Congressman John Garamendi

Representing the 3rd District of California
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Congressman Garamendi Pleased Bay-Delta Watershed Designated Critical Conservation Area by USDA

May 28, 2014
Press Release

WALNUT GROVE, CA – Congressman John Garamendi (D-Fairfield, CA), a longtime resident of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and Member of the House Agriculture and Transportation and Infrastructure committees, is happy to report that the United States Department of Agriculture is naming California’s entire Bay-Delta watershed, covering most of the Central Valley, as one of eight critical conservation areas in the country.

The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP), created in the 2014 Farm Bill, will fund a number of conservation activities across California – with special funding available for the Bay-Delta watershed.

“This is an opportunity for our local partners to work together to improve water conservation and water quality while protecting natural habitats,” Congressman Garamendi said. “I’m pleased our Congressional delegation was able to help facilitate this opportunity for the Bay-Delta. It’ll mean good things for our region.”

On April 17th, 2014, Congressman Garamendi led a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack urging him to designate the Bay-Delta watershed as a critical conservation area. Garamendi was joined in that letter by Representatives Ami Bera, Janice Hahn, Mike Thompson, Anna Eshoo, Zoe Lofgren, Jerry McNerney, Sam Farr, Maxine Waters, Alan Lowenthal, Doris Matsui, and Jim Costa.

“We believe California's diverse agricultural production and wildlife habitat is unparalleled and our constituents have already forged longstanding partnerships on these issues,” the Members wrote. “If selected as a Critical Conservation Area, the partners are ready to continue their work and would be provided the tools necessary to implement sustainable agriculture practices for the benefit of both producers and the environment.”

The RCPP will competitively award funds to conservation projects designed by local partners specifically for their region. Eligible partners include private companies, universities, non-profit organizations, local and tribal governments and others joining with agricultural and conservation organizations and producers to invest money, manpower and materials to their proposed initiatives. Through RCPP, partners propose conservation projects to improve soil health, water quality and water use efficiency, wildlife habitat, and other related natural resources on private lands. USDA's $1.2 billion in funding over the life of the five-year program can leverage an additional $1.2 billion from partners for a total of $2.4 billion for conservation. $400 million in USDA funding is available in the first year.

RCPP replaces the former NRCS Agricultural Water Enhancement Program (AWEP) and Cooperative Conservation Partnership Initiative (CCPI) program. These two programs also worked with conservation partners to implement conservation using a landscape approach.

NRCS California has established eight natural resource priority concerns for which applications will be accepted. These are soil health, water quality, air quality, water quantity, habitat degradation for at-risk species, inefficient energy use, forest health, and rangeland health. Proposal applications are now being accepted for the program.  Pre-proposals are due July 14, and full proposals are due September 26.  For more information on applying, visit https://www.grants.gov/web/grants/view-opportunity.html?oppId=256049.