Washington State Legislature and Conservation Commission triples resources for local partnership

Conservation Districts see increase in jobs and funds for farmers in the Palouse watershed

palouse conservation district logo

PULLMAN – The Palouse Watershed Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) is helping farmers, landowners, and producers establish voluntary incentive-based conservation practices that enhance producer operations, and improve soil and water quality and wildlife habitat. This year, 61 applicants applied for financial assistance for projects including riparian buffers and filter strips, direct seed and mulch till practices, and offsite water and fencing for livestock. Applications are being ranked by their conservation benefits, and the top quarter or more of these projects will be funded within the year. The Washington State Legislature and the Washington State Conservation Commission have tripled the funds available this year for applicants, which will increase the number of projects that will be funded by up to 250 percent from last year’s count of nine projects that ranked high out of a total of 54 applications.

Senate Majority Leader Mark Schoesler says, “In the past, at times, the Palouse River has run brown. Due to the hard work of landowners, this has changed, and they deserve recognition for their contributions.”

no till in the palouse
RCPP partners in palouse field

Applicants showed an increased interest in implementing riparian buffers this year. Through these funds, the Partners have designed enhanced riparian buffer incentives to assist landowners and land managers financially in building wildlife habitat, restoring soil health, and maintaining water quality across their land by planting their choice of native trees, shrubs, grasses or forbs. Incentives are designed to compensate for loss of ground and production, and to help protect plantings and control weeds. Producers also showed an overwhelming interest in costshare for direct seed or no-till practices, which reduce erosion and fossil fuel usage.

“The landowners that are planning and implementing their conservation systems are taking care of our ‘Palouse’, a national treasure known for its deep, productive soil,” commented Ray Ledgerwood, Conservation Commission Region Manager.

Palouse Conservation District and Partners have also increased local staff to help plan and implement these producer-led projects through a combination of partner, state, and federal Natural Resources Conservation Service funds. Projects are located throughout parts of Whitman, Adams, Lincoln, and Spokane Counties in Washington, and parts of Latah County in Idaho. Eligible applicants will work with RCPP staff over the winter to develop conservation plans and implement projects. Landowners and producers in the Palouse watershed are eligible to sign up with their local Conservation District and are encouraged to call or visit for more details.

Laura Heinse, Conservation Partnership Manager, notes that she is very excited about the great response from local landowners to improve their land and practices.

“The RCPP allows our planners to provide applicants with a bunch of different funding sources, so that applicants can plan more holistically across their land. We are working hard to make sure these funds are going on the ground to turn the dial for conservation in the Palouse watershed.”

To apply for assistance or to learn more, visit your local Conservation District or NRCS office, the Palouse Land Trust Pacific Northwest Direct Seed Association, or call the Palouse Conservation District at 509-332-4101.

About the Palouse Conservation District

The Palouse Conservation District works through voluntary, incentive-based programs to assist landowners and agricultural operators with the conservation of natural resources throughout the district. A volunteer five-member Board of Supervisors along with Associate Supervisors, staff and volunteers carry out District programs and services that benefit both landowners and the environment. The district’s mission is to actively assist current and future generations of land managers (rural and urban) in implementing conservation practices by providing educational, technical, and financial assistance. To learn more, visit http://www.palousecd.org/, or call us at 509-332-4101.