Unlock Your Conservation Potential with 2023 RCPP Funding
USDA is pleased to announce the availability of $500 million in funding through the 2023 Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). This funding opportunity aims to foster collaboration among public and private entities to address pressing natural resource concerns. With a focus on water quality and quantity, soil health, habitat conservation, and climate resilience, the 2023 RCPP presents an exceptional chance for organizations to secure financial resources and unlock their conservation potential.
What is the purpose of the Regional Conservation Partnership Program?
The Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) is a groundbreaking initiative administered by the United States Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). Its primary purpose is to encourage collaboration among public and private entities to address natural resource concerns. By leveraging shared resources, knowledge, and expertise, RCPP empowers communities to implement innovative, sustainable, and scalable conservation solutions.
What is the funding and duration of RCPP?
The funding available under RCPP is substantial, ranging from $250,000 to $25 million, providing financial resources through both the classic RCPP and alternative funding arrangements (AFA), a more flexible type of RCPP grant, as detailed in the Notice of Funding Opportunity. RCPP funds awarded at the time the agreement is executed are committed by NRCS for 5 years; Partners may request an agreement term of longer than 5 years when it is necessary to meet the objectives of the program, as outlined in the Notice of Funding Opportunity.
What entities are eligible to apply?
RCPP encourages the participation of a wide range of entities, including:
- Agricultural or silvicultural producer associations or groups of producers;
- State or local governments;
- Indian Tribes;
- Farmer cooperatives;
- Water districts, irrigation districts, or other organizations with specific water delivery authority to agricultural producers;
- Municipal water or wastewater treatment entities;
- Institutions of higher education;
- Organizations, businesses or entities with an established history of working cooperatively with producers, as determined by NRCS, to address:
- Local conservation priorities related to agricultural production, wildlife habitat development, or nonindustrial private forest land management; or
- Critical watershed-scale soil erosion, water quality, sediment reduction, or other natural resource issues;
- Entities, such as an Indian Tribe, state government, local government, or a non-governmental organization, that have a farmland or grassland protection program that purchases agricultural land easements; and
- Conservation districts.
Proposals will be accepted for projects in all 50 states, the Caribbean area (Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands), and U.S. territories in the Pacific Island Areas (Guam, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands).
Eligible entities are encouraged to form partnerships with other stakeholders to develop comprehensive and impactful conservation projects.
What projects are eligible for funding?
There are two types of projects eligible for funding: 1) Classic RCPP grants and 2) RCPP Alternative Funding Arrangements (AFA) grants, as detailed below.
Classic RCPP grants are eligible to fund a wide range of conservation projects, including projects that improve and focus on:
- Water quality;
- Soil health;
- Air quality;
- Wildlife habitat;
- Watershed management;
- Climate-smart agriculture; or
- Education and outreach.
AFAs are a more flexible type of RCPP grant, intended to support projects that cannot be carried out effectively through the classic RCPP. AFAs are subject to fewer requirements and partners have more flexibility in how they use grant funds.
The following are examples of project types that might be implemented through RCPP AFA, including projects that:
- Use innovative approaches to leverage the Federal investment in conservation;
- Address complex conservation challenges;
- Involve multiple stakeholders;
- Deploy a pay-for-performance conservation approach, and
- Seek large-scale infrastructure investments that generate conservation benefits for agricultural producers and nonindustrial private forest owners.
NRCS will prioritize projects that implement climate-smart agriculture conservation activities that result in improving soil carbon, reducing nitrogen losses, or reducing, capturing, avoiding, or sequestering GHG emissions.
What are the two funding categories for this grant?
The RCPP funding provided by NRCS is divided into two categories: Financial Assistance (FA) and Technical Assistance (TA). Applicants may request NRCS funding for up to 25 percent of TA activities. The remainder of the proposed budget will be used for FA to implement eligible conservation activities.
Financial Assistance (FA) is delivered through eligible program activities. Project proposals must explicitly request funding for at least one of the following RCPP eligible activity types including:
- Land management
- Land rental
- Easements held by entities
- Easements held by the United States (for RCPP Classic only)
- Public works and watersheds
Technical Assistance (TA): TA expenses include activities such as conservation planning, implementation, quality assurance, project management, outreach, and coordination. The NRCS state conservationist will work with the lead partner to refine proposal budgets for TA, which could include allocating TA funding to partners that have the capacity and capability to perform the work according to NRCS planning and practice standards. TA funds can also be earned by partners for project-level activities, which include project management, outcomes assessment, and the other activities listed in this section.
For RCPP Classic projects, FA is typically provided through producer and parcel contracts between NRCS and producers or landowners. RCPP Classic FA funds are held by NRCS and typically the producer or landowner is paid directly by NRCS; however, NRCS generally provides FA as cost-share assistance to an eligible entity to support the eligible entity’s purchase of an entity-held easement from an eligible landowner. For AFA projects, funding assistance is provided to partners in advance or on a reimbursement basis as appropriate.
What is the timeline for RCPP?
Grant applications are due August 18, 2023. The RCPP timeline typically consists of several stages, including pre-proposal submission, partnership agreement development, and full proposal submission.
The full Notice of Funding Opportunity can be found here.
For more information on this program or how to apply with Morrison’s assistance, please contact the Morrison Grants Team by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 530-893-4764.