VernonReporter

State Representative Oldenbrug proposes Proactive Disaster Grant bill and Farmland Preservation bill

Editorial Column by State Representative Loren Oldenburg (R-Viroqua)

April 11th, 2023 – I am proud to announce along with my Farmland Preservation bill, I have recently introduced another piece of legislation this session –the Proactive Disaster Grant bill. The floods that devastated Vernon County in 2018 were one of my main motivating factors for creating this bill; that natural disaster in particular made it clear that change was needed to prevent the same properties, businesses, and bridges from being washed out year after year. After an area experiences flooding, existing state and federal programs primarily focus on clean-up, replacing or repairing structures. This puts local governments at the forefront of dealing with the aftermath and costs of these damages.

In the last 10 years, Wisconsin reported roughly $365 million in property damage from flooding. Restoring and replacing wetlands that have been lost is one of the best ways to face this environmental challenge. Not to mention, keeping these wetlands healthy also helps to protect the wildlife that resides in these habitats.

The Proactive Disaster Grant bill creates a grant program for flood vulnerability assessments aimed at understanding flood flows and completing projects that mitigate these risks by restoring healthy wetlands, streams, and floodplains. The program is structured to improve our understanding about flood vulnerabilities through assessment work and hydrologic restoration projects that can help reduce flood damages. Through this new, proposed program, a community that has been impacted by flooding could apply for assessment grants to find what caused the disaster, whether it be high levels of erosion, ruptured dams, etc. After identifying the issue, the same community can use implementation grants offered through this bill to help with the costs of fixing said issue.

Representative Novak, Senator Quinn, and I are hopeful that this bill will help solve and prevent future flooding by working at the root cause, rather than the current fix and repair approach after the incident.To those in District 96 who have already reached out to show their support, thank you.

As always, please feel free to reach out to my office with any questions or concerns at Rep.Oldenburg@legis.wisconsin.govor (608) 237-9196

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