|Critical Conservation Areas|
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According to the NRCS RCPP web site, the Program will combine the purposes and functions of four former regional conservation programs – the Agricultural Water Enhancement Program, the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Program, the Cooperative Conservation Partnership Initiative and the Great Lakes Basin Program." NRCS will allocate RCPP funds across three different categories: 25% to projects selected through a state competitive process administered by State Technical Committees; 40% for projects based on a national competitive process; and 35% for projects in the designated Critical Conservation Areas.
Lands eligible for RCPP projects can include cropland, grassland, rangeland, pastureland, nonindustrial forest land, and other land "incidental to agricultural production" (such as wetlands and buffers). Eligible conservation activities envisioned for the Program include:
- Water quality restoration or enhancement, including nutrient management and sediment reduction;
- Water quality conservation, restoration or enhancement relating to surface water and groundwater resources;
- Drought mitigation;
- Flood prevention;
- Water retention;
- Air quality improvement;
- Habitat conservation, restoration and enhancement;
- Erosion control and sediment reduction;
- Forest restoration; and
- Easement acquisition activities associated with wetland restoration and protection, or the preservation of working agricultural lands.
- Deliver high percentages of applied conservation to address conservation priorities or local, State, regional, or national conservation initiatives;
- Significantly leverage non-Federal financial and technical resources and coordinate with other local, State, regional, or national efforts;
- Provide innovation in conservation methods and delivery; and
- Assist producers in meeting or avoiding the need for a natural resource regulatory requirement.
- With significant agricultural production;
- Benefiting from water quality or quantity improvement, and
- Containing landowners and producers that need to meet or avoid negatively impacting agricultural regulations.