The Rhode Island State Conservation Committee (RISCC) has received an investment of $2,442,569 from USDA’s Natural Resources Service (NRCS) in Rhode Island for partner-driven conservation projects through its Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). The projects aim to reduce stormwater pollutants entering surface water and improve water quality throughout the state. ““I’m excited to announce that the Rhode Island State Conservation Committee’s stormwater reduction projects are among the first RCPP awards under the 2018 Farm Bill,” said R. Phou Vongkhamdy, NRCS State Conservationist in Rhode Island.
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.
Rhode Island is a complex state with varying conservation challenges in coastal, inland, and agricultural focused watersheds. These projects will implement innovative natural systems-based conservation practices in three separate watersheds across the state and have a direct impact on aquatic habitat and water quality. They will be implemented by the Northern RI Conservation District, the Southern RI Conservation District and the Eastern RI Conservation District. In addition, these projects will inform the community of producers and landowners on the use and effectiveness of natural systems-based conservation practices to address water quality challenges.
“Through collaboration and aligning our resources toward a common goal, we’re making an impact for natural resource conservation that could never have been realized on our own,” said Sara Churgin, Project Coordinator of the RISCC.
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. By leveraging collective resources and collaborating on common goals, RCPP demonstrates the power of public-private partnerships in delivering results for agriculture and conservation.
Over the past five years, the RISCC has been awarded funding for three other statewide RCPPs for Soil Health Management, Farm Conservation Planning, and Farm Conservation Implementation. 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.
Projects will impact areas such as:
Southern RI Conservation District – Example project focus area: Winnapaug Pond, Westerly, RI. (Photo credit: RI Salt Ponds Coalition)
Northern RI Conservation District – Example project focus area: Scituate Reservoir Watershed, Scituate, RI
Eastern RI Conservation District – Example project focus area: Maidford River Watershed, Middletown, RI