WASHINGTON — The USDA announced the selection of about $19.2 million in funding this week for floodplain easements to help the victims of Hurricane Sandy and prevent future damage in flood-prone areas in the Northeast region.
The agency also announced that another round of applications for easement funds will be accepted starting next month.
Funding is provided by Congress through the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Emergency Watershed Protection Program.
“As we help Northeast residents overcome the tragic devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy, we can also work together to improve resilience and protect folks from flooding and other threats in the years to come,” said U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.
Landowners in Connecticut, New Jersey and New York are voluntarily placing their land into floodplain easements, which will be restored to natural conditions and help to prevent damages from future storms.
When lands are enrolled into the NRCS floodplain easements program, homes, structures, dikes or other obstacles to water flow are removed, allowing water to move naturally across floodplains when streams and rivers rise beyond their banks.
Restoration of these perpetual easements not only helps prevent flooding but also improves conditions for wildlife.
For easements on open or agricultural land, the landowner retains ownership and several other rights including the right to use the land for recreational purposes.
Because NRCS works to enroll entire floodplains, applications are submitted in groups. Most applications NRCS received during the recent funding round were from areas where not all owners chose to enroll.
Only applications that included every structure in the floodplain were enrolled in the first round. The second round is expected to complement the properties accepted by USDA in round one.
The second sign-up will be held in January. Interested landowners should contact their local USDA service center to learn more about the program and submit an application.