Conservation Partnership Award to Benefit Local Landowners and Environment

Funding will enable local partners to improve habitat as well as water quality and use

Sheridan, WY | January 15, 2015

The Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) is awarding 1.9 million dollars in funding to help private landowners address conservation needs in Sheridan County. RCPP is part of the an innovative new program created by the 2014 Farm Bill and administered by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). Under this public-private partnership, local landowners will receive funding to improve soil health, water quality and use, wildlife habitat and other natural resources on private land.

The Tongue River Initiative is receiving one of the two RCPP awards made in Wyoming. TRI is a partnership between the Sheridan Community Land Trust, and The Nature Conservancy with participation and support from the Sheridan County Conservation District. Funds will be used to improve fish and wildlife habitat and agriculture efficiency and to assure clean and abundant flows of water in the Tongue River, Goose Creek and Prairie Dog Creek watersheds.

“This project will provide us with additional resources to address water quality concerns and an opportunity to expand partnerships with other entities so more benefits can be realized,” says Carrie Rogaczewski, District Manager of the Sheridan County Conservation District.

It was a sentiment echoed by Rick Pallister, Northeast Wyoming program director for The Nature Conservancy, “This funding is a very important early step in addressing many of the conservation issues of the Tongue River drainage. The multi-pronged partnerships we’ve formed afford a great opportunity for landowners and partners to complete projects that improve the value of their properties while improving the quality of the lands and water in the Tongue system for people, wildlife and agriculture. Call it a win-win-win. The landowner partnerships are the key to overall success.”

The RCPP is a bold and comprehensive landscape-scale approach that effectively leverages public investment on private land to attain conservation successes that span public-private boundaries.

“This is a big deal,” according to Wyoming Fish and Game wildlife biologist Travis Cundy. “RCPP is making money available that we otherwise wouldn’t have. It’s also bringing together a lot of diverse partners toward a common goal.”

The funding will be used on a variety of activities including protecting the river and creeks from agricultural runoff that has raised bacterial pollution levels, improving passage for fish such as sauger and channel cat, controlling invasive Russian olive, providing stock water improvements, stabilizing stream banks and channels, improving irrigation efficiency, and protecting productive agricultural lands from development. Some of these activities, such as water quality monitoring have been underway for years. The funding will allow their continuation and the expansion of both monitoring and on-the-ground improvements to streamside habitat.

“We’re thrilled about the RCPP grant award and look forward to expanding our work with local landowners and partners to tackle projects that have tangible public and private benefits for the Tongue River watershed,” says Colin Betzler, Director of the Sheridan Community Land Trust. 

Landowners who would like to participate in this project or who want more information should contact Carrie Rogaczewski

About the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP)

The process for selecting projects for RCPP funding was highly competitive. Nearly 600 proposals were submitted, of which only 115 received funding.

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, workers and materials to their proposed initiatives. 

Forty percent of RCPP funding was awarded to national and multi-state projects; 25 percent to state projects; and 35 percent to critical conservation areas (CCAs) designated by the Secretary of Agriculture. These CCAs include the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, Mississippi River Basin, Colorado River Basin, Great Lakes Region, Longleaf Pine Range, Columbia River Basin, Prairie Grasslands Region and the California Bay Delta. 

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at unprecedented scale, and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in more than 65 countries, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit or follow @nature_press on Twitter.

Contact information

Bebe Crouse


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