Second Year of Stewardship Funding Opens for Georgia Landowners

Oct 4, 2022

The U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) announced this week that a sign-up deadline of November 4, 2022 has been set for the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). Applications for financial and technical assistance for interested St. Marks and Aucilla Basin property owners are now open.

In 2021, Tall Timbers was awarded funding by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to help provide both financial and technical assistance to St. Marks and Aucilla basin property owners in North Florida and South Georgia. This funding was awarded through the NRCS RCPP and, after a successful year, has opened again for interested landowners.

This partner-driven effort leverages public and private funds to benefit natural resources on private lands and lasts for five years. The cost-share assistance will help landowners of non-industrial forestland in the St. Marks and Aucilla River Basins within Leon, Jefferson, Wakulla, Madison and Taylor counties in Florida, and portions of Brooks, Thomas and Grady counties in Georgia. This includes efforts aimed at prescribed fire implementation, longleaf pine establishment, timber stand improvements, invasive plant treatment, and wildlife habitat improvement. As part of a larger initiative to conserve natural resources within these basins, Tall Timbers also partners with the Golden Triangle Resource Conservation and Development Council, Suwannee River Water Management District, Aucilla Research Institute, Apalachee Audubon Society, Wakulla Environmental Institute, St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, and a number of individual private landowners in the Red Hills area to meet these goals.

A stand of recently-burned longleaf pine. This stand, and many others like it, will benefit from additional prescribed burns funded through this
project. Photo by Peter Kleinhenz.

Rebecca Armstrong, the RCPP Biologist with Tall Timbers, says this funding helps to preserve these areas’ beauty and importance: “The Aucilla and St. Marks watersheds contain some of the most unique and beautiful natural areas in North Florida and South Georgia. So many landowners in the area are committed to managing and conserving their properties for future generations. We look forward to assisting even more landowners in achieving their stewardship goals through the RCPP program.”

Georgia landowners in the watershed areas must submit their applications by November 4, 2022. Tall Timbers staff members are eager to meet with interested landowners to discuss their specific land stewardship needs, assess property conditions, offer guidance on completing the RCPP application process, and provide advice as needed. Applications will be evaluated for funding based on local, state, and nationally developed criteria for optimizing environmental benefits. Landowners ranking highest in a funding category will receive cost-share funding according to priority and are subject to the availability of program funds. While funding decisions come directly from NRCS, Tall Timbers staff are available to guide landowners through the application and project implementation processes, as needed.

Peter Kleinhenz, the Partnerships Program Coordinator for Tall Timbers, says, “It has been remarkable to see the interest in land management activities like prescribed burning and longleaf pine planting among landowners in our project area. The Tall Timbers RCPP team looks forward to working with even more landowners this cycle to get land management implemented that will improve our landscapes for people and wildlife.”

Private landowners interested in receiving RCPP cost-share funding for land stewardship activities can contact Tyler Macmillan at tmacmillan@talltimbers.org or Peter Kleinhenz at pkleinhenz@talltimbers.org.

Map of areas in Georgia eligible for RCPP funding.

About the Author
Tyler Macmillan
Tyler joined the Tall Timbers team immediately after retiring from 32-year career with the Northwest Florida Water Management District. Tyler is currently focused on stewardship for private lands in the Aucilla and St. Marks River watersheds in South Georgia and North Florida. Tyler enjoys fishing, boating and hunting in Florida and at a family cottage in Ontario, Canada.
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