DAVIS, Calif., Sept. 1, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In the wake of recent California fires, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Farm Service Agency (FSA) staffs in California are meeting with landowners and Agencies to assess damages and offer technical and financial assistance where possible.
Assistance programs through NRCS include the Emergency Watershed Protection Program (EWP), and the Environmental Quality Incentives Program's (EQIP) Catastrophic Fire Recovery assistance; FSA provides the Environmental Conservation Program (ECP).
"EWP allows us to provide immediate assistance to communities to mitigate potential hazards to life and property resulting from the fires," said Carlos Suarez, NRCS California state conservationist. "It is work we can do with a local sponsor to help a damaged watershed channel water and mitigate erosion so that lives and property are protected and additional hardships are not heaped upon the devastated community."
With the high potential for winter rains, burned areas are at greater risk for erosion and mudflows and EWP-type services are key to preventing further damage. The program requires local government bodies or others to sponsor on-the-ground work including concrete barriers and debris basins, mulching, straw wattles and other damage control measures.
To date, NRCS has requested assistance for the City of Duarte to make watershed repairs related to the San Gabriel Complex fire. This request has been forwarded to Washington, D.C. for approval. EWP-related assessments and discussions are also underway relative to the Sand Fire in Los Angeles County and the Soberanes Fire in Monterey County. Other potential sponsors seeking assistance should do so through their local USDA service center http://offices.sc.egov.usda.gov/locator/app?state=CA.
Landowner Technical Assistance
NRCS may also be able to provide technical and educational assistance to fire-impacted landowners faced with erosion and flooding in a damaged watershed. Agency conservationists have expertise in erosion, hydrophobic soils and the use of measures (such as sand bags, mulching etc.) to mitigate damage to the landscape. Agency staff are helping to coordinate a public workshop in the area of the Soberanes Fire in mid September.
EQIP and ECP programs can provide long-term support to repair livestock fencing, remove dead or dying trees, clear dense brush, install new livestock water facilities, and other agricultural services. Both NRCS and FSA are taking applications and encourage interested landowners to contact their local offices for more information.
"FSA has a number of programs to help wildfire-impacted producers get back on their feet," said Oscar Gonzales, FSA executive director in California. "I want to encourage farmers and ranchers to contact their local FSA office to find out about resources available to them."
For more information on available NRCS or FSA assistance, contact a local field office, or visit www.usda.gov.
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SOURCE USDA - Natural Resources Conservation Service