USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, 10 East Babcock St, Room 443, Bozeman, MT 59715
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 29, 2011
NRCS Sets Sept. 30 Deadline to Apply for Flood Assistance
BOZEMAN, Mont., July 29, 2011– The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will accept Emergency Watershed Protection program applications for flood recovery assistance until Sept. 30, 2011.
“Montana was ravaged by flood damages this spring, and we have worked with many county, tribal, and conservation district sponsors to assess potential projects for the Emergency Watershed Protection program,” said Joyce Swartzendruber, NRCS state conservationist for Montana. “While we have provided some protection from future events, we want to make sure that all potential sponsors have an opportunity to sign up for the program.”
To date, the NRCS has obligated $1.7 million for emergency flood recovery projects across the state. The Federal agency is working with public and private partners to identify the full scope of flood damage and prepare flood stabilization and protection projects.
The Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) program helps landowners, operators, and individuals implement emergency measures to stabilize damaged sites, protect infrastructure, and prevent future damages by flood water. Eligible practices include the removal of sediment and debris in channels to restore hydraulic capacity; repair of irrigation canals and drainage ditches to restore function; stabilization of slopes and embankments to prevent massive soil erosion and excessive runoff; removal of structures and obstructions that impede or impair the floodplain; disposal of animal carcasses from watercourses; and protection of public and private roads, culverts, and bridges to preserve emergency routes and prevent closures.
The Federal government shares the cost with a project sponsor (usually 75 percent Federal) through a project sponsor agreement. Project sponsors are ultimately responsible for the 25 percent local match, construction cost overruns and long-term maintenance of emergency recovery measures. Project sponsors often ask the direct beneficiaries or individuals to cover these responsibilities through formal side agreements.
EWP assistance must be requested through an eligible project sponsor. A project sponsor can be a state agency or a legal subdivision chartered under state law, which may include the following: cities, counties, soil conservation districts, and irrigation districts. A Native American Tribe or a Tribal organization also can be a project sponsor.
Steve Becker, NRCS state conservation engineer, is aware of the benefits and limitations of the EWP program. “The EWP program presents an opportunity to work with technical specialists to stabilize damaged sites, protect infrastructure, and prevent future damages by flood water,” he said. “However, the program is not a reimbursement program to fund repairs and restore equity in personal property and was not designed to build levees or repair private levees, which are prevalent in many parts of the state.”
The NRCS has worked closely with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) on disaster recovery to ensure their programs complement each other. FEMA has been authorized to provide public assistance through reimbursement to restore capacity and function to public works and public infrastructure. According to Becker, NRCS can work on private property to stabilize and protect infrastructure owned by individuals.
Sponsors can request EWP assistance through NRCS field offices located in each county and tribal reservation. Office locations can be found at www.mt.nrcs.usda.gov/contact/offices/. More information is available on the Web at www.mt.nrcs.usda.gov/technical/eng/ewp/.