September 30, 2009 Edition

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Black Rock benefits
from EWP program



Among those who visited the site of a recent ice storm debris cleanup in Black Rock, which was funded by the Natural Resources Conservation Service's Emergency Watershed Protection Program, were (from left): Walter M. Delp, NRCS state conservation engineer; Craig Roach, NRCS civil engineer with the Jonesboro Technical Service Center; Kalven L. Trice, NRCS state conservationist; Black Rock Mayor Bud McLaughlin; Ben Starr, NRCS district conservationist in Lawrence County; Roger Fisher, community affairs specialist for Sen. Blanche Lincoln; and Russell Clark Hall, field representative for Sen. Mark Pryor.
TD Photo ~ Gretchen Hunt
Gretchen Hunt
Editor

The city of Black Rock recently benefited from a Natural Resources Conservation Service program as it worked to remove ice storm debris from a creek that runs through the town.

The Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) Program provides assistance to relieve imminent hazards to life and property created by natural disasters.

Black Rock Mayor Bud McLaughlin said the program helped prevent what could have been a major problem in Fall Creek, also known as Coffee Creek.

"The debris was tremendous," Walter M. Delp, state conservation engineer for NRCS, said. "It threatened the bridge (located behind the old Cavenaugh Ford lot) and potentially would have caused flooding in local businesses."

McLaughlin said there are also several large sewer lines that run through the creek that could have been damaged and standing debris could have caused erosion.

Cleanup started just past the bridge behind Cavenaugh's lot and continued for a little over a mile through town. McLaughlin said they removed debris ranging in size from tree trunks to the size of a finger.

"We removed 76 loads of debris," he said. "We're still trying to burn it all."

The city was trying to complete the burning by FEMA's extended deadline of Sept. 27.

Delp said the great thing about the EWP program is the funding is already in place.

"As soon as there is a problem, we can start work," he said.

Several NRCS employees met with McLaughlin and representatives of Sen. Blanche Lincoln and Sen. Mark Pryor's offices recently to discuss the benefits of the program and visit the creek where the work was completed.

"We could not get funded without the support of Congress," Kalven L. Trice, NRCS state conservationist, said. "We really appreciate the support of Sen. Lincoln and Sen. Pryor."

The program has received $13 million to be used for projects that fit the guidelines. Approximately $5.6 million has been used throughout the state to assist communities after the ice storm, tornadoes or flooding during the past two years.

Ben Starr, NRCS district conservationist in Lawrence County, bragged on McLaughlin for providing the local support needed to make projects such as this a success.

"It was much easier for Bud to get local permissions," Starr said.

Trice agreed saying, "It helps when you have local folks who kind of know the ropes. It takes local cooperation."

The program is funded on a 75-25 cost-share basis. Black Rock was able to provide their match with in-kind contributions of labor and equipment.

"There is no way we could have done it on our own," McLaughlin said.

Starr said that EWP is just a small part of what NRCS does.

"Our main job is to assist farmers with conservation through programs or technical services," he said.

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