USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service has opened another application round for Northeast landowners who want to enroll floodplains impacted by Hurricane Sandy into permanent conservation easements. Applications are being accepted until April 18.
Funds are available through NRCS' Emergency Watershed Protection Program – Floodplain Easements. Landowners can put about 400 acres in perpetual, floodplain easements to help protect against future floods.
"Floodplain easements are a long-term solution to provide relief for landowners while preventing future damage from flooding," explains Delaware State Conservationist Kasey Taylor. "This second round of applications will allow more people in need to apply for this vital program."
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 while making it more resilient to flooding.
What lands are eligible
Funds are only available in counties affected by Hurricane Sandy and where a major disaster was declared pursuant to the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act in Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia and West Virginia.
Private lands and those owned by local and state governments are eligible if located in a floodplain that's not subject to tidal influence or storm wave action. The land must also meet one of the following requirements:
•Damaged by flooding at least twice in the past 10 years. It must have been flooded once during Sandy;
•Would contribute to restoration of flood storage and flow, provide for control of erosion, or improve the practical management of the floodplain easement; or
•Could be inundated or adversely impacted as a result of a dam breach.
Easement compensation rates vary by location and depend on where the land is in the floodplain and how it is used.
Lands with structures, such as homes, are eligible for enrollment as well as open or agricultural lands. If a structure is present, NRCS will cost-share the removal or demolition of that structure and enroll the remaining lot in a permanent easement.
Contact the NRCS State Office in your respective state. Submit your application before the April 18 deadline. More information is also available on the NRCS floodplain easement website.