August 5, 2008

California Receives $3.6 Million to Aid Fire-Damaged Communities


Contact: Anita Brown, +1-530-792-5644, or Bill Ward, +1-530-792- 5616, both of NRCS

DAVIS, Calif., Aug. 5 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in California will receive an initial allotment of $3.6 million in Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) funds. NRCS will use the money to move forward in helping communities that have suffered from wildfires during the past year to make needed natural resource repairs to watersheds.

The money comes from a recently-released federal supplemental spending bill aimed at helping Midwest states ravaged by recent flooding. However, it also provides funding to cover about $140 million in EWP projects nationwide, including California wildfires.

"California has been working with fire-damaged communities to survey damages to the watersheds and certify eligible projects and all of these projects are deserving and qualify for help. We have been anticipating these funds and they are greatly needed," says NRCS State Conservationist Ed Burton. "It is important to help our Sponsors complete these projects now before next winter's storms have a chance to do significant damage to the properties at risk."

The following California projects will be funded with this initial allotment:

-- Angora Fire South Lake Tahoe, El Dorado County-Estimated Cost $80,000

-- Catalina Island Wildfire, Catalina Island, Los Angeles County- Estimated Cost $1.6 million

-- Santiago Fire, Harding Canyon, Orange County-Estimated Cost $200,000

-- Santa Anita Fire, Sierra Madre, Los Angeles County-Estimated Cost $2.15 million

California NRCS is continuing to work on damage survey reports associated with more recent wildfires to determine anew the emergency funding needs across the state that could be addressed by the EWP program.

The EWP program provides technical and financial assistance to address public safety and restoration efforts on private, public and tribal lands. Through sponsored partnerships NRCS can pay up to 75 percent of the cost of removing debris from stream channels, road culverts and bridges; protecting eroded streambanks; correcting damaged drainways; and reseeding damaged areas.

Local sponsors may include city, county or state governments, Indian tribes, resource conservation districts, U.S. Forest Service or watershed authorities. Sponsors must secure 25 percent of the costs in cash or approved in-kind contributions. Additional information about EWP is available programs/ewp.


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