Rice Stewardship Grows Working Lands Conservation in Louisiana, Texas

    Two new Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) proposals submitted by the Rice Stewardship Partnership have been approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) awarding nearly $6 million for conservation of water and habitat in ricelands in Texas and Louisiana.

    “We are thrilled with the good news and excited about growing our working lands conservation portfolio in Louisiana and Texas,” said Josh Hankins, USA Rice Stewardship Partnership Coordinator.  “These two states provide critically important habitat for waterfowl in the Gulf Coast and the Mississippi Alluvial Valley.”

    The Cultivating Water Conservation on Working Lands project will restore cypress-tupelo brakes in seven parishes in Louisiana.  By restoring brakes on working agricultural lands to capture surface water and storm runoff, farmers can improve water quality and improve habitat for wildlife while reducing pumping costs and groundwater use.  This project will be supported with $450,000 in RCPP funding.

    The Gulf Coast Water and Wildlife Conservation project will help rice producers in Louisiana and Texas conserve natural resources while having long-term positive impacts on their bottom line.  Project partners will assist NRCS and Texas River Authorities in Hurricane Harvey recovery efforts and address water quantity and habitat concerns in the Gulf Coast.  It will be supported with $5.43 million in RCPP funding.

    “These are funds that would be going to another part of the country had our Rice Stewardship Partnership not successfully advocated for them,” said Hankins.  “If you grow rice in these parishes or counties, it is worth your time to learn more about these program offerings, because they are designed for your needs.”

    Sign-up periods for participation in the two RCPP projects have not been announced. For more information, contact Josh Hankins or your local NRCS office.

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    Established in the 2014 Farm Bill, the RCPP competitively awards funds to conservation projects designed and delivered by innovative partnerships like the Rice Stewardship Partnership, a collaboration between USA Rice, Ducks Unlimited (DU), and other organizations, willing to invest money, labor, and materials on initiatives to expand voluntary, private lands conservation.

    “RCPP enables us to work side by side with rice producers, NRCS field offices, Soil & Water Conservation Districts, River Authoritie,s and supply-chain partners to accelerate conservation efforts and achieve measurable progress,” said DU Director of Conservation Innovation Dr. Scott Manley.  “NRCS has demonstrated admirable vision and tangible results through this program, and we look forward to continued positive outcomes for valuable natural resources such as water, soil, and wildlife.”

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