USDA Offers Sandy Victims Another Opportunity to Enroll Land into Easements
Annapolis, Md., February 10, 2014 – USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service will accept a second round of applications until April 21 for landowners who want to enroll floodplains impacted by Hurricane Sandy in easements.
Funds are available for eligible landowners through the 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.
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.
“Floodplain easements are a long-term solution to provide relief for landowners while protecting against future damage,” State Conservationist Jon Hall said. “We are committed to continuing to help people affected by Sandy recover from flooding, and this second round of applications gives people more time to apply for this the program.”
NRCS purchases the permanent floodplain 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.
All applications not selected during the first sign-up will be automatically submitted for review this time. “Several applications could not be funded because of their isolated nature. We are hoping that areas surrounding these current applications will apply and fill in these gaps,” Hall said.
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.
In addition to being located in a floodplain that is not subject to tidal influence or action from storm waves, land must also meet one of the following requirements:
Damaged by flooding at least once within the previous calendar year or damaged by flooding at least twice in the past 10 years (in both cases, the land must have been flooded 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’s 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 should contact their local USDA Service Center to learn more about the program and submit an application prior to the April 18 deadline. More information is also available on the EWP webpage.