USDA will provide nearly $42.3 million in additional funding to 14 states to improve water quality, increase water supply, decrease soil erosion, and improve fish and wildlife habitat while creating jobs in rural communities as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009.

“This next wave of funding will give even more people opportunities to conserve our nation’s natural resources while boosting local economies,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in early June.

“The overwhelming response we received with the first wave of Recovery Act funding shows the assistance that people and communities need, and we look forward to helping them deliver it by investing in improving local watershed projects.”

The Cane Creek Project in Tennessee’s Lauderdale County will receive $12.4 million to stabilize state and county bridges in danger of failure due to channel degradation and stream bank erosion. Kevin Brown, Tennessee state conservationist, who directs the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in the state, says the average annual benefits of the project will total $901,270 and bring approximately 300 jobs to the area.

Tennessee Rep. John Tanner, whose district includes Cane Creek, said the project will have a significant economic impact. “This is an important investment in Tennessee’s short-term and long-term economic development,” said Tanner. “We will be able to help Tennessee’s working families by creating jobs in the near future. The work they do will literally lay the groundwork to make our rural communities stronger so that we can be successful in recruiting more private-sector development to our area.”

Through ARRA, the USDA-NRCS has a key role in creating jobs for Americans in areas that are most impacted economically and by natural disaster. By working closely with local community sponsors to identify projects that are ready for implementation, NRCS will direct the technical and financial assistance available toward improving public safety and the environment as well as relieving stress on local economies through job creation and retention.

ARRA funds for these projects will be used for conservation practices to achieve a healthy environment through conserving water and improving irrigation efficiency, controlling soil erosion and installing filter strips, flood-proofing homes, enhancing stream corridor and floodplain functions, constructing small flood control dams, and improving wildlife and aquatic habitat.

The jobs ARRA creates in the private sector will enhance the rate of restoration and improve watershed management so that the impacts of flooding will decline and communities are safer, sooner. USDA is directing technical and financial assistance available through this funding toward projects that are ready to begin and that will relieve stress on local economies through the creation of jobs. NRCS has worked closely with sponsors to identify projects that are ready for immediate implementation.

Among the projects (state, project, funding): Alabama, Camp Branch, $175,000; Alabama, Northeast Yellow River, $255,000; Mississippi, Ellison Creek, $1.875 million; Mississippi, Little and Upper Tallahatchie, $2.2 million; Mississippi, Town Creek, $930,000; Mississippi, Yazoo–Arkabutla Creek, $1 million; Mississippi, Yazoo–Upper Piney Creek, $875,000; Mississippi, Yazoo–Upper Skuna River, $750,000; Tennessee, Cane Creek, $12.4 million.

Funding provided through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 is part of the Obama administration’s plans to modernize the nation’s infrastructure, jumpstart the economy, and create jobs. For more information, visit www.recovery.gov.

To learn more about your eligibility for USDA projects under way through the Recovery Act, go to www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usdahome. To find out more about USDA farm bill programs in Tennessee, go to www.tn.nrcs.usda.gov/.