Secretary Vilsack Announces Two Conservation Programs

Indiana trip unveils two major announcements.

The Secretary of Agriculture's visit to Terre Haute, Indiana, Tuesday means millions of dollars for flood easements and flood recovery projects across the United States. It also meant that the end is finally in sight for a project to protect part of Terre Haute from flooding. The project began two decades ago.


"We're excited that he's here and that he made the announcement," says Jane Hardisty, state soil conservationist with the Natural Resource Conservation Service in Indiana. "The money is here and we're ready to go again on this final phase. Before this announcement, we had run out of money to finish this critical phase."


Some 1,300 acres of farm ground, nearly 400 homes and 190 businesses will be protected once the project is complete. Basically, physical structures that will be constructed will allow water to be diverted during heavy rain events, instead of creating flooding problems.


Vilsack stood before a crowd of about 100 people gathered at the edge of Honey Creek and the 7th Street Bridge on the outer limits of Terre Haute. Altogether, some $45 million is being released nationwide for these kinds of projects as part of the Rehabilitation and Recovery Act, Vilsack said. The Honey Creek project alone will receive $3.3 million.


The second part of his announcement related to flood easements. Some 145 million is now available nationwide for this purpose. About $8.1 million will be used in Indiana by 13 landowners, he noted. More than 200 applied, Hardisty says.


One of the successful landowners was Don Osborne. He and his mother, Judy, attended the event and met with the Secretary. They're committing more than 100 acres of floodplain along the Wabash River near the Knox and Gibson County line in southwest Indiana to the project.


"We'll be planting trees there," Don explains. "We had to give up a small amount of high ground to make it work out, but it's worth it."


Last year's devastating flood, which ironically happened nearly one year ago, on June 7, in central Indiana made the need for such programs more apparent, Hardisty notes.

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