This is an example of government at its best-streamlining multiple programs into one more effective effort, providing flexible tools, and connecting local citizens and organizations with resources that best address their priorities, protect and improve their quality of life, and propel economic growth.
In addition to supporting local conservation goals, clean land and water investments create jobs in local communities. Conservation work involves building and maintaining infrastructure-building terraces in fields or restoring wetlands, which requires the hiring of contractors, engineers, scientists, and others. A 2013 study commissioned by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation estimates that last year, conservation activities supported more than 660,000 jobs.
Conservation also provides an economic boost by spurring local tourism. Cleaner water and enhanced wildlife habitat provide additional opportunities for hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation. The outdoor recreation economy supports 6.1 million direct jobs, $80 billion in federal, state, and local tax revenue, and $646 billion in spending each year.
The RCPP has three funding pools:
35 percent of total program funding directed to critical conservation areas, chosen by the agriculture secretary;
40 percent directed to regional or multi-state projects through a national competitive process; and
25 percent directed to state-level projects through a competitive process established by NRCS state leaders.
The critical conservation areas Secretary Vilsack announced today are: the Great Lakes Region, Chesapeake Bay Watershed, Mississippi River Basin, Longleaf Pine Range, Columbia River Basin, California Bay Delta, Prairie Grasslands, and the Colorado River Basin.
USDA is now accepting proposals for this program. Pre-proposals are due July 14, and full proposals are due September 26. For more information on applying, read the announcement for program funding.
To learn about technical and financial assistance available through conservation programs, visit www.nrcs.usda.gov/GetStarted or local USDA service center. For more on the 2014 Farm Bill, visit www.nrcs.usda.gov/FarmBill.