Upstate Forever awarded $3.9 million USDA funding partnership

April 29th, 2020

We are honored to announce that Upstate Forever has been selected to receive a Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) award from the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in the amount of more than $3.9 million to support local conservation efforts.

Funding from this program will be used to protect the region’s most critical lands for water quality, with an emphasis on priority farmland. Focus areas for RCCP-funded conservation projects include farms, ranches, croplands, agricultural neighborhoods, equestrian areas, and watershed lands across the Upstate. To be considered for protection through Upstate Forever’s Land Trust, a property must meet certain criteria for location, soil, water, and habitat quality.

RCPP is a partner-driven approach to conservation that funds solutions to natural resource challenges on agricultural land. By leveraging collective resources and collaborating on common goals, RCPP demonstrates the power of public-private partnerships in delivering results for agriculture and conservation.

Upstate Forever’s proposal is one of 48 (across 29 states) selected for the RCPP funding. NRCS will award $206 million for these 48 RCPP projects while leveraging nearly $300 million in partner contributions.  

“It’s part of Upstate Forever’s mission to protect our region’s water, and some of the most influential lands for water quality are those used to grow our food,” said Scott Park, the Glenn Hilliard Director of Land Conservation at Upstate Forever. “In 2018, Upstate Forever set a goal to protect 15,000 additional acres of critical land by the end of 2022. We’re excited to help out our landowners and our partners by offering this great incentive to protect more land forever.”

About the Regional Conservation Partnership Program

Though RCPP was first authorized in the 2014 Farm Bill, the 2018 Farm Bill made changes to strengthen the program and simplify its rules. RCPP is now a stand-alone program with $300 million annually available for partner-driven projects.

“I’m excited to announce the first RCPP awards under the 2018 Farm Bill,” said NRCS Chief Matthew Lohr. “Through collaboration and aligning our resources toward a common goal, we’re making an impact for natural resource conservation that could never have been realized on our own.”

Since 2015, RCPP has combined $1 billion in NRCS investments with close to $2 billion in partner dollars to implement conservation practices nationwide. For more information, visit the RCPP webpage.

Contact Upstate Forever to inquire about protecting land with RCCP funding

Upstate Forever is seeking willing landowners for this conservation opportunity, particularly those with properties that meet the following criteria:

  • South Greenville agricultural neighborhoods
  • Saluda River Valley (North Pickens and Greenville County) ranches and croplands
  • South Oconee and northwestern Anderson farm operations
  • Cherokee and Union county pastures and livestock operations
  • North Spartanburg and southern Polk County, NC equestrian areas
  • Laurens County farms and pastures
  • Greenwood and Abbeville county river bottom agriculture operations

Interested landowners should contact Scott Park directly at or Upstate Forever’s Greenville office at (864) 250-0500. Upstate Forever is a nationally accredited land trust that protects more than 23,600 acres across the Upstate.

Photo by Morgan Yelton

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