Resource Conservation and Development

To encourage and improve the capability of State and local units of government and local nonprofit organizations in rural areas to plan, develop and carry out programs for resource conservation and development.

Related Programs

Examples of Funded Projects

NRCS and the Two Rivers RC&D Council in Georgia created a program to help utility companies cut maintenance expenses on more than 150,000 acres of utility transmission rights-of- way while protecting and enhancing the environment.

Project WINGS (Wildlife Incentives for Nongame and Game Species) is a utility-based wildlife initiative offering technical and financial incentives to groups and individuals interested in creating wildlife habitat along electrical transmission rights-of-way.

The use of customized management plans prepared by resource management professionals offers WINGS participants an opportunity to transform eroded brush land into productive wildlife lands.

To date, more than 1000 individuals have been awarded corporate grants to convert over 7,000 acres of rights-of- way brush land to productive habitat.

WINGS is a project that can be replicated, and has already been started in South Carolina where it is called Powerful Wildlife.

The Rolling Hills RC&D in partnership with Georgia Department of Human Resources, Department of Family and Children's Services, and Department of Rehabilitative Services has implemented an innovative program called "Wheels to Work" that is helping people get off public assistance (welfare) and back to work.

Many of these individuals who participate are single mothers that have never been independent before, never owned a vehicle, and are unable to obtain credit in order to purchase a vehicle of their own.

The Rolling Hills RC&D Council has placed 110 vehicles with clients in the nine county region.

These individuals are now off of the welfare roles and back to work.

The funding for these clients was obtained through an appropriation from the Georgia General Assembly and the Lieutenant Governor.

Rolling Hills received over $582,000 to purchase vehicles, pay staff, and other needed expenses.

These funds were offset by car donations, assistance from local businesses and partners, and volunteer assistance.

In Idaho homes that lie on the fringe of forests and rangeland face a continuing threat of fire that knows no boundary between private property and wildland.

The West Central Highlands RC&D Council obtained funds to develop a Fire Education Corps.

Five RC&Ds areas contracted with the Student Conservation Association (SCA) to put the Corps together.

Fire Education Corps teams spent the summer of 2001 conducting home safety evaluations and providing homeowners with fire prevention techniques, using the nationally recognized FIREWISE protocol, a program for fire education sponsored by a coalition of state and federal agencies.

The teams concentrated their efforts in interface areas where fires might start and spread to homes that were surrounded by dense dry fuels.

The Northeast Iowa Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D) Council obtained $105,000 for Spectrum Industries, Inc to provide quality vocational training.

Spectrum Industries, Inc., is a wood workshop serving over 135 physically and mentally challenged people from throughout the Northeast Iowa and Southern Minnesota area.

This project has provided quality jobs for persons with disabilities, added value to the lower quality hardwoods in the area, and provided a model that can be replicated anywhere in the United States.

The goal of Spectrum Industries is to have this woodworking program continue to grow in ways that allow individuals to move into competitive jobs, and provide high quality products.

The RC&D Council worked with many different partners to implement the project.

The overall value of the project including grant funds, matching funds, and in-kind contribution is estimated at $300,000 dollars.

The Central Mississippi RC&D Council, City of Carthage, NRCS, MS Department of Environmental Quality, and a group of consulting engineers teamed up to help the City of Carthage meet current water quality standards for the State of Mississippi.

Carthage has a population of4,300and a watershed that drains into the Pearl River.

Wastewater treatment for the city was inadequate to meet new water quality standards.

Expensive options were provided that were not feasible for a small rural town.

Traditional methods needed to meet new water quality standards for the city were estimated to cost $1.8 million, resulting in increased taxes for the local citizens.

Through assistance from the Central Mississippi RC&D Council, another cost- effective alternative was provided to the city.

The alternative was a natural wastewater treatment system costing approximately $650,000.

This system saved the town more than $1.1 million and provides clean water releases into the Pearl River.

The Erie Basin RC&D Council in Ohio has been managing a Revolving Loan Fund for several years.

The success of this ongoing project has resulted in three other RC&D Areas in Ohio establishing revolving loan funds to serve the citizens in their areas.

These revolving loan funds provide money to new and existing businesses primarily in the area of natural resource development.

They are designed to create private sector job opportunities and to boost the economy of an area.

Partnerships were established with USDA Rural Development, local planning agencies and banks in RC&D areas.

Loans have been made to a variety of businesses including a campground in Huron County for improvements which resulted in higher use of the facilities; a company which recycles 1,000,000 pounds of plastic a week which would otherwise be headed for the landfill; and a charter boat service on Lake Erie which is equipped to handle physically and mentally disadvantaged individuals.

These loans have helped businesses in the RC&D areas and have helped create new jobs.

This is a project that can be easily duplicated throughout the country.

In Pennsylvania NRCS, along with seven RC&D Councils, local Conservation Districts, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), and 27 landowners collaborated with solar component suppliers to demonstrate the use of photovoltaic (PV) solar technology on livestock farms.

Twenty-seven solar pump systems were installed on a variety of livestock operations.

The primary objective was to advance the concept of intensive rotational grazing and reduce the need for mechanical harvesting and its inherent consumption of fossil fuels.

Water is available on most Pennsylvania farms, but it is seldom located where it will support properly designed and managed grazing systems.

Therefore it must be moved via pipelines using either gravity or mechanical means.

Water for use in most rotational grazing systems in Pennsylvania generally needs to be pumped.

Since most under-utilized grazing lands are often very remote and at great distances from grid-power sources, alternative energy sources must be used to power the pumps.

Solar arrays proved to be very durable and dependable for production of power to pump water despite Pennsylvania's intermittent overcast skies.

It was found that solar power is a cost effective and a viable alternative to conventional power sources for water pumping in remote areas if it is properly designed, installed, and maintained.

Agency - Department of Agriculture

Established in 1862, the Department of Agriculture serves all Americans through anti-hunger efforts, stewardship of nearly 200 million acres of national forest and rangelands, and through product safety and conservation efforts. The USDA opens markets for American farmers and ranchers and provides food for needy people around the world.

Office - State and field offices of the Natural Resources Conservation Service are listed in Appendix IV of the Catalog.

For loans, contacts should be made with the Rural Development office serving the county in which the RC&D project is located.

Program Accomplishments

Not available.

Uses and Use Restrictions

Technical assistance is available only to RC&D sponsors within areas authorized by the Secretary of Agriculture for assistance.

Technical assistance is available for the planning and installation of approved projects specified in RC&D area plans, for land conservation, water management, community development and environmental enhancement elements.

Eligibility Requirements

Applicant Eligibility

State and local governments and nonprofit organizations with authority to plan or carry out activities relating to resource use and development in multijurisdictional areas.

This program is also available in Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam and Mariana Islands.

Beneficiary Eligibility

State and local governments and nonprofit organizations within areas designated as RC&D areas by the Secretary of Agriculture with authority to plan or carry out activities relating to resource use and development in multijurisdictional areas.


Applicant agency(ies) and nonprofit organizations must document that application is made as a result of official action of the governing body. Applications are honored only from agencies for which applicant eligibility has been established. Costs will be determined in accordance with OMB Circular No. A-87 for State and local governments.

Aplication and Award Process

Preapplication Coordination

This program is eligible for coverage under E.O.

12372, "Intergovernmental Review of Federal Programs." An applicant should consult the office or official designated as the Single Point of Contact in his or her State for more information on the process the State requires to be followed in applying for assistance, if the State has selected the program for review.

This program is excluded from coverage under OMB Circular No.


Application Procedures

Written application must be in the form suggested in the National Resource Conservation and Development Manual. This program is subject to the provisions of OMB Circular No. A-110.

Award Procedures

Details of the procedure are available from State and field offices of the Natural Resources Conservation Service.


October 1.


Public Law 97-98, 95 Stat. 1213.

Range of Approval/Disapproval Time

Indeterminate. Authorization of applications is dependent upon the level of appropriations for the program each year.


Not applicable.


Not applicable.

Assistance Considerations

Formula and Matching Requirements

When financial assistance is available, local or State agencies must provide land rights needed for the installation of all projects. RC&D grant assistance (up to 25 percent not to exceed $50,000 of the total project cost) may be provided for a project. Local or State agencies generally must provide ten percent of the total cost and be responsible for any needed operation and maintenance. Loan assistance may be provided for the local share of project cost.

Length and Time Phasing of Assistance

Not applicable.

Post Assistance Requirements


Periodic inspections and reports are required to insure that structural projects for which Federal financial assistance has been provided are being properly operated and maintained in accordance with agreements.


In accordance with the provisions of 7 CFR Part 3052, "Audits of States, Local Governments, and Nonprofit Organizations," which implement OMB Circular No. A-133 (Revised, June 27, 2003), "Audits of States, Local Governments, and Non-Profit Organizations," nonfederal entities that expend financial assistance of $500,000 or more in Federal awards will have a single or a program-specific audit conducted for that year. Nonfederal entities that expend less than $500,000 a year in Federal awards are exempt from Federal audit requirements for that year, except as noted in 7 CFR 3052.



Financial Information

Account Identification



(Salaries and Expenses) FY 07 $25,933,000; FY 08 est not available; and FY 09 est not reported.

Range and Average of Financial Assistance

Not available.

Regulations, Guidelines, and Literature

"Assistance available from the Natural Resources Conservation Service," AIB-345; "Resource Conservation and Development Manual, 390 - V, Third Ed.

Information Contacts

Regional or Local Office

State and field offices of the Natural Resources Conservation Service are listed in Appendix IV of the Catalog. For loans, contacts should be made with the Rural Development office serving the county in which the RC&D project is located.

Headquarters Office

Deputy Chief for Programs, Resource Conservation and Community Development Division, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Department of Agriculture, P.O. Box 2890, Washington, DC 20013. Telephone: (202) 720-2847.

Criteria for Selecting Proposals

Proposals for projects are judged on relevance of the project to the individual RC&D's area plan goals and objectives. Criteria for setting priorities are usually published in the RC&D area plan or are available from the local sponsors of the RC&D area. Proposals for projects should be submitted to the local USDA designated RC&D area. If an area does not exist, contact the field or state office of the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Vertical farms are designed in a way to avoid the pressing issues about growing food crops in drought-and-disease-prone fields miles away from the population centers in which they will be consumed.

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