Several Minnesota counties including Kanabec, Pine, Mille Lacs and Carlton are in a unique position to provide habitat for a declining songbird species— and the USDA is providing financial support for landowners to do so. 

Landowners are encouraged to apply for financial assistance to complete conservation activities under two projects in Minnesota: one by the American Bird Conservancy to improve forest health and habitat for golden-winged warblers (Project ID #2245); and a Minnesota Department of Agriculture Water Quality Certification Program (Project ID #2129). Applications are due Dec. 17, 2021.

Project 1: Warbler Habitat (Project ID #2245)

This project lead by the American Bird Conservancy will enhance and maintain habitat for the golden-winged warbler. The warbler is listed by the U.S. Department of the Interior as a Species of Greatest Conservation Need. 

According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, golden-winged warblers have had a population decline of almost 2.5% per year between 1966 and 2014—amounting to an overall decline of 68%. They now have one of the smallest populations of any bird not on the endangered species list. Minnesota has the highest remaining density of golden-winged warblers, with about half the global population.

Conservation activities could range from forest stand improvement, prescribed burns and fish and wildlife habitat management plans. 

Participating counties include: Beltrami, Itasca, St. Louis, Cass, Becker, Hubbard, Crow Wing, Carlton, Pine, Mille Lacs, Lake of the Woods, Clearwater, Wadena, Roseau, Lake, Kanabec, Morrison, Koochiching, Aitkin, Mahnomen.

To apply, landowners should contact their local USDA Service Center. Applications are due by Dec. 17, 2021.

Project 2: Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program 

The project will be used to support the Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program, which is a voluntary approach for producers and agricultural landowners to become certified through a whole-farm evaluation that assesses the operation’s risk to water quality and management of that risk. 

Producers that demonstrate superior water quality conservation management receive certification by the State of Minnesota and receive regulatory certainty for the duration of their ten-year certification, which stipulates they are deemed to be in compliance with any new state water quality laws and rules which take effect during the certification period.  

To apply, landowners should contact their local USDA Service Center. Applications are due by Dec. 17, 2021.

About the RCPP

The Regional Conservation Partnership Program offers new opportunities for the NRCS, conservation partners, and agricultural producers to work together to harness innovation, expand the conservation mission, and demonstrate the value and efficacy of voluntary, private lands conservation. Applicants for RCPP must qualify for USDA NRCS Farm Bill programs.


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