The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced it is investing $330 million in 85 locally driven, public-private partnerships to address climate change, improve the nation’s water quality, combat drought, enhance soil health, support wildlife habitat and protect agricultural viability, including three projects in New Jersey.
Projects are awarded through the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP).
“The Regional Conservation Partnership Program is public-private partnerships working at their best,” said Julie Hawkins, NRCS State Conservationist in New Jersey. “These new projects will harness the power of partnerships to help bring about solutions to natural resource concerns across the country while supporting our efforts to combat the climate crisis.”
Across America, producers are seeing the impacts from climate change. Farmers, landowners and local communities can be a major part of the effort to combat climate change.
Under the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is engaged in a whole-of-government effort to combat the climate crisis and conserve and protect our nation’s lands, biodiversity and natural resources including our soil, air and water. Through conservation practices and partnerships, including those through RCPP, USDA aims to enhance economic growth and create new streams of income for farmers, ranchers, producers and private foresters. Successfully meeting these challenges will require USDA and our agencies to pursue a coordinated approach alongside USDA stakeholders, including state, local and Tribal governments.
NRCS New Jersey was awarded a total of $1,673,572 for the following three projects.
Protecting Source Water in the Raritan Basin
Lead Partner: New Jersey Water Supply Authority
Project Summary: The New Jersey Water Supply Authority proposes to use RCPP’s flexible producer incentives to implement conservation systems and practices on farms in the Raritan Basin Water Supply System. The project will offer additional cost-share via the Authority’s source water protection fund and also enroll conservation easements, document pollutant load reductions and/or pollutant loads avoided, and assess the social impact of offering flexible producer incentives.
Salem River Bog Turtle Protection and Restoration
Lead Partner: New Jersey Audubon
Project Summary: New Jersey Audubon and partners propose to restore, enhance, and protect occupied and potential bog turtle habitat, and improve connectivity between public and private lands through habitat restoration and land acquisition. The bog turtle is the official state reptile of New Jersey and is a Federally Threatened and State endangered species. An innovative ranking system will use various datasets to target specific properties to connect wetland habitat throughout the watershed.
Northern NJ Small Farm Food Link Conservation Project
Award: $ $355,000
Lead Partner: Urban Agriculture Cooperative
Project Summary: The Urban Agriculture Cooperative proposes to deliver technical and financial assistance to new and historically underserved urban farmers in Northern N.J. Implementation of seasonal high tunnels, composting facilities, cover crops and irrigation practices will improve soil health and irrigation water use efficiency, as well as help urban producers realize lower input costs and more production. Participating farms will also see new revenue streams from composting activities. The project will increase opportunities for black, Indigenous, people of color, women, immigrants, and new young farmers to participate in all aspects of the local food economy from production to retail. Historically underserved farmers pursuing land tenure will benefit and strengthen their linkages with rural farmers to bring more food to the urban residents who lack fresh food access.
There are currently 336 active RCPP projects that have engaged more than 2,000 partners. For more information, visit the RCPP webpage.