HURON — USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in South Dakota is holding a state-level sign-up for the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) with the area of consideration in the James River Watershed and within the Prairie Pothole Working Lands Partnership.

The James River Watershed includes portions of McPherson, Edmunds, Faulk, Potter, Hyde, Hand, Brown, Spink, Beadle, Sanborn, Jerauld, Aurora, Davison, Hanson, Douglas, Hutchinson, Bon Homme, Yankton, McCook, Miner, Kingsbury, Clark, Day, Marshall and Roberts counties. The Prairie Pothole Working Lands Partnership is all Counties east of the Missouri River in South Dakota.

The batching date is May 15, 2020. Landowners and producers are encouraged to visit the NRCS office at their local USDA Service Center to find out more information and sign-up for the program.

This program provides a new approach to conservation, said Jennifer Wurtz, EQIP Program Coordinator, for the NRCS in South Dakota.

“The RCPP offers a unique opportunity to harness innovation and welcome new partners into the conservation mission,” she said. “The program partners are in the driver’s seat, allowing them to find creative solutions to the conservation issues in their areas.”

These two funding opportunities are with NRCS, Ducks Unlimited, and several other partners.

Emphasis for these projects is with practices that are aimed at improving soil health, wildlife habitat, and landscape productivity. The RCPP provides land operators or owners with financial assistance for incorporating soil health practices in their operation, improving wildlife habitat, and diversifying crop rotations and landscape use. A major concern for maintaining a healthy and productive soil is keeping a living root in the soil for as long as possible throughout the year. One way to accomplish this is by using cover crops.

The RCPP provides a way for private companies, tribes, local communities, and non-government partners to collaborate and invest in cleaner water and air, healthier soil, and enhanced wildlife habitat. It will enable USDA to partner with third parties or work directly with producers in watersheds and other critical conservation areas to leverage private sector funding to maximize conservation investments.

To learn about technical and financial assistance available through conservation programs, visit www.nrcs.usda.gov/GetStarted or local USDA service center. Specialists with the USDA NRCS are working and available by phone or e-mail while taking safety measures in response to COVID-19. To apply, contact your local NRCS office. While access is restricted to the buildings, our services are still available via phone appointment or online. Visit https://www.farmers.gov/connect to find your local office and employee contact information.

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