NRCS offering easement program to assist states impacted by Hurricane Sandy

July 19, 2013

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NRCS offering easement program to assist states impacted by Hurricane Sandy in preventing damages from future flooding.

The following counties and localities designated under President Obama’s federal disaster declaration in Virginia may apply for this program: Accomack, Arlington, Clarke, Craig, Culpeper, Essex, Fauquier, Frederick, Greene, Highland, King and Queen, Lancaster, Loudoun, Madison, Mathews, Middlesex, Nelson, New Kent, Northampton, Northumberland, Prince William, Rappahannock, Shenandoah, Surry, Warren, and Westmoreland counties and the cities of Fairfax, Falls Church, and Manassas.

The Federal government is providing up to $124.8 million to assist localities impacted by Hurricane Sandy. The monies will be used to purchase land in floodplains and dam break inundation zones in an effort to limit development thus limiting the need for future recovery measures. Funding is provided through USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Emergency Watershed Program-Floodplain Easement (EWP-FPE). Funding is for those states, including Virginia, affected by Hurricane Sandy.

Restoring floodplain and dam break inundation zone ecosystems will ensure these areas are more resilient to future flooding impacts.  NRCS purchases the permanent easements on eligible lands and restores the area to natural conditions. Private lands, local and state government lands are eligible if they are located in a floodplain, are not subject to tidal influence or action from storm waves, and meet one of the following requirements:

• Floodplain lands damaged by flooding at least once within the previous calendar year or subject to flood damage at least twice within the previous 10 years.

• Other lands within the floodplain that would contribute to the restoration of the flood storage and flow provide for control of erosion or improve the practical management of the floodplain easement.

• Lands that would be inundated or adversely impacted as a result of a dam breach.

To qualify, the land where permanent easements could be purchased must have been directly impacted by Hurricane Sandy.

Structures, including buildings, within the floodplain easement must be demolished and removed or relocated outside the 100-year floodplain or dam breach inundation area. For dam owners with Low or Significant Hazard Dams these acquired easements could mean future development could not occur in their dam breach inundation zone forcing their Hazard Class to change.  Acquired easements in floodplain areas provide an alternative measure to traditional EWP recovery, where it is determined that acquiring an easement in lieu of recovery measures is the more economical and prudent approach to reducing a threat to life or property.

NRCS will accept applications for EWP-FPE until Sept. 2, 2013. Interested landowners and government officials should contact their local USDA Service Center to learn more about the program and submit an application prior to the Sept. 2 deadline. More information is also available on the NRCS Web Site: http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/detail/national/newsroom/releases/?cid=nrcs143_008225

Program signup forms are available online, including:

Form AD-1153, Application for Long-Term Contracted Assistance

Form AD-1157, Option Agreement to Purchase

Form AD-1161, Application for Payment

Virginians who would like to discuss details on floodplain easements may contact Melissa Hall at 804.786.8073 or Melissa.hall@dcr.virginia.gov. Those who wish additional information on dam break inundation zone easements may contact Robert J. VanLier, PE at 434.244.0653 or Robert.vanlier@dcr.virginia.gov

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