As parts of Oregon and California face severe water shortages, the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service has awarded the states a total of 9 Regional Conservation Partnership Program grants.

The projects must match the grants with an equal amount of funding from other sources and the goal is to leverage both dollars and other partner resources to address a range of concerns from wildlife habitat to agricultural irrigation.

California’s four projects span the state and include rebuilding for wildfire resiliency, improving irrigation and water use efficiency and expanding California’s Healthy Soils Initiative. Lead grantees are the Mission Resource Conservation District, the Rebuild North Bay Foundation, the Siskiyou Land Trust and California State University, but each of them assembled a collection of partners who will jointly implement the projects.

“These 4 new projects will harness the power of partnerships to help bring about solutions to natural resource concerns across California while supporting our efforts to combat the climate crisis,” NRCS California state conservationist Carlos Suarez said in a statement.

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Oregon’s five projects include increasing habitat for migrating birds, ensuring adequate stream flow for endangered fish and frogs, improving irrigation for agriculture and increasing resiliency to wildfires. The lead organizations for the Oregon projects are the Lomakatsi Restoration Project, Oregon Department of Forestry, Ducks Unlimited, Trout Unlimited and Deschutes River Conservancy.

Across the country, NRCS is investing $330 million in 35 RCPP projects. The RCPP is one of the newer conservation programs, created in the 2014 farm bill and expanded in 2018.

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