Oklahoma State Conservationist Ron Hilliard announced that Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer made available $390 million through the Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) program, of which $16 million will be made available for Oklahoma communities to cope with the aftermath of floods and ice storms. These funds will be used on approved EWP projects in thirty-two (32) counties in Oklahoma.

“USDA employees work shoulder to shoulder with their neighbors at the outset of these emergencies, and remain involved as a member of these communities,” said Schafer. “I’m proud that we follow up with emergency support to recover an area’s damaged watersheds and remove hazards to life and property.”

The $390 million is included in a $162 billion supplemental spending bill that helps the Midwest states with areas ravaged by recent flooding. However, it also provides funding to cover about $140 million in EWP projects from earlier natural disasters, such as tornadoes and wildfires.

The EWP Program is designed to help non federal units of government remove erosion based threats to life and property caused by natural disaster events.

In Oklahoma there are five events that qualify for EWP assistance with a total estimated cost of $16 million. Those events occurred in June and July 2007, August 2007, December 2007, March 18, 2008, and on April 10, 2008. EWP Project sponsors have already submitted their requests for assistance.

Additional information about EWP is available http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/ewp.