Conservation Innovations Newsletter

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


2022 Conservation Innovation Grants Funding Opportunities Coming this Summer

The national Conservation Innovation Grant programs anticipate the release of their annual funding announcements early this summer. The announcements will be posted to and to the NRCS CIG webpage.  Applications will be accepted via

In 2022, 28 states elected to host state-level Conservation Innovation Grant competitions, offering more than $10 million to provide localized opportunities to support innovation in conjunction with agricultural production. Individuals can learn more about State CIG opportunities and awards by visiting their state’s NRCS website.

USDA to Invest up to $225 Million in Partner-Driven Conservation on Agricultural and Forest Land

On January 13, 2022, NRCS announced up to $225 million in available funding for conservation partners through the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP).  This year’s funding announcement included prioritization for projects that address climate change, benefit historically undeserved producers and support urban agriculture. USDA accepted proposals for both RCPP Classic and RCPP AFA through April 13, 2022. NRCS anticipates making RCPP funding announcements in August 2022.

Read more.


Success Spotlight

Monitoring Wildlife, Empowering Producers in Texas

In 2020, Texas A&M University was awarded a $694,167 Conservation Innovation Grant for a project titled Automated Wildlife Monitoring.  Working with University California Santa Barbara and University of Hawaii, the team aimed to integrate camera, image, and sensor technology to monitor difficult-to-observe wildlife, empowering producers and scientists with accessible and timely data about the effects of wildlife conservation efforts and other land use decisions.

As of April 2022, the team had deployed prototypes at California and Costa Rica partner sites; executed an experiment to demonstrate novel ways to train machine learning for the monitoring devices; tested radio network transmission at four sites; begun detection experiments for pollinators; and presented both at a major global conference and to the public and local stakeholders.

The team is also leveraging partnerships beyond the scope of the original project. This spring, researchers received a call from a non-profit, Texas Water Trade, who had located the project by researching NRCS award announcements.  The team requested assistance setting up machine detection to monitor and count wildlife abundance in Texas wetlands.  Utilizing existing open-source technology, Field Data Technologies, a non-profit created to promote and implement the USDA CIG-funded open-source technology, spent a week in Galveston Bay setting up automated systems as part of a conservation experiment to assess the impact of environmental water release.  This new non-profit and university partnership is thrilled to report that funding received from NRCS is creating unexpected opportunities for cross-pollination and teamwork.

For more information about this project, including awardee contact information, visit Texas A&M’s 2020 story highlighting their award.

More than 12,000 Forest Acres Permanently Protected from Development in Western Maine

A coalition of conservation groups, private landowners and an urban drinking water utility announced in December 2021 that 12,000 acres of forestland in Oxford County, Maine has been permanently protected from development with a conservation easement. The easement was partially funded through NRCS’s Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). The Portland (ME) Water District is the RCPP project’s lead partner. More than half of the protected lands filter water into Sebago Lake, the public drinking water supply for much of southern Maine. The project is considered a significant milestone to protect water quality, wildlife and recreation.

Philanthropists Mary McFadden and Larry Stifler, owners of the Mineral and Gem Museum in Bethel, began acquiring the parcels in the 1970s.

"We are thrilled, not just that this property is going to be conserved but we like to pat ourselves on the back and think that over 40 years we've been a role model for other people to begin to think that this is possible and now we're going to preserve a whole lot of land in this county," Stifler said.

Read the full story written by Susan Sharon with Maine Public Radio.

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.

Visit CIG online

Email the CIG program:

Visit RCPP online

Email the RCPP program:



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.