DETROIT, Mich. – Oct. 17, 2017 – Today United States Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Joni Ernst (R-IA) introduced the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) Improvement Act.
Created during the drafting of the 2014 Farm Bill, RCPP is an instrumental tool in private lands conservation, especially for wetlands habitat for migratory waterfowl. RCPP provides new opportunities for partnerships between conservation and agriculture producers. Building on the foundation for RCPP, this bill provides increased funding for the program, encourages diverse and innovative partnerships and supports conservation.
“This initiative is one of the largest commitments ever made to protecting our land and water and is one of the biggest Farm Bill success stories in Michigan,” said Stabenow. “Businesses, non-profits and conservation leaders are working alongside farmers at the local level to improve water quality in our Great Lakes and create new habitats for hunting and fishing. This new bill incorporates ideas we’ve heard from current participants to pave the way for even more innovative conservation work.”
Helping to lessen the federal burden and red tape associated with RCPP, this legislation clarifies that the program would operate as an independent conservation program of the United States Department of Agriculture. This provides more flexibility for the program to be fully implemented around the country. The bill allows for partners of RCPP projects to provide in-kind donations for the matching portion and clarifies that partner matches provided before a partnership agreement was formalized would still qualify as match under program rules.
“Ducks Unlimited has conserved more than 14 million wetland acres across North America, and that includes more than 80,000 acres protected, restored or enhanced here in Michigan,” said Dale Borske, Ducks Unlimited Michigan state chair. “The Regional Conservation Partnership Program is an important tool for us to achieve our habitat conservation goals. Every Ducks Unlimited project is a partnership and RCPP is vital to open the doors with agriculture partners to improve soil health, water quality and habitat. We would especially like to thank Senator Stabenow for her leadership of this vital program.”
By the end of the 2014 Farm Bill, the Natural Resources Conservation Service and partners will have invested more than $2.4 billion in more than 300 RCPP projects around the country. Currently, more than 2,000 partners have engaged in locally-led conservation projects through RCPP. Partners include universities, local water districts and non-profit organizations like Ducks Unlimited. The current Farm Bill is set to expire in September 2018.
Ducks Unlimited Inc. is the world's largest nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving North America's continually disappearing waterfowl habitats. Established in 1937, Ducks Unlimited has conserved more than 14 million acres thanks to contributions from more than a million supporters across the continent. Guided by science and dedicated to program efficiency, DU works toward the vision of wetlands sufficient to fill the skies with waterfowl today, tomorrow and forever. For more information on our work, visit www.ducks.org.
Tucker Clare Nelson