Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today the selection of approximately $19.2 million in funding for floodplain easements to help the victims of Hurricane Sandy and prevent future damage in flood-prone areas in the Northeast region. Vilsack 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 (NRCS) Emergency Watershed Protection Program (EWP-FPE).
"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 Vilsack. "This funding is helping residents ensure that when disaster strikes, all possible measures have been taken to mitigate damage from floods, protect communities and save lives. The new floodplain easements we're announcing today are one part of a comprehensive approach to learn from Hurricane Sandy and increase our resilience for the future."
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 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.