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Friday, June 17, 2011

USDA Gives $3 Million to Five Western States for Flood Aid (ContributorNetwork)

According to a press release from the U.S. Department of Agriculture government website, the USDA announced it will be giving $3 million to five western states to provide emergency watershed protection as each are under threat from potential flood damages as record amounts of mountain snowpack melt.

The announcement was made today by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, who said the federal funding would come directly from the USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service. Each state -- Colorado, Idaho, Utah, Wyoming and Montana, -- would be receiving financial and technical assistance in the sum of $600,000 for Emergency Watershed Protection. With this government funding, each state's Natural Resources Conservation Service

Vilsack spoke about the importance of bringing emergency funding to each of the five western states as the threat of potential flooding becomes larger. Vilsack said, "Having the EWP Program funds in advance will help USDA work quickly with local, state and tribal sponsors to provide needed assistance if the snowpack melts rapidly and causes flooding. USDA has long played a vital role in helping state and local governments and communities with water management in this region."

Many states are already bracing for flooding as the snowpack melts. According to the Republic in Greeley, Colo., officials have been forced to close several roads because the Poudre River is continuing to rise to higher than normal water levels. Sen. Mark Udall, R-Colo., said that the funding would go toward removing debris and projects that help prevent soil erosion.

Utah is also preparing for the floods as well. Utah National Guard helicopters helped deliver giant sandbags on Friday to help hold back rising floodwaters after a levee on the Weber River breached Thursday due to melting snowpack in the northern part of the state, according to the Salt Lake Tribune. So far the waters have hit farmland and several homes nearby.

The USDA press release noted the EWP Program works with local governments to bring the assistance to where it's needed and that it helps with all different types conservation efforts during major natural disasters, including floods, wildfires, windstorms, and droughts, and aids directly in protecting both citizens and public and private property. In the case of floods, the funding can help reduce storm water runoff, preventing soil erosion, and removing floating and submerged debris that get caught along river routes.

Rachel Bogart provides an in-depth look at current environmental issues and local Chicago news stories. As a college student from the Chicago suburbs pursuing two science degrees, she applies her knowledge and passion to both topics to garner further public awareness.

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