09 Jun An Update on the NRCS Regional Conservation Partnership Program Proposal
By: Harold Crose, Resource Conservationist, Grant County Conservation District
The Grant County Conservation District (GCCD) was recently notified that the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) proposal that was submitted last November, including a $10 million request for part of the 79.2 lateral and on-farm buildouts was not funded this round. While this is disappointing, it is not surprising. Only 47% of the proposals were funded, many of which were a continuation of previously funded RCPP projects, and it is rare for first-time RCPP proposals to receive funding.
Feedback on the RCPP proposal indicated two main reasons the 79.2 project wasn’t selected. First, partner contributions were not confirmed at the time of application. Thankfully, legislators were successful in securing substantial funds for the 79.2 during this most recent legislative session. These dollars will fulfill the partner contributions needed for a future, successful RCPP application. Secondly, the NRCS PL-566 process for watershed/public works projects has not been completed, including NRCS's watershed planning and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review that is needed for the OGWRP pump stations and laterals. RCPP applications, like the one submitted for the 79.2, are more competitive following initiation of the PL-566 watershed planning and NEPA analysis process.
In recent conversations with NRCS staff, the PLL-566 process has been clarified, and recommended next steps for pursuing NRCS RCPP and PL-566 funding for the 79.2 and greater OGWRP are clear. PL-566 funding could cover 75% of the project cost, however projects requesting over $25 million will require congressional authorizations. There hasn’t been a PL-566 project in Washington for 15-20 years and certainly not under the current Farm Bill, but the timing is right to change that.
Thanks are extended to the 79.2 landowners and partners—including the Office of the Columbia River and state legislators-- for help in developing the first RCPP proposal. Their leadership and contributions will greatly contribute to the next RCPP proposal this fall. If you have any questions or suggestions, contact Harold Crose at firstname.lastname@example.org.