UPDATE: As of August 29, 2018, the Regional Conservation Partnership Program boundary has been expanded to include landowners in the Nisqually Watershed.
After losing nearly 10,000-acres of farmland in the last decade, organizations throughout Pierce County have been working diligently to find ways to protect this important resource. With today’s announcement that Pierce Conservation District will be awarded $8 million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to permanently protect 1,000-acres of prime farmland, the County just got a big boost in the effort.
“The Puyallup Watershed is unique not only within Washington State, but in the country as a whole,” said Ryan Mello, Executive Director of the Pierce Conservation District. “From its headwaters at Mount Rainier’s glaciers to its terminus at Commencement Bay, one of the nation’s largest ports, the Puyallup is under severe pressure from development, climate change, and pollution. Permanently conserving over 1,000 acres of prime farmland in Pierce County not only helps farmers and local food security, but also enhances ecosystem benefits that farmland provides to water and soil quality, supporting threatened salmon populations.”
The project brings together ten different partners, including Pierce County, Forterra, PCC Farmland Trust, the Puyallup Tribe of Indians, and the Puyallup Watershed Initiative, and will leverage an additional $8 million in partnership funds to match the federal dollars.
Click here to request more info: Regional Conservation Partnership Interest Survey
“We very much look forward to working with our partners on-the-ground in the Puyallup Watershed to conserve working farms, improve water quality and habitat function through the strategic investment of the Regional Conservation Partnership Program,” added Mello. “The NRCS, land trust partners, state natural resource agencies and our private landowner cooperators will all benefit greatly from the work to come with this targeted, strategic investment to conserve the soil of the Puyallup farm valley for generations to come. Our existing partnerships will blossom even more under this amazing opportunity.”
The vast majority of the funds will be used to place farmland into permanent conservation easements, ensuring that the land remains farmland indefinitely. Ten percent of the funds will be used to implement conservation practices on the farms to help improve water quality in local streams and restore habitat for fish and wildlife.
Since 2009, USDA has invested more than $29 billion to help producers make conservation improvements, working with as many as 500,000 farmers, ranchers and landowners to protect over 400 million acres nationwide, boosting soil and air quality, cleaning and conserving water and enhancing wildlife habitat. For an interactive look at USDA's work in conservation and forestry over the course of this Administration, visit http://medium.com/usda-results.
To learn more about the Regional Conservation Partnership Program visit this website: https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/national/programs/farmbill/rcpp/
To view the announcement about this funding award from the United States Secretary of Agriculture view this link: https://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/usdahome?contentid=2016/12/0269.xml&contentidonly=true