A private-lands project that aims to improve conditions for threatened coho salmon in California is getting an $8 million boost from the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP).

RCPP, a program of USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service, is offering Alternative Funding Arrangements (AFA) for projects with private partners that “focus on climate-smart agriculture and forestry and other conservation priorities,” according to an NRCS statement. Another goal is to increase access for historically disadvantaged farmers and ranchers.

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation plans to work in the Shasta Valley to improve fish drought resilience. 

“The partnership with National Fish and Wildlife Foundation will support the implementation of a Safe Harbor Agreement designed to improve conditions for threatened coho salmon along 37 stream miles within the Shasta River, a tributary to the Klamath River,” said Carlos Suarez, state conservationist for California, in the statement.

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Fish in the Klamath have struggled during low-water years, especially in the current drought conditions, though water allocations for wildlife remain controversial in a region where farmers are also struggling to stay in business without adequate water. 

The Shasta project was one of 15 announced last week. All told, the projects will receive $75 million. 

“The AFA component of RCPP is designed for partners who are thinking outside of the box to address some of our most pressing natural resource challenges,” said Terry Cosby, NRCS chief, in a separate news release.

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