The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced the investment into two projects in Georgia designed to help mitigate climate change and protect natural resources. In all, USDA is investing $330 million in 85 locally driven, public-private partnerships across the nation to address climate change, improve the nation’s water quality, combat drought, enhance soil health, support wildlife habitat and protect agricultural viability. These projects are awarded through the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP).
“The Regional Conservation Partnership Program is public-private partnerships working at their best,” said Terrance O. Rudolph, NRCS state conservationist in Georgia. “These new projects will harness the power of partnerships to help bring about solutions to natural resource concerns across the country while supporting our efforts to combat the climate crisis.”
The RCPP projects in Georgia include:
- The Working Farms Fund (Georgia): The Conservation Fund, in collaboration with six local partners, proposes to establish the first-of-its-kind program in the country, known as the Working Farms Fund. The project, based on results from a successful Conservation Innovation Grant, will permanently protect farmland across the Atlanta metropolitan foodshed and create opportunities for ambitious, diverse farmers to access affordable farms through an innovative buy-protect-sell model. Partners, like Emory University and the University of Georgia Small Business Development Center will help report on the carbon sequestration, social and economic outcomes of the project. The partnership is committed to ensuring that at least 20% of its participating farmers come from historically underserved groups.
- The Georgia Gopher Tortoise Initiative: The US Endowment for Forestry and Communities and partners will offer conservation easements and habitat restoration and maintenance activities on private forest land to protect Gopher Tortoise populations living in longleaf pine ecosystems in Georgia. The project is designed to help prevent a Threatened or Endangered listing of the gopher tortoise under the Endangered Species Act. Between RCPP and partner contribution investments, an estimated 8,000 acres of private and public lands will benefit from land management activities. This project builds on the existing Gopher Tortoise Conservation Initiative established in 2015.
To learn more about RCPP and see the interactive map of awarded projects click here.