Program to Benefit Frequently Flooded Ag Land
The USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Texas is taking applications through Nov. 15 for floodplain restorations through the Emergency Watershed Protection Program Floodplain Easement (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 and pasture, and in certain situations, residential areas in cooperation with a qualified sponsor.
“Landowners across Texas have faced – and continue to face – significant challenges from flooding and natural disasters,” said acting NRCS State Conservationist Kristy Oates. “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.
Floodplain easements restore, protect, maintain, and enhance the functions of floodplains while conserving their natural values such as serving as a fish and wildlife habitat, improving water quality, retaining floodwater, and recharging groundwater.
Lands damaged by flooding at least once within the previous calendar year or at least twice within the previous 10 years are eligible for the program, as are 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 may sponsor an application. A non-governmental organization who is capable of meeting sponsor requirements requires an NRCS waiver.
How Long is the Process?
Easement acquisitions through the USDA-NRCS are not like typical real estate transactions. The process takes approximately two years or longer to complete from application to closing.
The purpose of the Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) Program is to respond to emergencies created by natural disasters. The EWP Program is designed to help people and conserve natural resources by relieving imminent hazards to life and property caused by floods, fires, drought, windstorms, and other natural occurrences. The NRCS administers the EWP Program.
There are two components to the EWP Program: the EWP-Recovery through which NRCS works with a sponsor to implement emergency measures to address watershed impairments, and the EWP-Floodplain Easement (FPE), which offers an alternative method to traditional EWP Program Recovery. This option is available to landowners and others where acquiring an easement is the best approach (more economical and prudent) to reduce threat to life and/or property. A major goal of EWP–FPE is to restore the land, to the maximum extent possible, to its natural condition.
For more information on the EWPP-FPE or other conservation programs to assist with agricultural land including the NRCS Easement Restoration Program, please visit the NRCS at your local USDA Service Center.