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Emergency Watershed Protection Program Floodplain Easement

2019 Sponsor Emergency Watershed Protection -Floodplain Easement (EWP-FPE) Sign-Up Overview.

 

The Emergency Watershed Protection - Floodplain Easement (EWP-FPE) program offers landowners the option to place a permanent easement on lands damaged by flooding at least once within the previous calendar year or at least twice within the previous 10 years. This option is available to landowners in situations where acquiring an easement is the best approach (more economical and prudent) to reduce threat to life and/or property.  Land may consist of open ground, farm land, and in some cases, if residential,  a local sponsor establishes an agreement with USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). 

A major goal of EWP–FPE is to restore the floodplain functions and values to the greatest extent practicable such as serving as fish and wildlife habitat, improving water quality, retaining flood water, and recharging groundwater. Structures, including buildings, fences, pipes, etc., within the floodplain easement must be demolished and/or removed, or relocated outside the affected floodplain area.

Administered in locations where a Presidential Disaster Declaration has been made or areas identified and funded through Congressional legislation.

Program Eligibility

Lands (within the  floodplain) damaged by flooding at least once within the previous calendar year or at least twice within the previous 10 years. Lands inundated or adversely impacted because of a dam breach.­

Who can be a Sponsor

Any legal subdivision of a State government, State agency, entity chartered under State law, Native American Tribe or Tribal organization. A non-governmental organization who is capable of meeting sponsor requirements (requires NRCS waiver).

Project Sponsor

Sponsors will serve as the local cooperate entity on projects with land(s) that have residential dwelling  or other structures. Sponsors will assist with the public dissemination of information to affected residents and also assist with:

  • Obtaining applications
  • Identifying properties
  • Obtaining fee simple title for landowners

Letters of interest are to be mailed to:

USDA-NRCS
ATTN: EWP-FRP
4407 Bland Road, Ste. 117
Raleigh, NC 27609
 

All letter of interest must be post-marked no later than May 20, 2019, to be eligible. Interested applicants should submit a letter of interest with a project descriptions, ten-year flooding history for the identified  project area, a map of the project site and any known FEMA Disaster Declarations for the county where the project is located. 

Easement Payments

Land With Structures: Easement compensation for projects that include residences or other structures will be determined through an appraisal.

Land Without Structures: As compensation for the rights purchased by NRCS, the landowner will receive the lowest of three values:

  1. The fair market value of the land which may be determined through either of two methods: an area-wide market analysis or survey, or an individual Uniform Standards for Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP) appraisal.
  2. The Geographic Area Rate Cap (GARC), which reflects the value the NRCS state conservationist (with advice from the State Technical Committee) determines to be fair compensation for the value of the easement.
  3.  A voluntary written offer by the landowner. When the landowner applies for the easements, he/she may voluntarily offer to accept less compensation than NRCS would offer. This may enhance the probability of the easement becoming enrolled. An offer to accept a lower compensation amount will be documented in writing on the ranking factors worksheet.

Who Owns and Maintains the Property Once the Easement is Placed?

Properties where residential structures will be removed will be owned and further maintained by the sponsor. Landowners of open ground or farmland will retain ownership and be responsible for operation and maintenance thereafter.

How Long Does the Easement Last?

Easements placed on the property are held in perpetuity.  In other words, the property development rights are permanently removed and the land must remain as a floodplain easement, even when the property changes ownership.

Who Pays for Transaction Costs?

NRCS bears the expense, sometimes working through a sponsor, for the appraisal, boundary survey, hazardous material assessments, title searches/policies, closing costs, and 100% of the restoration costs. Sponsors are required to pay the fee simple cost on residential lands once the development rights are removed.

How Long is the Process?

Easement acquisitions through the USDA-NRCS are not like typical real estate transactions.  The process takes approximately two years to complete from application to closing. 

Program Contact

Brian Loadholt, USDA NRCS Easement Specialist
Brian.Loadholt@usda.gov
919.873.2160