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News Release

USDA helps Idaho counties recover from wildfire

Sarah Maxwell

Funding to Restore Grazing Lands and Rebuild Wildlife Habitat, Communities

WASHINGTON, August 23, 2013 –Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the availability of $2 million to implement practices that will help private agricultural producers and forest landowners recover from recent wildfires that damaged 600,000 acres in Idaho. The funding will help protect natural resources and aid in other recovery efforts. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) remains committed to helping repair and rebuild communities that have seen a number of natural disasters in the last two years. "We want to ensure that American agriculture continues to thrive,” Vilsack said. “This funding will help agricultural operations and communities survive these kinds of disasters with practices that protect damaged watersheds, restore rangeland, and enhance wildlife habitat.”

The financial and technical assistance will be available through the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s (NRCS) Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).

NRCS works with private landowners to implement conservation practices, such as planting vegetation, fencing to help manage livestock, and enhancing wildlife habitat.

These efforts are needed following wildfires, said NRCS Idaho State Conservationist Jeff Burwell. This funding will help restore burned rangelands and non-industrial private forest lands by reducing soil erosion and potential flooding, he said.

The majority of the fires occurred in Elmore, Gooding, Blaine, Lincoln and Oneida counties. The natural resources and area impacted by the wildfire had not only provided feed and forage for livestock and livelihood for ranchers, but habitat for sage grouse and critical winter range for mule deer and elk.

“This is a great opportunity to help these ranchers and other landowners impacted by the devastating wildfires,” Burwell said. “If our EQIP financial assistance can help the land and communities recover more quickly, it benefits not just private landowners, but also wildlife and other natural resources throughout the entire region.”

USDA helps communities rebuild and recover from natural disasters across the nation. In the past year, USDA has provided financial and technical assistance to states affected by Hurricane Sandy, tornados, flooding and drought. NRCS offers a variety of conservation practices, programs and tools that help America’s farmers, ranchers and forest owners recover from these natural disasters and adapt to new challenges caused by climate change.

Landowners in the impacted counties should contact their local USDA Service Center to learn more and submit an application prior to the August 30 deadline. More information is also available online.