Oliver farm pictured above.

RCPP Funding Renewal Targets Local Ag Land

February 19, 2021

Last fall, GVLT successfully applied to renew Gallatin Regional Partnership Program (Gallatin RCPP) funding through the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to the tune of $3.8 million. The Gallatin RCPP is an alliance of 17 local groups led by GVLT. Members of the group include the City of Bozeman, Gallatin County, Montana Association of Land Trusts, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, Trout Unlimited, and many more organizations.

In 2015, this partnership was selected from over 600 proposals nationwide and was awarded $3.8 million in federal conservation dollars through the NRCS. Over 97% of the funding went directly to private landowners who voluntarily elected to implement private land conservation strategies on their land in the Gallatin Valley.

In our first round of funding, we leveraged the RCPP dollars to acquire seven conservation easements totaling over 2,600 acres protected in perpetuity and completed six land stewardship projects in partnership with landowners and the NRCS. This first RCPP project allocation produced $21 million in total conservation value, providing a 5 to 1 match.

This award creates a special pool of money for landowners in the Gallatin Valley to access the NRCS’s Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) and Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) and has helped secure conservation easements like the ones at Kamps Seed Farm, LF Dairy, and the Oliver Family Farm. Kamps Seed and LF Dairy are located in the Amsterdam-Churchill area which is under constant threat of development. The Oliver Family Farm is one of the biggest agricultural properties remaining in the Gooch Hill area and has been in agricultural production by the Oliver family since the 1920s. Thanks to the RCPP, these easements will prevent additional development and protect the farms’ prime agricultural soils and scenic value.

The Montana NRCS is a critical partner in these conservation efforts. NRCS has more than doubled their investment in the Gallatin Valley since 2015, which has been used to match funds from the Gallatin County Open Lands Program to conserve important properties across the county.  Now, we are thrilled to put this additional $3.8 million to good use with our NRCS landowners to continue protecting prime agricultural soils, wildlife, water quality, and scenic viewsheds the entire community can enjoy.

We are grateful for our partnership with the NRCS, our landowners, and our community, and look forward to discovering more of the focused work we can achieve together.