The USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Texas is taking applications through Feb. 15 for floodplain easements through the Emergency Watershed Protection Floodplain Easement Program (EWPP-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 the EWPP-FPE program, eligible applicants voluntarily agree to sell a permanent conservation easement to the United States through NRCS. EWPP-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 Darren Richardson, 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 their property.”
A major goal of EWPP-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.
To apply for the program, visit the local USDA Service Center for an application package. Applications will be prioritized by a statewide ranking.