USDA Secretary Vilsack Announces $235 Million Available for Conservation Programs

Washington, DC - Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet today encouraged local coalitions, governments, private companies, nonprofit organizations, and farmers and ranchers to apply for funding for conservation projects made available today by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that $235 million is available through the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). Bennet helped craft the RCPP program, which was created in the 2014 Farm Bill. Secretary Vilsack said the USDA will fund projects focused on improving soil health, preserving clean water, combating drought, and protecting wildlife habitat. Proposals are due July 8.

"Conservation programs not only allow us to preserve valuable lands for future generations and wildlife habitat, they also play a large part in sustaining our agriculture, recreation and tourism industries," Bennet said. "The announcement of this additional funding is exciting news, and we encourage people to apply for this funding to facilitate conservation programs across the state. We fought to include the RCPP in the Farm Bill and it has already benefitted two important projects in Colorado."

This is the second round of RCPP funding. Two Colorado projects received funding in January from the last round. The Colorado Department of Agriculture received $1.8 million for a project to address water quantity and quality as well as energy resource concerns in Colorado through the development of low-impact hydropower on pressurized irrigation systems. The project aims to simplify the way agricultural producers in Colorado implement hydropower in their operations. The Colorado River District was awarded $8 million in funding for a project in the Lower Gunnison River Basin to better manage agricultural and water resources for farming. The project will work to expand improvements in conveyance, delivery, and on-farm irrigation that are already occurring in the Lower Gunnison sub-basin.

Bennet, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, helped craft the conservation title of the 2014 Farm Bill, including the creation of the RCPP. He also led efforts with Senator Mark Udall and Representative Scott Tipton urging USDA to designate the Colorado River Basin as a Critical Conservation Area, making projects in the region eligible for that category of funding. Last July, Bennet met with local stakeholders in Montrose to hear about the conservation project proposals for the Colorado River Basin.

Click here to learn more about the RCPP.

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