Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Flood plain easement construction

Floodplain Easement

NRCS administers the Emergency Watershed Protection EWP Program, which is designed for emergency recovery work, including the purchase of floodplain easements.

Floodplain Easement Option

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) administers the Emergency Watershed Protection Program (EWP) that assists sponsors and landowners to protect lives and property from flooding or soil erosion after a natural disaster. The EWP Program is designed for emergency recovery work, including the purchase of floodplain easements. In communities impacted by constant flooding, an easement might be the best solution. Limited Resource Areas (LRAs) are a priority for available funding.

What is a floodplain easement?

A floodplain easement is a reserved interest in the land defined in a deed where the landowner conveys specific rights but retains ownership, title, and interest in the property. NRCS may purchase floodplain easements as an emergency measure, and NRCS will only purchase easements from landowners on a voluntary basis. A floodplain easement conveys property rights to NRCS so that:

  • the threat of damage to property is reduced or eliminated, and

  • the floodplain may be restored and protected.

NRCS will pay landowners full fair market value based on an appraisal for the floodplain easement. Also, NRCS may provide up to 100 percent of the restoration and enhancement costs of the easement.

What lands are eligible?

Any land use is potentially eligible for a floodplain easement. Agricultural land, land with/without structures and communities with residential properties, are eligible if:

  • The floodplain lands were damaged by flooding at least once within the previous year or have been subject to flood damage at least twice within the previous 10 years; or
  • other lands within the floodplain would contribute to the restoration of the flood storage and flow, erosion control, or that would improve the practical management of the easement; or
  • lands would be inundated or adversely impacted as a result of a dam breach.

What is a Limited Resource Area (LRA)

A limited resource area is defined where housing values and income are less than a state’s average and unemployment is at least twice the U.S. average.

Criteria for Assistance

All EWP work must provide protection from future flooding or soil erosion; reduce threats to life and property; restore the natural function to the watershed; and be economically and environmentally sound.

How do I obtain assistance?

If your land has been damaged by flooding and meets the eligibility requirements, it may qualify for EWP assistance. To request assistance, contact your USDA-NRCS EWP Program Manager.

Sponsorship

Project sponsor must be a State or political subdivision thereof, qualified Indian tribe or tribal organization, or unit of local government. Cities, Counties, and state conservation districts are the most common sponsors of EWP projects.

Contact your local NRCS office to learn more about the EWP Floodplain Easement Option.

Ready to get started?

Contact your local service center to start your application.

Find Your Local Service Center

USDA Service Centers are locations where you can connect with Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service, or Rural Development employees for your business needs. Enter your state and county below to find your local service center and agency offices. If this locator does not work in your browser, please visit offices.usda.gov.

How to Get Assistance

Do you farm or ranch and want to make improvements to the land that you own or lease?

Natural Resources Conservation Service offers technical and financial assistance to help farmers, ranchers and forest landowners.

how to get started

To get started with NRCS, we recommend you stop by your local NRCS field office. We’ll discuss your vision for your land.

NRCS provides landowners with free technical assistance, or advice, for their land. Common technical assistance includes: resource assessment, practice design and resource monitoring. Your conservation planner will help you determine if financial assistance is right for you.

We’ll walk you through the application process. To get started on applying for financial assistance, we’ll work with you:

  • To fill out an AD 1026, which ensures a conservation plan is in place before lands with highly erodible soils are farmed. It also ensures that identified wetland areas are protected.
  • To meet other eligibility certifications.

Once complete, we’ll work with you on the application, or CPA 1200.

Applications for most programs are accepted on a continuous basis, but they’re considered for funding in different ranking periods. Be sure to ask your local NRCS district conservationist about the deadline for the ranking period to ensure you turn in your application in time.

As part of the application process, we’ll check to see if you are eligible. To do this, you’ll need to bring:

  • An official tax ID (Social Security number or an employer ID)
  • A property deed or lease agreement to show you have control of the property; and
  • A farm tract number.

If you don’t have a farm tract number, you can get one from USDA’s Farm Service Agency. Typically, the local FSA office is located in the same building as the local NRCS office. You only need a farm tract number if you’re interested in financial assistance.

NRCS will take a look at the applications and rank them according to local resource concerns, the amount of conservation benefits the work will provide and the needs of applicants.

If you’re selected, you can choose whether to sign the contract for the work to be done.

Once you sign the contract, you’ll be provided standards and specifications for completing the practice or practices, and then you will have a specified amount of time to implement. Once the work is implemented and inspected, you’ll be paid the rate of compensation for the work if it meets NRCS standards and specifications.