Idaho and Washington are among 26 states splitting $166 million in emergency watershed funding announced Tuesday by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Nearly $51 million will go to California, Nevada, Oregon, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Idaho and Washington for winter storms, blizzards and flooding.
Washington received $2 million for nine watershed projects, including three in Eastern Washington.
None of Idaho’s funded projects is in North Idaho, Natural Resource Conservation Service officials said Tuesday, because there have been no requests for assistance from the Panhandle.
Funded through the disaster bill signed into law by President Clinton June 12, this round of Emergency Watershed Protection projects includes repair work such as clearing debris-clogged waterways, restoring vegetation and stabilizing riverbanks.
The Spokane Conservation District received $30,000 to repair improvements made last year a mile downstream from the Hangman Valley Golf Course that were redamaged by this year’s flooding.
“Because this year the floods came so soon after last year, the vegetation was not established, so there was some damage we are repairing again and re-establishing the vegetation,” said Chris Bieker of the Natural Resource Conservation Service in Spokane.
Bieker said the NRCS plans to fund several projects in the Cusick area and will send a team of experts there in coming weeks to determine the eligibility of 12 potential project sites.
The Stevens County Conservation District also will receive more than $50,000 for its Gold Creek bank protection and stabilization project west of Colville, Bieker said.
According to Luana Kiger, Idaho NRCS conservationist, the bulk of Idaho’s money will flow into the Payette and Weiser river systems. “At this point, for the snowmelt that started in March, I’ve had no one request assistance from up north,” Kiger said.
That may be because many residents don’t realize there are government agencies other than the Federal Emergency Management Agency that can help with disaster relief, said Pete Wuerpel, FEMA’s Milo Creek project manager in Shoshone County.
“FEMA is not the only source through which funds flow for disaster relief and one of the benefits of the system is multiple agencies have an opportunity to participate,” Wuerpel said.
According to Kiger, USDA money still is available for emergency watershed projects throughout Idaho.
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