05-18-20 USDA Invests More Than $2.2M in Partner-Driven Projects that Protect Natural Resources in Colorado

USDA Invests More Than $2.2M in Partner-Driven Projects that Protect Natural Resources in Colorado

DENVER, CO, May 18, 2020 – USDA’s Natural Resources Service (NRCS) recently announced that it is investing over $2.27 million in Colorado for a partner-driven conservation project (partner-driven conservation projects) through its Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). NRCS will leverage nearly $2.9 million in partner contributions in Colorado.

RCPP uses a partner-driven approach to fund innovative solutions to natural resource challenges. Through RCPP, NRCS and partners work together with private landowners and producers to implement a variety of conservation activities, including land management practices and systems, short-term land rentals, conservation easements and watershed structures. The mix of conservation activities carried out under each project is dependent on a project’s goals, objectives and conservation benefits.

These projects offer impactful and measurable outcomes. They will support diverse agricultural and natural resource objectives, from helping farmers and ranchers improve water quality, soil health and drought resiliency to protecting drinking water supplies and enhancing wildlife habitat.

Colorado’s projects include:

Montezuma County Phreatophyte Project, Montezuma County, CCA, Colorado River Basin NRCS FA $324,675, Partner contribution $324,940 –

  • Montezuma County plans to work with landowners to treat lands and waterways negatively impacted by Russian olive and Salt cedar. These invasive species consume tremendous amounts of precious water in this drought-stricken landscape. Partners will also consult with landowners on how best to restore native vegetation to prevent recurrence of the invasives.

The Acequia Conservation Initiative – Phase II Colorado Open Lands State/Multi State N/A CO NRCS FA $1,948,052, partner contribution, $2,533,000

  • Colorado Open Lands plans to strategically protect properties irrigated by historic acequias in the Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area, a region recognized for its unique cultural history and outstanding scenic, agricultural and wildlife resources. The diverse partnership aims to protect almost 3,000 acres of farm and ranch lands using conservation easements, targeting the many Historically Underserved producers in the area. Additional land management activities undertaken by producers will improve land stewardship in the area.

Nationally, NRCS is investing $206 million for 48 partner-driven conservation projects across 29 states, while leveraging nearly $300 million in partner contributions.

Though RCPP was first authorized in the 2014 Farm Bill, the 2018 Farm Bill made changes to strengthen the program and simplify its rules. RCPP is now a stand-alone program with $300 million annually available for partner-driven projects. In addition to the general RCPP projects announced today, NRCS has already awarded more than $50 million for 18 renewals of 2014 Farm Bill projects. A separate RCPP Alternative Funding Arrangements (AFA) funding announcement is currently open until May 18.

Since 2015, RCPP has combined $1 billion in NRCS investments with close to $2 billion in partner dollars to implement conservation practices nationwide. There are currently 341 active RCPP projects and close to 2,000 RCPP partners. Read more about the Regional Conservation Partnership Program.

For more information about NRCS in Colorado, it’s programs and opportunities, please visit http://www.co.nrcs.usda.gov