Conservation Innovations Winter 2021 Newsletter

USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service | Conservation Innovations
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USDA Conservation Innovations from the NRCS


CIG winter newsletter

2021 National CIG Notices of Funding Opportunity Coming Soon

The 2021 Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG) Classic and On-Farm Trials (OFT) Notices of Funding Opportunity will be posted this spring to We are looking forward to another slate of innovative proposals!

New for this year, applicants will submit proposals through the NRCS Programs Portal rather than through More information will be included in the CIG NFOs.

2020 CIG National and On-Farm Trials Projects On-Boarding

The national cohorts of 2020 CIG Classic and On-Farm Trials received their Awardee Orientation via a fully remote session in February of 2021. The orientation is designed to ensure that all awardees understand the programmatic and administrative responsibilities associated with carrying out a CIG project. These 38 awardees will be launching their projects in the very near future, if they haven’t already.

Learn more about the 2020 On-Farm Trials awards.

Learn more about 2020 CIG “Classic” awards.

2021 RCPP Alternative Funding Arrangement Funding Opportunity

NRCS is now accepting proposals for RCPP Alternative Funding Arrangements through May 28th, 2021. A webinar for interested partners will be hosted on April 1st at 3pm EDT. For details on how to attend this webinar or how to submit a proposal, please visit the RCPP How to Apply page.

Success Spotlight

Analyzing NRCS’s Role in Conservation Finance


The role of the CIG program is akin to that of a Research and Development arm within a large organization, funneling NRCS funding to entities that evaluate, improve and innovate conservation approaches and technologies. In addition to providing valuable funding, CIG serves as a knowledge hub for both interagency agendas and the general public. Results, and the occasional failure, from two decades of innovation in working lands conservation provide valuable signposts for future projects. With this in mind, a project funded by Walton Family Foundation and led by The Conservation Finance Network and Gordian Knot Strategies is evaluating NRCS’s cohort of CIG-funded conservation finance projects funded between 2015 and 2018. The report is slated for publication in March 2021 and is designed to serve as a guide for funding additional work in the conservation finance landscape. “Conservation finance is a vital tool as long as ecosystem services are largely undervalued,” says Sean Penrith, CEO of Gordian Knot Strategies and one of the lead authors of the forthcoming report. “We need to continue to find ways to mobilize third party capital to put a price on the priceless.”

Read more about CIG-funding conservation finance projects and the forthcoming report on the CIG Success Spotlight page.

The Harry and Laura Nohr Chapter of Trout Unlimited Partners with Local Landowners to Restore Stream Habitat and Provide Recreational Opportunities for the Region

Mary Stanek owns a 240‐acre farm just upstream from the confluence of the Blue River and Sixmile Branch in the northeast corner of Grant County, Wisconsin. These two river systems represent 15 years of partnership with NRCS, the Harry and Laura Nohr Chapter of Trout Unlimited and numerous local landowners. Over 20 miles of stream habitat work has been completed on these systems providing a bounty of recreational opportunities for the local residents and the many out‐of‐state tourists that frequent the area.

Read more about this RCPP success story here. Read about other projects funded by the RCPP program on the RCPP in Action page.

Conservation Innovation in the News

Check out the latest updates from our partners and the media on how RCPP and CIG projects are advancing innovative conservation approaches and technologies.

Alternative Weed Control – We’ll Have an App for That

USDA Awards Grant to Texas A&M to Develop AI-Based Wildlife Monitoring

UH Receives $900K Conservation Innovation Grant

Small Grains Have Big Outcomes for Climate Resilience

Texas NRCS Announces Funding for Innovation Grants

Practical Farmers of Iowa Receives $1.1 Million Grant to Help farmers in Five States Improve Fertilizer and Manure Management with Small Grains

Early Interseeded Cover Crops Could Solve Fall Establishment Issues

Rural Action Sustainable Forestry Program Seeks to Conduct Forest Farming Site Visits

“Bee Better Certified™ Seal” That Tells Consumers Certified Ingredients Are Grown in Ways That Support Bees Gains Traction

Seven-state Coalition Wins Grant to Study Non-lethal Predator Control

RCPP and Ag + Open Space Acquire Together Acquire Agricultural Easements and Implement Conservation Practices to Restore and Protect Farmland.

The Maryland Department of Agriculture and RCPP partner to support Chesapeake Bay Cleanup Goals By Supporting Northern Maryland Livestock Farmers

Recycled Christmas Trees Stabilize Stream Banks thanks to the Palouse Conservation District and RCPP

NRCS Idaho State Conservationist Champions Partnerships to Benefit Conservation

Illinois Soybean Association and Illinois Corn Growers Association team up on the RCPP Precision Conservation Management Program Project

Pilot project pays farmers to keep phosphorus from reaching Lake Champlain

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The Projects Branch administers partner-focused programs including Conservation Innovation Grants, the Regional Conservation Partnership Program, Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program, and the Wetland Mitigation Banking Program. Our goal is to work collaboratively with partners to develop and implement innovative solutions to the nation’s most challenging resource concerns.