Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns has announced $6.9 million in Emergency Watershed Protection Program (EWP) funding to help southern California recover from recent severe storms and flooding.



"The Bush Administration has made prevention efforts and assisting the long-term recovery in areas impacted by devastating natural disasters a priority," said Johanns. "These emergency funds will provide technical and financial assistance to help restore damaged watersheds and rebuild local communities."



Severe storms and an unusually wet season for California caused flooding and unstable hillsides to collapse in landslides and significant mudflows. Areas previously burned by wildfires have been especially vulnerable. The funds announced today will be dedicated to two projects in Ventura County that need immediate attention: along Santa Paula Creek, and the Santa Paula Airport where there is significant infrastructure damage. This is in addition to $1.2 million for emergency environmental restoration work in California that USDA provided last month.



Through EWP, USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service works with local project sponsors to help people reduce imminent hazards to life and property caused by floods, fires, drought, earthquakes, tornados and other natural disasters.



Rehabilitation efforts will provide sound erosion control measures that are economically and environmentally defensible. EWP measures include removing debris, reshaping and protecting eroding banks, repairing levees and reseeding damaged areas.



Information on NRCS natural disaster assistance in California can be found on the Web at http://www.ca.nrcs.usda.gov and on EWP at http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/EWP.



Source: Government Release