New York State Senator Metzger held a press conference on Thurs., Oct. 1 in Westtown, NY to announce a $400,000 in State and Municipal Facilities Capital (SAM) grant for the third phase of the Wallkill Floodplain Bench Project to prevent flooding of farmland in the Black Dirt Region of Orange County.
Farms suffered severe damage and economic losses from flooding caused by Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee, and the Floodplain Bench Project is designed to improve resilience, creating a floodplain to accommodate floodwaters and provide a vegetative buffer between farms and the Wallkill River.
At the press conference announcing the grant, the Senator was joined by the project’s leadership at the Orange County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD), including Chairman John Wright, Director and Orange County Legislator Paul Ruszkiewicz, and Manager Kevin Sumner, along with Orange County Deputy County Executive Harry Porr, Warwick Town Supervisor Michael Sweeton, and Orange County Farm Bureau President John Lupinski.
Senator Metzger, who chairs the Senate’s Committee on Agriculture, met with farmers and SWCD staff and board members soon after taking office in 2019 to hear about local plans and needs for improving agriculture’s resilience to severe storms. The Black Dirt Region is particularly vulnerable to flooding, which can damage crops and yields and wash away this unique and irreplaceable topsoil. The SWCD completed two phases of the Floodplain Bench Project, but did not have the funds to undertake the third and final phase. Senator Metzger worked to secure $400,000 in funding to move the final phase of the project forward, which will help protect farmland in Warwick, Minisink, and Wawayanda from flooding.
“The funds from this grant to continue the bench project by OCSWCD is vital to the success of the efforts to prevent flooding of our critical black dirt farming area and the hard working farm families who are the heart of the Town’s economy. I applaud Senator Metzger for securing these funds that are so critical,” said Town Supervisor Michael Sweeton.
Orange County Soil & Water Conservation District (SWCD) Chairman John Wright, SWCD Director & County Legislator Paul Ruszkiewicz, SWCD Manager Kevin Sumner, Senator Jen Metzger, Deputy County Executive Harry Porr, O.C. Farm Bureau President John Lupinski, & Warwick Town Supervisor Michael Sweeton hold a giant check for the $400K grant secured by Senator Metzger for the Wallkill Floodplain Bench Project.