USDA Will Restore and Protect Flood-Prone Lands With Economic Recovery Funding

HARRISBURG, PA — (Marketwire) — 03/12/09 — The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)will provide up to $145 million to eligible landowners nationwide throughthe floodplain easement component of its Emergency Watershed Protection(EWP) Program. The funds will be used to restore an estimated 60,000 acresof frequently flooded land to its natural state and create jobs.

“We will be working with landowners who voluntarily agree to restore thefloodplains to their natural condition by placing their land intoeasements,” said Gary Smith, Pennsylvania Natural Resources ConservationService (NRCS) Assistant State Conservationist. “Eligible landownersthroughout Pennsylvania can sign up for these easements now through March27, 2009 at their local NRCS field office.”

Eligible lands are those in all watersheds that meet the followingcriteria:

Landowners who are interested in having mill dams removed, or who are inthe emergency action plan area for land and buildings downstream of anydam, may be eligible to apply. Land does not have to have buildings orstructures on it to be eligible.

The funding, obtained from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of2009, includes both technical and financial assistance to restore theeasements. All funds will be spent on targeted projects that can becompleted with economic stimulus monies. The goal is to have all floodplaineasements acquired and restored within 12-18 months. No more than $30million can be spent in any one state.

The restored floodplains will generate many public benefits, such asincreased flood protection, enhanced fish and wildlife habitat, improvedwater quality, and a reduced need for future public disaster assistance.Other benefits include reduced energy consumption when certain agriculturalactivities and practices are eliminated and increased carbon sequestrationas permanent vegetative cover is re-established.

USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

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