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News Release

USDA offers Sandy victims another opportunity to enroll land into easements

Dover, Del., January 28, 2014- USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will accept a second round of applications from Delaware’s landowners who want to enroll floodplains impacted by Hurricane Sandy into easements. Applications are being accepted now until April 18.

Funds are available for eligible landowners through NRCS’ Emergency Watershed Protection Program – Floodplain Easements. In December, NRCS announced the first round of applicants selected for enrollment, which could put about 400 acres in perpetual, floodplain easements to help protect against future floods.

“Floodplain easements are a long-term solution to provide relief for landowners while preventing future damage from flooding,” Delaware State Conservationist Kasey Taylor said. “This second round of applications will allow more people in need to apply for this vital program and place more critical floodplain acres under easement.”

NRCS purchases the permanent easements on eligible lands and restores the area to natural conditions. A healthy floodplain enhances fish and wildlife habitat, water quality, flood water retention and ground water recharge while making it more resilient to flooding.

Funds are only available in counties affected by Hurricane Sandy and where a major disaster was declared pursuant to the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act in Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia and West Virginia.

Private lands and those owned by local and state governments are eligible if they are located in a floodplain that is not subject to tidal influence or action from storm waves. The land must also meet one of the following requirements:

•    Damaged by flooding at least twice in the past 10 years (the land must have been flooded once during Sandy);
•    Would contribute to the restoration of flood storage and flow, provide for control of erosion, or improve the practical management of the floodplain easement; or
•    Could be inundated or adversely impacted as a result of a dam breach.

Easement compensation rates and ranking priorities vary by location and depend on where the land is in the floodplain and how it is used.

The program easements are permanent in term. Lands with structures, such as homes, are eligible for enrollment as well as open or agricultural lands. If a structure is present, NRCS will cost-share the removal or demolition of that structure and enroll the remaining lot in a permanent easement.

Interested landowners in Delaware should contact the Delaware NRCS State Office at 302-678-4160 to learn more about the program and submit an application prior to the April 18 deadline. More information is also available on the NRCS floodplain easement website.