by Tom Mallon, Montana ALE Program Coordinator
December 3 marked the deadline to submit Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) proposals for the 2019 funding cycle. Two Montana land trusts – Bitter Root Land Trust and Five Valleys Land Trust, and the Heart of the Rockies Initiative – submitted RCPP proposals with hopes of funding landscape-scale conservation projects in Montana through NRCS’ innovative, partner-driven program.
In addition, the Gallatin Valley Land Trust RCPP renewal had been approved in November, which means three Montana land trusts – 25% of the MALT membership – and HOTR are seeking to participate in the current RCPP process. RCPP was amended significantly through the 2018 Farm Bill, and land trusts that submitted proposals this go-around were faced with substantial uncertainty during the application period leading up to last week. The RCPP interim-final rules have not yet been made available to the public, which added a layer of complexity to the application process since it was not possible to fully understand the program in its entirety. Those rules are set to be released in the coming months, which will dictate how the revamped program will operate through 2023. 2019 applicants will tentatively be selected for funding in March of 2020.
Thank you to NRCS staff for their invaluable assistance throughout the application process, including officials at the local, state, and national levels. Countless NRCS partners made themselves available through holding RCPP workshops and webinars, Q&A sessions, and answering a plethora of questions over the phone and via email. Your assistance and partnership is greatly valued and you helped to make the process much less cumbersome for Montana land trusts.