Regional Conservation Partnership Program
Tri-State Effort for Phosphorus Reduction
INDIANA OHIO MICHIGAN
Perrysburg, Ohio – Announced in January, this Regional Conservation Partnership Program project provides $17.5 million in Federal funding from USDA to help protect water quality in the western basin of Lake Erie. The 5-year RCPP Program agreement was signed on May 1st and is now ready to provide funding to farmers to help install a variety of best management practices that will keep nutrients on fields and improve water quality.
Officially, the program sign-up period for Ohio, Michigan, and Indiana farmers in the watershed begins this Wednesday, July 1st and runs through July 17th. Farmers will be able to sign up at their local USDA Service Center. Informational brochures will be distributed to raise awareness of this important multiyear project and encourage farmers and landowners to participate in the new conservation program. This multi-state project includes more than 40 collaborating public and private sector organizations with representation from Michigan, Indiana and Ohio state and local governments, as well as non-profit entities, universities and private sector businesses. These organizations have committed resources to leverage $17.5 million in federal funds by contributing over $28 million to the programs for the reduction of phosphorus and sediment to improve water quality in western Lake Erie.
Project partners recommended NRCS conservation practices and innovative demonstration practices that farmers can apply for through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP). The financial and technical assistance available through these programs support conservation practices that protect soil health, water quality and quantity, and prevent fish and wildlife habitat degradation. Nutrient management practices such as Cover Crops, Drainage Water Management Structures, blind tile inlets, placement of phosphorus below the soil surface using variable rate technology (VRT), and animal waste management are the primary conservation focus available through these programs.
The targeted approach focuses efforts on the 855,000 acres that have been identified as the most critical areas to treat within the larger 7 million acre watershed. This new RCPP project expands access to public and private technical assistance, new and on-going innovative conservation practices and expertise for modeling and evaluating outcomes to farmers in these critical sub-watersheds.