Thanks to Keith Owen, NACD, for sharing this video and kudos to Walt Delp and his NRCS coworkers for some excellent history and narration. An early erosion and sediment control effort still serving and providing benefits. m.youtube.com/watch?v=w-HfoPAjetM&feature=player_embeddedRecently, the restoration of the dam that created Lake Bennett was completed at Wooly Hollow State Park near Greenbrier. Lake Bennett is named after Hugh Ham... ...
The Regional Conservation Partnership Program remains an opportunity to achieve important Watershed/Natural Resource goals. The Farm Bill calls for some program improvements that should make things work even better for Watershed Project Sponsors as well as Conservation Districts across the country. Our friends and partners at NACD hit a few of the new RCPP high points in their recent blog post: ...
#NACD's government affairs team analyzes the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) in its second farm bill breakdown blog. The #2018FarmBill made several changes to RCPP that will help districts continue their impressive use of the program; leverage even more non-federal funding for conservation; and strengthen stewardship of our natural resources.
And haven’t we come along way?! Watershed Project Sponsors have enjoyed success on several fronts in the last 20 years...successfully weathering some hard times with our program partners. Most recently we have seen some leaps forward in funding that result in more viable partners and new opportunities to address complex natural resource issues on a Watershed basis.
Ever looked at something very familiar and have seen something new? You know...like figuring out home grown tomatoes go good with white gravy on them, left over cornbread dressing makes a delicious, crispy treat when re heated on the waffle iron with a little butter for lubrication....you know..a “why didn’t I think of that?!” moment. (Pinterest is full of em.)
That’s where we as project sponsors find ourselves today. We can see familiar work and we are faced with new challenges. While it is ok to look at the past we need not stare....the Watershed Program funding in the new Farm Bill along with significant changes to the RCPP Program give us the opportunity for some innovative problem solving and new Watershed work going forward. Time to shake things up a little and revitalize our efforts! It’s time to re educate our federal partners and let them know our needs. It’s time to share both our successes and our needs with decision makers at the local, state and federal levels. After all, 2039 will be here before you know it!!
As noted previously...More is revealed! A couple of things:
One of our great Watershed Program supporters from Texas was invited to the Farm Bill signing ceremony and shared his "in the room!" photo at the signing. See Wise County Judge JD Clark's post which follows our Watershed Farm Bill Milestones Summary below.
The National Watershed Coalition (NWC) focused our farm bill advocacy efforts on two major priorities: mandatory funding for PL-566/Dam Rehab and policy changes within RCPP to allow sponsors a better opportunity to use PL-566 authorities. Below is a summary of important Watershed Program milestones contained in the final Conference Report.
The Conference Report provides $50 million a year over the next ten years. The language also makes this funding permanent. This is a really BIG deal! We are extremely pleased that this element is included in the bill. It will require continued diligence on our part to ensure the beneficial aspects of this language are fully realized. It is our hope that this will establish a firm base and solidify USDA-NRCS technical, programmatic and financial assistance to watershed project sponsors. The permanent base funding should strengthen Agency support for the program, reducing the uncertainty brought on by the “on again/off again” nature of recent watershed program funding patterns. Keep in mind that the regular appropriations process still affords opportunities for additional funds to be directed to the program annually.
The Conference Report adopted language allowing a waiving of the watershed plan if the Secretary determines it is unnecessary or duplicative.
Both the House and the Senate adopted all of NWC’s recommendations for RCPP and these were adopted in the final Conference Report. These included: • Allowing PL-566 across the country and not just in Critical Conservation Areas • Making PL-566 a “covered program” allowing the program regulatory flexibility • Providing funding flexibility • Directing the Secretary to offer a more simplified application process
In addition, RCPP has mandatory funds of $300 million and no longer are these funds linked to certain programs which could make it easier for projects to get funded through RCPP.
Our sincere and gracious thanks to the many NWC members and partners who worked to make the very best of the Farm Bill process for Watershed Project sponsors across the country!
Yesterday, I accepted an invitation from the White House to be on hand as President Trump signed the new Farm Bill into law. I snapped this photo as he officially signed the five-year bill.
My involvement in the Farm Bill process began with our push for better broadband options here in Wise County. As we looked at ways to encourage providers to invest and expand here, we realized that existing USDA rural broadband programs missed an important component: there was no provision for “middle mile” broadband, or the important leg of a broadband network that gets service into rural communities and neighborhoods.
I approached Congressman Mac Thornberry about this issue, and he was very receptive and interested. He then got an amendment for middle mile added to the House version of the Farm Bill, which passed in May.
That provision, however, did not appear in the Senate’s version, but after the two chambers hashed it out over the following months, that broadband language made it into the final bill that landed on the President’s desk.
I know this broadband program will provide great opportunities for rural communities to seek improved Internet service for economic development, education, healthcare, public safety, and quality of life. We look forward to pursuing ways to put it to work right here in Wise County.
The Farm Bill also contains some important provisions for rural development and watershed infrastructure, which are critically important to Wise County.
It was an honor to work for Wise County throughout this process, and it was an incredible opportunity to be invited to see this legislation officially enacted.