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News Release

President Biden, USDA Announce Investment in Watershed Infrastructure Project to Benefit Rural and Historically Underserved Communities Vermont

COLCHESTER, Vermont (April 27, 2022) – The Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced recently that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will invest $420 million in 132 infrastructure projects in 31 states, including more than $2.9 million in investments in projects in Vermont. These projects include rehabilitating dams, flood prevention, and watershed restoration projects, and they are part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s implementation of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), building on a $166 million nationwide investment announced earlier this year.

The infrastructure announcement includes funding through two programs: the Watershed and Flood Prevention Operations (WFPO) Program provides technical and financial assistance for new watershed infrastructure, and the Watershed Rehabilitation Program (REHAB) upgrades existing NRCS dams.

The projects in Vermont include $2,800,000 of funding under REHAB for the Jewell Brook in Ludlow, and $110,000 of funding under WFPO for the Johns Brook Watershed in Chittenden County and Curtis Pond in Calais.

The REHAB funds will be used to bring the dams at four sites on Jewell Brook into compliance and extend the service life of the structures. The WFPO funds for Johns Brook will be used conduct a feasibility report into a proposed project that would preserve an historic dam and maintain a large impoundment that provides recreation and other benefits to the Town of Richmond and Huntington. The WFPO funds for Curtis Pond will be used to rehabilitate an existing historical mill dam which currently impounds a 72-acre pond. This pond is important for recreation, wildlife, and fish habitat, as well as a huge economic draw for Town of Calais.

In total, NRCS received $918 million of BIL funding to allocate through its watershed programs. In addition to WFPO and REHAB, this includes funds for Emergency Watershed Program (EWP) to help communities recover from natural disasters. NRCS will continue to assist communities as it receives disaster requests.

A full list of projects is available on NRCS’ Bipartisan Infrastructure Law webpage.

How Communities Can Get Help

NRCS encourages communities to engage with their local project sponsors, participate in developing a sound conservation plan that serves to protect and preserve local watersheds, and connect with their local NRCS office to learn more about Watershed Program assistance.

More Information

Since 1948, NRCS’ watershed programs have designed and built 11,850 dams, constructed water storage structures, flood management systems, stabilized streambanks, relocated residences, redirected stream flows, re-established wildlife habitat and more to save lives and protect watersheds.

USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. Under the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit usda.gov.

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