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News Release

USDA-NRCS Accepting Floodplain Easement Applications for Frequently Flooded Lands in Texas

Contact:
Rob Ziehr
254-742-9888


TEMPLE, Texas, Aug. 21, 2020 — The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Texas is taking applications through Oct. 9, 2020, for floodplain easements through the Emergency Watershed Protection Floodplain Easement Program (EWP-FPE). The program’s focus is to provide landowners with another option for frequently flooded properties such as agricultural fields, forested land, fallow land, pasture and, in certain situations, residential areas in cooperation with a qualified sponsor.  

Through EWP-FPE, eligible applicants voluntarily agree to sell a permanent conservation easement to the United States through NRCS. EWP-FPE is administered in locations where a presidential disaster declaration has been made or areas identified and funded through Congressional legislation. For eligibility, the applicant must have documented evidence of flooding which occurred at least once within the previous calendar year or at least twice within the previous 10 years. Lands inundated or damaged because of dam breach also qualify. Compensation is based on fair market value.

“Landowners across the Texas have faced—and continue to face—significant challenges from flooding and natural disasters,” said Clint Evans, acting NRCS state conservationist for Texas. “This easement program offers an option that alleviates the stress of operating in a floodplain while still retaining ownership of the property.” 

A major goal of EWP-FPE is to restore the floodplain functions and values to the greatest extent practicable. Structures, including buildings, fences, pipes, etc., within the floodplain easement must be demolished and/or removed, or relocated outside the affected floodplain area. The costs of all restoration practices are also paid for through the program, and the landowner can participate in the restoration efforts.

After the sale of the permanent easement, landowners still retain several property rights, including the right to quiet enjoyment, control public access, and the right to undeveloped recreational use such as hunting and fishing.

At any time, a landowner may request authorization from NRCS to engage in other activities. NRCS may allow other activities, called compatible use, if it is determined the activity will further the protection and enhancement of the easement’s floodplain functions and values. These compatible uses may include managed timber harvest, periodic haying, or grazing.  

At this time, USDA Service Centers are not able to accept visitors in person and interested applicants should call their local service center to schedule an appointment. Service centers can be located at www.farmers.gov/connect. Applications will be prioritized by statewide ranking.