Bennet Announces Over $2.3 Million in Federal Funding for Conservation Projects in San Luis Valley and Montezuma County

Denver  – Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) selected two projects in Colorado to receive over $2.3 million through the agency’s Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). Colorado Open Lands in San Luis Valley and Montezuma County are leading the projects that will focus on improving water, land, and wildlife conservation. 

"From my position on the Senate Agriculture Committee, I worked to reauthorize and increase funding for RCPP in the last Farm Bill to support important, locally driven conservation projects in Colorado,” Bennet said. "I admire the innovative work being done by Colorado Open Lands and its partners to provide irrigators the tools they need to modernize water infrastructure in the San Luis Valley. I also appreciate Montezuma County’s efforts to decrease the number of invasive species and preserve our incredibly valuable rivers and water supplies. This funding will go a long way to help preserve and protect our state’s natural resources for future generations of Coloradans.”  

“This grant is the culmination of a decade of investments by Colorado Open Lands in the Costilla County community, said Tony Caligiuri, President of Colorado Open Lands. “We are proud to help these farmers and ranchers protect their heritage and agriculture traditions forged over a century ago.” 

Colorado Open Lands will protect properties irrigated by historic acequias in the Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area, a region known for its agricultural and wildlife resources. The partnership plans to protect 3,000 acres of farm and ranch lands using conservation easements, targeting many underserved producers in the area. The project was awarded $1.95 million in funding. 

Montezuma County will work with landowners to treat lands and waterways negatively impacted by invasive species that consume large amounts of precious water in this drought-stricken landscape. The partnership will also work with landowners on how to restore native vegetation to prevent the recurrence of invasive species. The project was awarded $325,000 in funding.  

As Ranking Member of the Conservation, Forestry, and Natural Resources Subcommittee, Bennet helped craft the conservation title of the 2014 Farm Bill, which established the RCPP. In the 2018 Farm Bill, Bennet led efforts to reauthorize RCPP, streamlining its administration to provide $300 million in annual funding for partner-driven projects. The Colorado projects, as well as 46 other conservation projects across the country, are the first awards funded under the 2018 Farm Bill program. 

More information about the RCPP Grants is available HERE