A new Natural Resource Conservation Service program aims to grant funds to projects designed by local entities.
The Regional Conservation Partnership Program includes work toward habitat safety, water quality and soil health.
Anthony Nott is the NRCS's acting state conservationist in Kentucky. He says the program's local focus should help address communities' specific needs.
“This allows some of our partners really to shape our programs. They come to the table with the idea [of] what they want to do. They have the local input,” Nott said.
“They know what resource concerns they want to address with our practices.”
Nott says it's not only small-scale projects that will be funded; regional and multi-state efforts will be considered as well.
Eligible partners include private companies, universities and local governments.
The RCPP will allocate $1.2 billion over its 5-year run.
$400 million will be spent in 2014 alone.
In a press release, the USDA said over 660,000 US jobs were supported by conservation efforts last year.
Nott says the NRCS is currently accepting proposals; pre-proposals are due July 14 and full proposals are due September 26.