U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced up to $252 million dollars for the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) for locally driven, public-private partnerships to improve the nation's water quality, combat drought, enhance soil health, support wildlife habitat and protect agricultural viability. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will facilitate the matching grant program, USDA said in a release.

"Through unprecedented collaboration, the Regional Conservation Partnership Program has established a new paradigm for working lands conservation that yields unparalleled results,” Vilsack said in a statement. “Working together, RCPP projects in every state are demonstrating the ways in which locally-led initiatives can meet some of our most pressing natural resource concerns."

USDA said the RCPP connects partners with producers and private landowners to design and implement voluntary conservation solutions that benefit natural resources, agriculture and the economy. By 2018, the department said it expects its more than 2,000 conservation partners will have invested at least $2.4 billion in high-impact RCPP projects nationwide.

Eligible applicants may include colleges and universities, for-profit organizations, nonprofit organizations, state, local, Native American governments, water districts and universities, among others.

Pre-proposals are due April 21. For more information, visit http://bit.ly/2js6GZB.