Lake Champlain Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP)

The State of Vermont—in partnership with 25 organizations, agencies, businesses and nonprofits—received a $16 million grant from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service through the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). Until May 2020, the Lake Champlain RCPP will provide financial and technical assistance to agricultural and forest landowners for the development and implementation of water quality improvement projects in the Lake Champlain Basin. RCPP funds will also help conserve agricultural lands, and restore and protect wetlands that absorb runoff and slow floodwaters.

The Lake Champlain RCPP brings together traditional and nontraditional partners, from state and federal agencies to dairy cooperatives and lenders, collectively contributing more than $20 million in match and enabling greater participation in clean water efforts. 

Follow the links below for additional information.


Program Initiatives

Agricultural Conservation Best Management Practices

Funding is available through the NRCS Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) for agricultural water quality improvements. All agricultural funding is for the development and implementation of conservation plans and improvements on conserved lands. Only a portion of the farm must be conserved for the entire farm to be eligible to participate.

Forestry Best Management Practices 

Forestry conservation practices funded through the Lake Champlain RCPP include controlling soils erosion on logging roads, improving stream crossings (see image, top right), restoring forest riparian buffers along streams, and stabilizing erosion-prone soils. (Photo credit: Department of Forests, Parks, and Recreation)

Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP)

Agricultural Land Easements

Vermont’s farmland conservation program partners with the Vermont Land Trust and Vermont Housing and Conservation Board to offer conservation easements through the NRCS Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP). Farms that participate agree to permanently conserve agricultural land, and as of 2014, are required to have and implement a conservation plan that addresses natural resource concerns on the farm (see image, center right, of a riparian buffer along the Missiquoi River). (Photo credit: Vermont Land Trust) 

Wetland Easements

Vermont’s wetland restoration and conservation program offers Wetland Reserve Easements (WRE) through the NRCS-ACEP program, which compensates landowners for retiring land from agriculture in perpetuity, and restoring wetland function and values (see image, bottom right).  As match to this grant, the State of Vermont has developed a Wetlands Incentive Payment Calculator that will determine an incentive payment to accelerate landowner participation in high priority wetland, riparian and floodplain restoration projects. The State is also providing cash payments to pilot test this innovative approach. (Photo credit: Vermont Land Trust)


Eligibility

  • Agricultural funding is available for conserved farms in the Lake Champlain Basin or farms that are in the process of selling development rights.
  • Forestry funding is available to all landowners in the Lake Champlain Basin.
  • Agricultural and wetland easement funding is available for all landowners in the Lake Champlain Basin.
  • Small farms are a high priority.

Resources

Landowners who are interested in the Lake Champlain RCPP program are encouraged to apply at their local USDA service center. Programmatic questions may be directed to: Alli Compagna, RCPP Project Coordinator, Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation, allison.compagna@vermont.gov, 802-490-6124.

Details about other Vermont RCPP projects can be found on the Vermont NRCS RCPP webpage.