitat in the tributary watersheds of two of California’s most important rivers, the Klamath and the Sacramento. The project will improve habitat conditions for salmon that are a culturally important food source for regional tribes while protecting working ranches in an economically struggling region.

· California State University will support California’s Healthy Soils Initiative to help orchard/vineyard, rangeland, dairy and row crop producers implement Soil Health Management Systems. The project leverages contributions from 13 partners to improve soil function, water infiltration and availability and protect biodiverse habitats in Northern California agro-ecosystems. In addition, the project integrates carbon farm planning activities and will report on economic and social outcomes, in addition to conservation outcomes.

See the interactive map of all awarded RCPP projects here. There are currently 336 active RCPP projects that have engaged more than 2,000 partners. For more information, visit the RCPP website.

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