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USDA Announces Assistance for Coastal Communities; Priority for National Scenic Areas Hit by Wildfire

Phil Eggman
Release Date
May 20, 2021

Olympia, May 20, 2021 – U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Justin Maxson today announced that USDA is making priority funding available for coastal National Scenic Areas that have been devastated by wildfires. National Scenic Areas are environmentally protected, federally designated locations that have outstanding natural and scenic value.

“Under the leadership of President Biden, Vice President Harris and Agriculture Secretary Vilsack, USDA is committed to getting help to rural communities that have been impacted by wildfires in many parts of the country,” Maxson said. “As severe weather and natural disasters continue to threaten the livelihoods of residents and businesses in rural America, we want the communities we serve to know that USDA stands ready to help.”

USDA is reserving $2 million under the Rural Business Development Grants program for eligible projects in rural communities located on a river or ocean coastline. Priority is being given to National Scenic Areas impacted by wildfires, like the Columbia River Gorge Scenic Area, which stretches over 80 miles along the Columbia River, serving as the boundary between Washington and Oregon States. 

"Fire is a constant concern for rural communities within the Gorge on both sides of the river," said Trudy Teter, USDA Rural Development Acting State Director in Washington State. "Working with our many partners and stakeholders with an invested interest in that part of the state, this funding will help provide more economic opportunity and improve the quality of life for the rural residents living there." 

Projects must be consistent with any USDA Rural Development state strategic plan, local and area-wide community and economic development strategic plans and support other economic development activities. Funds may be used to create business support centers, finance job training and support leadership development. Eligible entities include rural coastal towns, communities, state agencies, authorities, nonprofits, federally recognized tribes, institutes of higher education and cooperatives. 

Applications will be scored, reviewed and selected on a competitive basis. Applications in Washington State must be submitted to USDA Rural Development by July 6, 2021, at 4:30 p.m., Pacific Standard Time. For more information, please contact; Business Program Specialist Meyett Lavalais by emailing her at meyett.lavalais@usda.gov or by calling 509-381-6723. 

Additional information is available on page 27365 of the May 20, 2021, Federal Register (PDF, 245 KB).