Albany County, New York
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Above: 500 foot access road that was completely washed out with gulleys that were several feet deep.
Below: Access road after the repairs
Among the first responders on the scene, the Soil and Water District immediately assessed damage eligible for the emergency funding, submitted applications and designed projects to restore the damaged infrastructure.
"On one farm alone, the damage to access roads and bridges was so severe that cows were stranded, unable to get home to the farm," said Field Manager Joseph Slezak.
Immediate rebuilding for access was top priority along with restoration of thousands of feet of fencing to keep the cows out of the stream to help protect water quality and the City of Albany's drinking water supply.
"The District has been critical to my farm recovering from this natural disaster and will continue to be critical to my farm's survival," said Gerald Boone, owner of Golden Acres Farm.
"While in the midst of helping Albany County residents recover from this recent crisis, the Soil and Water District finds out that they are in a crisis of their own," said Gerard Chartier, Chair of the Albany County Water Quality Coordinating Committee. "I'm baffled by the County Executives proposal to eliminate their funding, thus eliminating their ability to leverage grant dollars and assist the farmers, homeowners, communities, highway and fire departments that rely on them for help."
In 2011, the District utilized their county appropriation in the amount of $80,671.00 to leverage over $550,000 in state and federal funding for conservation projects to help meet local needs and priorities. This multiplied the county's investment in their programs and technical services nearly seven times. This equates to seven dollars being brought into the County for every dollar the county has provided to the District. Nearly all of these grant dollars go directly towards the implementation of the conservation projects, supporting local jobs and businesses that provide the services and materials necessary to complete the projects.
"County funding is critical to the Districts ability to provide these emergency services and leverage additional dollars for conservation and restoration projects," added Chartier.
Projects on other devastated farms are scheduled to be completed by the end of December, which include: restoration of fencing to restrict livestock access to water sources; stream crossings at a defined point designed to handle the transport of machinery and cows; and debris removal of clogged streams where overflows devastated farmsteads, crop fields and pasture. Completion of these projects will help restore and protect water quality, farmland, homes and property, along with habitat for fish and wildlife. The District is also assisting communities with stormwater programs and green infrastructure projects, while helping many homeowners with flooding issues and stream projects.
"Soil and Water Conservation Districts have been in the forefront of agricultural recovery efforts dating back to the Dust Bowl Era," said Douglas LaGrange, Town of New Scotland Councilperson. "Their technical expertise and know-how is a tremendous asset to help our residents and communities recover from natural disasters like this one, and to protecting our precious natural resources for future generations."
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