USDA selects first projects of new, innovative program

01/16/2015 09:35



Public Affairs Illinois

Natural Resources Conservation Service

2118 West Park Court

Champaign, Illinois 61821

(217) 353-6606






FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 12, 2015          Contact: Paige Buck, Public Affairs (217) 353.6606


USDA selects first projects of new, innovative program


Champaign, IL Jan. 14, 2015 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that 100 high-impact projects across all 50 states, including Illinois, will receive more than $370 million as part of the new Regional Conservation Partnership Program. RCPP’s historic focus on public-private partnership enables private companies, local communities and other non-government partners a way to invest in efforts to keep our land resilient and water clean, and promote tremendous economic growth in agriculture, construction, tourism and outdoor recreation, and other industries.


This year’s projects in Illinois will accomplish a wide diversity of agricultural and natural resource goals from soil health improvements, soil erosion reduction, and water quality enhancements. By supporting farmer use of soil health practices, offering long-term and sustainable solutions that work on Illinois farms, and working alongside key partners, these special projects will have lasting positive effects for farm families, their operations, and the State of Illinois as a whole.


“Partners see the value of conservation and investing in their future,” Vilsack said. “These partnerships are forging a new path for getting conservation on the ground and are providing opportunities for communities to have a voice and ownership in protecting and improving our natural resources. The Regional Conservation Partnership Program ushers in a new era of conservation, and we’re excited about the down-the-road benefits from this new Farm Bill program.”

This year’s projects will engage hundreds of partners with wide-ranging interests, including communities, conservation districts, agribusiness, non-government organizations, for- and non-profit organizations, state and federal agencies and Tribal governments. In addition to USDA funds, partners’ will contribute an estimated $400 million, more than doubling USDA’s investment.


“RCPP puts our partners in the driver’s seat,” said Ivan Dozier, USDA’S Natural Resources Conservation Service state conservationist in Illinois. “Projects are led locally, and demonstrate the value of strong public-private partnerships that deliver solutions to tough natural resource challenges.” In Illinois, RCPP will create three RCPP projects.

  1. Conservation Cropping Systems for Improving Soil Health:  Soil Health Assessment, Comprehensive, Conservation Planning and Implementation on Targeted Farms throughout Illinois. Lead Partner is Illinois Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Land and Water Resources. This project will primarily address soil health and will also support water quality and erosion control benefits. The project proposes to work with at least 100 farms/farmers distributed across all Illinois counties to create a network of “Soil Health Model Farms.” Select EQIP participants will work with a soil health expert to identify a combination of farm specific management practices including cover crops, no-till and nutrient management strategies.


  1. BMP Implementation for Nutrient and Sediment Loss Reduction in Macon County, Illinois. Lead Partner is Macon County SWCD. This project will address both  soil erosion and water quality and will forge a new partnership between the Macon County SWCD and the Sanitary District of Decatur.  Using the SWCD’s proven history with producers and the Sanitary District’s modern water analysis lab, in-depth testing can be conducted to prove that new edge-of-field best management practices (drainage water management, bio-reactors and saturated buffer strips) are ecologically and economically worthwhile practices to reduce nutrient loss through subsurface tile drainage.     


  1.  Shorebird Conservation Acreage via Drainage Water Runoff Control. Lead partner: Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Science, University of Illinois. The Illinois project is a globally important stopover location for many species of conservation concern, especially the American Golden-Plover. Millions of other migratory shorebirds and waterfowl use the area. Creating temporary wetlands in strategic locations through NRCS’s drainage water management (DWM) program will provide valuable conservation acreage for many migratory bird species. DWM provide numerous other benefits, including reductions in nitrogen and phosphorous runoff, improved water quality, and potential increases in crop production for the producer. The RCPP partnership aims to double annual implementation of DWM in Illinois.




FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 15, 2015             Contact: Paige Buck, Public Affairs (217) 353.6606


USDA selects first projects of new, innovative program


Champaign, IL Jan. 14, 2015 –Today State Conservationist Ivan Dozier announced the selected 2015 projects and partners for NRCS’ newest option, the Regional Conservation Partnership Program, or RCPP. Three Illinois projects will serve as the first of many science-based public-private collaborative efforts to further natural resource success and solve ecological problems. “It is exciting to announce these landmark projects and to meet with the partners and players who will make them happen,” Dozier said.

The process for applying and developing proposals is highly competitive—organizations submitted more than 600 proposals nationwide. Numbers like that indicate two things—there are serious resource needs on the land and a high level of interest in the new program model.

“The best part about the new program is that it’s a trifecta. We can address real, relevant concerns on the land, local Illinois farmers get the help and funds they need to do it, and private organizations and partners with similar goals leverage their funds with those from the Federal Government. We’ll be able to do good things and do more of it.”

NRCS hopes success with this model will become the future solution for solving soil, water, and other local problems Illinois agriculture faces today and tomorrow.


Project Name

Resource Concern

Lead Partner

Key Solution Used

Conservation Cropping Systems for Improving Soil Health

(State Level RCPP)

Soil Health, Water Quality, Soil Erosion

Illinois Dept. of Ag Bureau of Land & Water

Farm Specific Practices-- Cover Crops, No-Till & Nutrient Management Strategies

BMP Implementation for Nutrient & Sediment Loss Reduction

(State Level RCPP)

Soil Erosion, Water Quality

Macon County Soil & Water Conservation District

Edge-of-field BMPs: Drainage Water Management, Bio-Reactors, & Saturated Buffer strips

Shorebird Conservation Acreage via Drainage Water Runoff Control

(Critical Conservation Area RCPP)

Migratory bird habitat,  Water Quality, Crop Production

U of I’s Dept. of Natural Resources & Environmental Sciences  (NRES)

Drainage Water Management


RCPP is a 5-year $1.2 billion USDA commitment; projects not selected in this first year may be eligible in subsequent years,” Dozier said. For more information on Illinois RCPP projects, visit The next announcement for program funding for fiscal year 2016 will be made in upcoming months. To learn about technical and financial assistance available through conservation programs, visit or local USDA service center.