Watershed protection initiative helps 15 states affected by natural disasters

The USDA will send an additional $66.8 million in Emergency Watershed Protection Program funds to help disaster recovery efforts in 15 states.

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 13, 2013 -- Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service will send an additional $66.8 million in Emergency Watershed Protection Program funds to help disaster recovery efforts in 15 states.

"This funding will help communities implement much needed recovery projects to address watersheds damage caused by floods, drought, hurricanes and other natural disasters that occurred in 2012 and 2013," Vilsack said. "President Obama and USDA are committed to helping repair and rebuild rural communities so hardworking farmers and ranchers can ensure American agriculture remains a bright spot in our nation's economy."

NRCS's Emergency Watershed Program has successfully helped many communities recover from previous natural disasters across the country by providing on-site technical and financial assistance. This money will help implement all requested recovery projects that were in presidentially declared disaster areas. Examples of conditions qualifying for assistance include: debris-clogged stream channels, undermined and unstable stream banks, jeopardized water control structures and public infrastructures, and wind-borne debris removal.

The largest portion of the funds announced will go to Colorado, which will receive more than $19 million for recovery from one of the worst fire seasons in the state's history. In 2012, more than 200,000 acres burned, taking more than 600 homes and other structures with them.

Florida, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, New York, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah, Wisconsin, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, New Mexico and Ohio will receive the rest of the funds.

In addition to this recovery funding, NRCS is responding to the recent Oklahoma tornados and has already allocated about $500,000 in emergency funding to begin work on sites that pose significant hazards.

NRCS already allocated $5.6 million in recovery money to Hurricane Sandy states and will have up to $165.4 million more this summer for floodplain easements. EWP can provide funding for purchasing floodplain easements in areas consistently prone to flooding. Permanently protecting floodplains can restore natural flood buffers, conserve fish and wildlife habitat and improve water quality, while safeguarding lives and property from floods, drought and erosion.

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