USDA sets aside $31.5 million for Irene and Lee disaster aid in NYS

Today, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), a division of the US Department of Agriculture, announced that it is setting aside $31.5 million in disaster aid for projects sponsored by local town, city, county or tribal governments in New York State.

From a press release from the NRCS:

In New York, the Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) program has $31.5 million available to local units of government for addressing public safety and restoration efforts on public, private and Tribal lands. When funding is allocated to a project, NRCS works with a project sponsor to contract the heavy construction work, spurring creation of jobs. Typical projects funded under EWP include the protection of threatened infrastructure from continued streambank erosion and stream down-cutting.

“We look forward to working with the local sponsors to restore these critical natural resource systems and help make these communities whole again,” said Peter Wright, EWP Program Manger. He gave the assurance that NRCS’s interdisciplinary teams would follow Federal law in evaluating the possible impacts the work might have on natural resources, cultural resources and the socioeconomic effects associated with the possible alternatives.

Local sponsors, such as a city, town, county, or Tribe may apply for assistance. EWP funding bears up to 75 percent of the construction costs. The remaining 25 percent must be obtained by the local sponsor and can be in the form of cash or in-kind services. Local units of government interested in applying for the funding are encouraged to submit a letter of request by January 31, 2012.

Towns and counties that want to apply for the funding have just a few weeks to send a letter. But NRCS has already done most of the work for them. Here's a draft letter available for download on their website:

Sample Application for Ewp Assistance Letter