USDA will be sending $84.8 million to state and local governments to improve water quality, increase water supply, decrease soil erosion, and improve fish and wildlife habitat in rural communities. These funds are provided for as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and go toward 55 projects in 20 states. In making the announcement Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said major benefits include improved community safety and health, flood mitigation, sediment control, and enhanced fish and wildlife habitat.
"These are all partnerships; partnerships in these projects is what makes them successful," Vilsack said. "NRCS has worked closely with local sponsors to identify projects that are ready right now for implementation."
Vilsack says the Natural Resources Conservation Service will be directing technical and financial assistance to get these projects underway. These projects are expected to create more than 1400 jobs within local communities.
NRCS Chief Dave White said choosing projects that could be completed by October of 2010 was a factor in the selection of the projects.
"One of the key things was the timing, 'can we get the work done by then'," White said. "We were looking for the highest environmental benefits and the economic benefits; where could we get the maximum benefits on the local economies.