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News Release

Easement program to help Pennsylvania recover from Hurricane Sandy, prevent damages from future flooding

Molly McDonough

HARRISBURG, PA, July 18, 2013– USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service is providing up to $124.8 million in Emergency Watershed Protection Program-Floodplain Easement (EWP-FPE) funding to help protect property in Pennsylvania and other states damaged by Hurricane Sandy.

“Restoring these ecosystems ensures they are resilient to future threats and impacts,” says Denise Coleman, State Conservationist. “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.”

NRCS is accepting applications for EWP-FPE until Sept. 2, 2013. Funds are only available in the following 18 Pennsylvania counties where a major disaster was declared pursuant to the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act due to Hurricane Sandy: Philadelphia, Montgomery, Bucks, Northampton, Pike, Monroe, Dauphin, Juniata, Franklin, Fulton, Huntingdon, Bedford, Somerset, Potter, Cameron, Forest, Sullivan, and Wyoming.

The EWP-FPE program complements traditional disaster recovery funding and allows NRCS to purchase a permanent easement on eligible lands within floodplains that sustained damage from  Hurricane Sandy. Private lands and those owned by local and state governments are eligible if they are located in a floodplain, not subject to tidal influence or action from storm waves, and meet one of the following requirements:

  • Floodplain lands that were damaged by flooding at least once within the previous calendar year or have been subjected to flood damage at least twice in the past 10 years. In each case, one of the flooding events must have occurred during Hurricane Sandy.
  • Other lands in the floodplain that would contribute to the restoration of flood storage and flow, provide erosion control, or improve the practical management of the floodplain easement.

For eligible sites, it must be determined that acquiring an easement, in lieu of recovery, is the more economical and prudent approach to reducing a threat to life and property. The purchasing of random properties in a non-contiguous or checkerboard fashion does not allow the restoration of complete stream reaches into effective natural floodplains and will not be permitted.

The program easements are permanent. Easement compensation rates and ranking priorities vary by location and depend upon whether the entire stream reach can be taken under easement and restored. Additionally, the landowner must accept the terms of the Warranty Easement Deed and obtain documentation verifying that a downstream municipality sustained damage also.  

Interested landowners should contact theirlocal USDA Service Centerto learn more about the program and submit an application prior to the Sept. 2nd deadline. More information is also available on the NRCS floodplain easement website.

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USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service helps America’s farmers, ranchers and forestland owners conserve the Nation’s soil, water, air and other natural resources. All programs are voluntary and offer science-based solutions that benefit both the landowner and the environment.


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