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On Earth Day, USDA Invests More Than $200,000 in Critical Infrastructure to Combat Climate Change in Rural California

Daniel Phelps
Release Date
Apr 22, 2022

Today, in honor of Earth Day 2022, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing more than $200,000 in climate-smart infrastructure. These investments will strengthen the health and livelihoods of people across rural California.

Today’s announcement is part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s Building a Better America Rural Infrastructure Tour, during which Biden Administration officials are traveling to dozens of rural communities to talk about the impact of Bipartisan Infrastructure Law investments, as well as President Biden’s broader commitment to ensure federal resources reach all communities in rural America. This announcement also furthers the President’s Justice40 Initiative, which commits to delivering at least 40 percent of the benefits from federal climate and clean energy investments to disadvantaged communities. 

“People in rural America are experiencing the impacts of climate change in many ways. This includes more severe droughts, more frequent wildfires, and more destructive and life-threatening storms,” Vilsack said. “When we invest in infrastructure in rural communities, we are investing in our planet, and we’re also investing in the peace of mind families will have when kids are drinking clean and safe tap water in their homes. USDA is proud to celebrate Earth Day and the many ways we are addressing climate change and investing in locally-driven solutions to bring safe water and renewable energy to people in rural areas everywhere.”

Today, USDA Rural Development is taking several actions to mitigate the impacts of climate change in rural communities.

Advancing Equity in Rural Communities

USDA Rural Development is prioritizing projects that advance the Biden-Harris Administration’s key priorities of investing in rural communities to ensure people have equitable access to critical resources and to combat the climate crisis. Investments in these communities will make an impact for generations to come.

Infrastructure Improvements for Communities Hit by Severe Weather

USDA is investing more than $200,000 to help rural California communities hit by severe weather. The Department is making the investments under the Community Facilities Disaster Grants program and the Water and Waste Disposal Disaster Loan and Grant Program.

The funds will help communities build back better by purchasing emergency response equipment to help communities be better prepared and more resilient in the face of disaster.

In Orleans, the Mid Klamath Watershed Council will use a $45,000 Community Facilities Disaster Grant to purchase a chipper to provide defensible space for homes and communities in the Orleans area. The new chipper will be able to chip items 16-inches in diameter and provide vital help with other emergency services. In addition, the chipper will help with climate change by reducing wood fuels in the area that could catch on fire.

The Elk Creek Fire Protection District will use a $176,200 Community Facilities Disaster Grant to purchase a Type-3 wildland fire truck to replace a fire engine that is more than 25-years old. The truck will become the district's main wildland response vehicle, providing quick fire suppression and medical care. Quick fire suppression is vital to the area, as it is very dry with tall grass and heavy brush. Knocking down fires and providing rapid medical care is critical to the health and safety of area residents, and the state through the district's involvement with Cal Fire activities. Existing equipment is no longer mechanically dependable, nor is it efficient or safe for firefighter transportation. While the Elk Creek Fire Protection District has worked diligently to be fiscally conservative and continuously save for critical purchases, without the USDA's Community Facilities program, the equipment fund would be depleted, leaving no funds for potential emergency needs.

Background: Building a Better America Rural Infrastructure Tour

Under the leadership of the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA and its federal partners in the Infrastructure Implementation Task Force are working with rural communities to deliver on the promise of support for rural America.

The Building a Better America Rural Infrastructure Tour is a multi-faceted outreach effort involving cabinet and sub-cabinet officials across federal agencies as they travel to and learn from key rural communities. These visits will highlight new federal funding and investments already underway through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, a once-in-a-generation investment that will support rural communities and their infrastructure needs.

USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. In 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 www.usda.gov.

Under the Biden-Harris Administration, Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities, create jobs and improve the quality of life for millions of Americans in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community facilities such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural, tribal and high-poverty areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.

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