Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman has announced $150 million will be provided to help southern California wildfire recovery efforts and to address the tree mortality emergency in Los Angeles, Riverside, San Diego, San Bernardino and Ventura counties. This funding is in addition to the more than $9 million for emergency environmental restoration work in southern California that USDA provided in November 2003.

“The Bush administration remains committed to long-term recovery and prevention efforts in communities impacted by devastating wildfires,” said Veneman.

The funds are being made available through the Natural Resources Conservation Service's Emergency Watershed Protection Program (EWP). USDA/NRCS will continue to work in partnership with local, state and federal agencies to ensure public safety and to address restoration efforts on private lands.

The southern California fires burned 739,597 acres, took 22 human lives and cost more than $250 million to contain.