Apache County Receives $400,000 from NRCS for Wallow Fire Recovery
Apache County, Town of Eagar, Apache NRCD & AZ NRCS Team Up to Help
SPRINGERVILLE, Ariz. July 14, 2011 – Where hundreds of thousands of acres were consumed by the largest wildfire in Arizona’s history, potential flooding and erosion now linger. To help reduce this flooding danger, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is providing $400,000 of financial help through its Emergency Watershed Protection Program (EWP).
Impacts from a wildfire go beyond burnt vegetation. The potential for severe soil erosion and accelerated water runoff exists after a wildfire due to the lack of plant material to stabilize the soil. Soil erosion and water runoff can cause severe damage to property and pose safety hazards. NRCS is working with Apache County in recovery efforts in the aftermath of the Wallow fire.
Seventy-five percent of the financial assistance is provided through EWP funds, and Apache County, the EWP sponsor, is providing the remaining 25 percent. NRCS administers the EWP Program, which responds to emergencies created by natural disasters, such as wildfires and floods. Funding for the program is provided through emergency congressional appropriations. Additional EWP funds may be available and NRCS will notify the local sponsors and the public if funding becomes available.
“Apache County has been great to work with. As the Sponsor for this project they have done a good job directing NRCS to sites they want assistance with and we can therefore provide our technical knowledge alongside theirs to develop quality EWP plans,” said David Beyman, Arizona NRCS State Construction Engineer.
After NRCS, Apache County and Town of Eagar assessed properties at greatest risk of erosion and flooding, the county selected five communities of priority in the northern wallow fire area; Greer, Southfork, Eagar/Springerville, Nutrioso and Alpine. The county will install several treatments. Some of the most common are sandbags, concrete barriers and ditch clearing/widening to assist in flood control and straw wattles for erosion control.
Sandbags are a simple yet highly effective way to prevent or reduce flood water damage around your home. Properly filled and placed sandbags act as a barrier to divert moving water, surface drainage and sediment around, instead of through, buildings. Through this method does not guarantee a water-tight seal, it does provide effective protection in most situations. Consult the Apache County Flood Preparedness Guide to locate staging areas of sandbags http://www.co.apache.az.us/PDFs/HealthDp/FloodGuide.pdf .
Apache Natural Resource Conservation District (NRCD) is also working during this time of need with agricultural producers of all sizes to replenish feed for livestock. Elk populations have migrated onto agricultural properties due to the wildfire and are eating the feed meant for livestock. Apache NRCD, Arizona Game and Fish Department, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and Arizona Elk Society are joining in this effort. Through generous contributions from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and Arizona Elk Society, $200,000 is being used to buy feed for producers. The deadline for producers to sign-up is July 18, 2011. Contact Sharon Fisher at 928-333-4942 ext. 106.
NRCS is also providing conservation planning to farmers and ranchers who have been impacted or are in close proximity to areas that were affected by the wildfire. Conservation planning is a fundamental starting point for maintaining and improving the natural resources that support a productive and profitable agricultural operation. Following a natural disaster, such as a wildfire, conservation planning can help restore the production of the land.
“NRCS is here to provide technical and financial assistance. The Springerville NRCS field office is working diligently beside farmers and ranchers as well as Apache County to supply the assistance and resources needed to help to protect our communities,” said David Fisher, District Conservationist in the Springerville NRCS field office.
Apache County determines the sites receiving EWP assistance for the northern Wallow fire area, due to their role as program sponsor. For more information about participating in EWP please contact Apache County Engineer, Ferrin Crosby, at (928) 337-7528. Contact your local field office in Springerville at 928-333-4941 for more information in receiving technical assistance on your property. Access pictures of current EWP projects at http://www.flickr.com/photos/nrcsaz/sets/72157627196274610/ .