United States Code

USC most recently checked for updates: Jul 18, 2024

§ 3871f.
Critical conservation areas
(a)
Definitions
In this section:
(1)
Critical conservation area

The term “critical conservation area” means a geographical area that contains a critical conservation condition that can be addressed through the program.

(2)
Priority resource concern
The term “priority resource concern” means a natural resource concern located in a critical conservation area that can be addressed through—
(A)
water quality improvement, including through reducing erosion, promoting sediment control, and addressing nutrient management activities affecting large bodies of water of regional, national, or international significance;
(B)
water quantity improvement, including improvement relating to—
(i)
drought;
(ii)
groundwater, surface water, aquifer, or other water sources; or
(iii)
water retention and flood prevention;
(C)
wildlife habitat restoration to address species of concern at a Federal, State, or local level; and
(D)
other natural resource improvements, as determined by the Secretary, within the critical conservation area.
(b)
Applications

In administering funds under section 3871d(d)(2) of this title, the Secretary shall select applications for partnership agreements and program contracts within critical conservation areas designated under this section that address 1 or more priority resource concerns for which the critical conservation area is designated.

(c)
Critical conservation area designations
(1)
In general

The Secretary shall identify 1 or more priority resource concerns that apply to each critical conservation area designated under this section after February 7, 2014, including the conservation goals and outcomes sufficient to demonstrate that progress is being made to address the priority resource concern.

(2)
Priority
In designating critical conservation areas under this section, the Secretary shall give priority to geographical areas based on the degree to which the geographical area—
(A)
includes multiple States with significant agricultural production;
(B)
is covered by an existing regional, State, binational, or multistate agreement or plan that has established objectives, goals, and work plans and is adopted by a Federal, State, or regional authority;
(C)
contains 1 or more priority resource concerns; or
(D)
contains producers that need assistance in meeting or avoiding the need for a natural resource regulatory requirement that could have a negative impact on the economic scope of the agricultural operations within the area.
(3)
Review and withdrawal
The Secretary may—
(A)
review designations of critical conservation areas under this section not more frequently than once every 5 years; and
(B)
withdraw designation of a critical conservation area only if the Secretary determines that the area is no longer a critical conservation area.
(4)
Limitation

The Secretary may not designate more than 8 geographical areas as critical conservation areas under this section.

(d)
Outreach to eligible partners and producers

The Secretary shall provide outreach and education to eligible partners and producers in critical conservation areas designated under this section to encourage the development of projects to address each priority resource concern identified by the Secretary for that critical conservation area.

(e)
Administration
(1)
In general

Except as provided in paragraph (2), the Secretary shall administer any partnership agreement or program contract under this section in a manner that is consistent with the terms of the program.

(2)
Relationship to existing activity

The Secretary shall, to the maximum extent practicable, ensure that eligible activities carried out in critical conservation areas designated under this section complement and are consistent with other Federal and State programs and water quality and quantity strategies.

(Pub. L. 99–198, title XII, § 1271F, as added Pub. L. 113–79, title II, § 2401, Feb. 7, 2014, 128 Stat. 750; amended Pub. L. 115–334, title II, § 2707, Dec. 20, 2018, 132 Stat. 4600.)
cite as: 16 USC 3871f