Barbara Phillips, Public Affairs Specialist
Easement Program for NJ Landowners Impacted by Sandy Offered Again
SOMERSET, December 23, 2013 – In January USDA - Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will open another application period for the Emergency Watershed Flood Plain Easement Program (EWP-FPE) for landowners impacted by Hurricane Sandy. The first sign-up was held in August.
“Because many homeowners were displaced by Sandy, we know there are eligible landowners who did not receive information about our floodplain easement program in August when we first offered it. We are hoping that those who may be eligible will come forward to apply during our next sign up for EWP-FPE,” said NRCS State Conservationist Carrie Mosley.
NRCS will notify first-round applicants of the status of their application by January 19. Properties that have been approved for the easement program will be surveyed and property values assessed. These assessments will provide the basis for NRCS to issue offers for purchase of easement on those properties. Last week Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that USDA has earmarked $4.1 million for Sandy relief in New Jersey for applicants from the August sign-up for the program.
NRCS worked closely with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Blue Acres Program and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to identify where they could blend their resources to provide relief in areas impacted by Sandy. The three agencies focused on the Bay Point Peninsula in Lawrence Township, Cumberland County.
Applicants not approved for funding through the federal floodplain easement program may still be eligible for relief through the State programs.
In addition to the Bay Point properties, NRCS will also offer an easement to a Hunterdon County farm for 12 agricultural acres along the Capoolong Creek, a Category 1 stream with reproducing Brown trout.
The program easements are permanent in term. Public and private lands with structures, such as homes, are eligible for enrollment as well as open or agricultural lands. If a structure is present, NRCS will commission the removal or demolition of that structure and enroll the remaining lot in a permanent easement. Owners of properties zoned “residential” will need to secure a public sponsor who will assume ownership of the property upon execution of the warranty easement deed. Applicants selected for the program will be awarded 100% of value of land and structures (fair market value), and NRCS will cover the cost of restoration of the easement, including the demolition or removal of structures present on the property.
Interested landowners should contact their local USDA Service Centerto learn more about the Emergency Watershed Flood Plain Easement Program and submit an application. More information is also available on the NRCS website.