Macon County Chronicle

USDA awards county $1.027 million grant for creek clean-up

USDA GrantA one million, twenty-seven thousand dollar USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) grant will fund the clean-up of Macon County creeks that are clogged with tornado generated debris, County Mayor Shelvy Linville announced on Monday. The grant was applied for after Phillip Dixon, District Conservationist, contacted Linville about the danger of the clogged creeks. “Chop Porter, our Road Supervisor, came to me and asked for assistance, because the bridges are getting clogged, ” said Dixon, “and this is just too big a job for his county budget to take care of.

Great big trees account for most of the storm debris that is clogging the creeks and bridges, although there are a few houses in creeks, too. Trees big enough to do a lot of damage when washed down stream, times several hundreds, willl turn into major dams, flooding roads and fields and washing out bridges.

Aside from the huge expense of repairing or replacing blown out bridges, which can cost from $10,000 on up, the situation could cause a loss of life by weakening bridges, said Dixon. At least 10 county bridges and one state bridge are in immediate danger – or will be when the spring rains come.
“If we get a four inch rain, there will be a lot of damage to homes and roads and fields,” said Dixon. “The houses that are still sitting along these little creeks are going to flood or wash away, and those people don’t need that on top of the heartbreak they’ve already experienced.”
The grant, which was awarded to Macon County and the county’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) where Dixon works, will cover 100% of the cost of cleaning up the 6.25 miles of creeks in the path of the February 5 tornado. The county won’t have to pay any part of the cost. The NRCS is an agency of the USDA.

Contractors interested in bidding on the job will meet at the Soil Conservation Office on Wednesday morning to tour the county and look at creeks and bridges. Hopefully, the bid will be let this coming Friday at 1 p.m., with work beginning on Monday, March 17. And  hopefully, the work will be finished before spring rains and gulley washers flood Macon County creeks.

But before the contract is let, all landowners involved will have to sign a right of entry form for contractors to go on their land. As of Monday afternoon, about half of landowners had signed the form.
It would be good if landowners who live on or near a creek in the tornado’s path would call the NRCS office at 666-4016 - extension 3, said Dixon, in case their name was overlooked.
Trees that are big enough to sell as logs will be set aside for property owners.