Louisiana - American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act)
Staff Contact: Britt Paul, Assistant State Conservationist for Water Resources
Phone:(318) 473-7756; Fax: (318) 473-7747
The Recovery Act was signed into law by President Obama on February 17th, 2009. It is an unprecedented effort to jumpstart our economy, create or save millions of jobs, and put a down payment on addressing long-neglected challenges so our country can thrive in the 21st century. The Act is an extraordinary response to a crisis unlike any since the Great Depression, and includes measures to modernize our nation's infrastructure, enhance energy independence, expand educational opportunities, preserve and improve affordable health care, provide tax relief, and protect those in greatest need. Learn more on recovery.gov
NRCS Recovery Act programs provide the greatest public and environmental benefits through floodplain easements and investments in watershed infrastructure improvements. Watershed rehabilitation projects will mitigate the risks of failure and threats to public safety posed by aging flood control infrastructure. Potential projects are being evaluated and specific information will be posted as implementation proceeds.
The authority for rehabilitation of aging watershed dams is included in section 14 of the Watershed Protection and Flood Prevention Act (PL 83-566). Any of the over 11,000 dams in 47 states that were constructed under the four watershed programs (PL-534, PL-566, Pilot, or RC&D) are eligible for assistance under this authority. Many of these dams are nearing the end of their 50-year design life. Rehabilitation of these dams is needed to address critical public health and safety issues in these communities. Priority for funding of projects is based on a priority ranking system that considers the condition of the dam and number of people at risk if the dam should fail. NRCS may provide technical assistance and 65% of the total rehabilitation project cost. (Additional Louisiana Watershed Rehabilitation Information)
Funding Provided: $30,000,000 maximum for any one state
Floodplain easements restore, protect, maintain, and enhance the functions of the floodplain; conserve natural values including fish and wildlife habitat, water quality, flood water retention, ground water recharge, and open space; reduce long-term federal disaster assistance; and safeguard lives and property from floods, drought, and the products of erosion. NRCS may purchase easements on floodplain lands that meet program criteria. Purchases are based upon established priorities. The easement provides NRCS with the authority to restore and enhance the floodplain’s functions and values. Landowners retain several rights to the property, including quiet enjoyment, the right to control public access, and the right to undeveloped recreational use such as hunting and fishing. (Additional Louisiana Floodplain Easements Information (EWP))
NEWS...Floodplain Easements Announced for Louisiana
United States Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that two Louisiana floodplain easement applications have been selected for funding under the Recovery Act of 2009. The easements will cover 710 acres in Tensas Parish and 341 acres in Richland Parish. As a result of this $1,798,528 investment, about 300,000 hardwood trees will be planted. These trees will reduce the loss of future commodity crops by removing the land from crop production, and will help restore the habitat of the threatened Louisiana black bear.
Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu stated, "Our farmers suffered a devastating loss when Hurricanes Gustav and Ike ripped through the state last year. This investment in North Louisiana will help protect our agricultural communities from the risks of future flooding. This funding will also help restore our natural habitat in Tensas and Richland."
"Louisiana's two floodplain easement projects will provide a valuable tool for restoring floodplain functions and values as well as native habitat," said Louisiana Natural Resources Conservation Service State Conservationist Kevin Norton. "These projects will provide a voluntary option for landowners to remove cropland from production on lands that have suffered from historic and recent floods."
Recovery Act Funding In Louisiana
$4,470,000 from Recovery Act for Implementation of Two Louisiana Watershed Projects
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced on April 16, 2009, that the USDA will be sending $4,470,000 to Louisiana state and local governments to improve water quality, increase water supply, decrease soil erosion, and improve fish and wildlife habitat in rural communities as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009.
Major benefits include improved community safety and health, sediment control, and enhanced fish and wildlife habitat. ARRA funds will be used in Red Bayou and Bayou Duralde-Lower Nezpique Watersheds in Louisiana to develop conservation measures such as planting vegetative cover and creating shallow water ponds to improve wildlife habitat, improving irrigation efficiency and conserving water, installing filter strips and soil erosion control practices, and enhancing stream corridor and floodplain function.
NRCS has worked closely with sponsors to identify projects that are ready for immediate implementation. Projects to be funded are the Red Bayou and Bayou Duralde-Lower Nezpique Watersheds.
NRCS Louisiana State Conservationist Kevin Norton said “Louisiana’s Red Bayou project funding will reduce soil erosion and sedimentation; improve water quality in Red Bayou and its tributaries; improve fish and wildlife habitat, and increase efficiency of existing irrigation systems. The project will lead to a reduction of 6,200 tons per year of sediment delivered to water supplies. ”
“Funding for the Bayou Duralde-Lower Nezpique Project will treat 33,300 acres of critically eroding cropland by installing 1,451 grade stabilization structures, 60 filter strips, 32 miles of irrigation pipeline, and 21,250 acres of irrigation land leveling in the three parishes of the watershed,” said Norton. “Nearly 45,450 tons of soil will be saved from offsite deposition which will improve water quality for 135 miles of drainage canals and 200 acres of lakes, 36,600 acre/feet of water will be saved annually which equates to a 19% reduction in the demand for groundwater, Improved wildlife habitat on 14,800 acres of bottomland hardwoods, and 15,000 acres will receive 54% less soil deposition and retain its function and values for a longer time period.”