There are a number of tools used across the country to connect people to land, promote ownership and equity, and preserve community values related to land-use. Community land trusts (CLTs) are one of these tools. Community land trusts are nonprofit, community-based organizations that aim to foster community stewardship of land.
The Upper Colorado River Commission System Conservation Pilot Program (SCPP) will be put on hold after this year. The program has funded 45 fallowing efforts at an average cost of $205 / acre-foot of conserved consumptive use in the first three years. In 2018, ranchers and famers in the upper basin will receive $3.9 million in payments through the program.
The USDA's Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) is accepting applications under the Agricultural Conservation Easements Program (ACEP) for the Agricultural Land Easement (ALE) and the Wetland Reserve Easements (WRE) programs. The deadline for funding in Montana is March 1, 2018. The announced cut-off date for funding consideration in Wyoming is January 26, 2018.
The Upper Colorado River Commission (UCRC) has issued a Request for Proposals to invite users of the Colorado River System water in Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming to submit proposals for Pilot Program water conservation projects. Projects are meant to test methods for saving water that could be part of a drought contingency plan in the Upper Basin of the Colorado River.
Earlier this year, we collaborated with The Trust for Public Land on their Community Futures Community Futures Finance Toolbox project. We conducted research to learn how small and rural communities are becoming more livable, resilient, and vibrant. Our research revealed that communities of all sizes are utilizing innovative tools to leverage their natural resources into a prosperous and sustainable future.
The USDA NRCS has awarded more than $22.6 million to drive innovation in conservation this year. Nationwide in 2017, 33 projects are receiving funding through the Conservation Innovation Grant program. There were a handful of innovative programs funded that are geared to the American West including several conservation finance projects.
The deadlines for local conservation districts and landowners to apply for funds under the Water Quality Grant Program (WQGP) and the Rangeland Health Assessments Program (RHAP), both Wyoming Department of Agriculture funding programs, are coming up in early June. Both programs require projects to have a 30% match, which can be cash or in-kind, and can also be federal funds such as 319 grand funds.