NRCS offers additional $75 million in emergency funds to restore flood-prone lands

The Rolla Daily News

The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has set an Oct. 9 deadline to apply for Emergency Watershed Protection Program-Floodplain Easement (EWPP-FPE). NRCS announced on Wednesday the availability of an additional $75 million dedicated to funding conservation easements on certain lands damaged by flooding and other natural disasters.

The EWPP-FPE  focuses on restoring damage that occurred in the 2018 and 2019 calendar years, as well as other natural disasters. Funds are made available through the floodplain easement component of the EWPP-FPE. The 83 counties in Missouri currently identified for funding include: Adair, Andrew, Atchison, Barry, Barton, Bates, Benton, Bollinger, Boone, Buchanan, Caldwell, Callaway, Camden, Cape Girardeau, Carroll, Cedar, Chariton, Clark, Clay, Cole, Cooper, Dade, Dallas, Daviess, Douglas, Dunklin, Gasconade, Gentry, Grundy, Harrison, Henry, Hickory, Holt, Howard, Howell, Jackson, Jasper, Knox, Laclede, Lafayette, Lewis, Lincoln, Linn, Livingston, Macon, Maries, Marion, McDonald, Mercer, Miller, Mississippi, Monroe, Montgomery, New Madrid, Newton, Nodaway, Ozark, Pemiscot, Perry, Pike, Platte, Pulaski, Putnam, Ralls, Randolph, Ray, Saline, Schuyler, Scotland, Scott, Shannon, Shelby, St. Charles, St. Clair, Ste. Genevieve, Stoddard, Sullivan, Taney, Texas, Vernon, Wayne, Webster and Wright.

“Missouri has faced significant challenges from flooding and natural disasters,” said Missouri NRCS State Conservationist Scott Edwards. “We are committed to providing relief and assisting agricultural landowners during this difficult time.  The Floodplain Easement Program offers an option that alleviates the stress of operating in a floodplain while still retaining ownership of their property.”

On June 6, 2019, President Trump signed an emergency supplemental appropriations bill providing relief and support to America’s farmers and ranchers. The bill provided $4.5 billion to the Department of Agriculture (USDA) for agricultural-related losses, emergency timber restoration, farmland repair and watershed recovery work to help America’s farmers and ranchers.  Since then, USDA has converted EWPP-Recovery funding to EWPP-FPE funds. These funds provide the opportunity for additional EWPP-FPE sign-ups and project selections to the 11 states identified as affected by the 2018 and 2019 flooding and other natural disasters.

The EWPP-FPE program is a voluntary program where eligible applicants agree to sell a permanent conservation easement to the United States through NRCS. Compensation is based on the value of the easement as determined by an appraisal or market analysis. These easements may occur on public or private agricultural land or residential properties damaged by flooding and natural disaster. NRCS will work to restore the easement to it natural floodplain condition.

Individuals and communities in the 83 counties are encouraged to contact their local NRCS field offices for more information on these floodplain easement opportunities.