USDA to provide floodplain easement funding to aid post-Sandy recovery
By Carol Kim PBN Staff Writer
WASHINGTON — In an effort to prevent damages from future storm and flood events in Rhode Island, as well as other states affected by Hurricane Sandy, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service will provide up to $124.8 million in Emergency Watershed Protection Program-Floodplain Easement funding.
Floodplains are mostly flat lands adjacent to streams and rivers that periodically flood and store water. In this role, floodplains help protect lands downstream from future flood damage, according to a USDA release.
Healthy floodplains are important for improving flood water retention, ground water recharge, water quality and fish and wildlife habitat, said the release.
“Restoring these ecosystems ensures our lands are resilient to future threats and impacts,” R. Phou Vongkhamdy, conservationist at the Conservation Service, said in prepared remarks.
The floodplain easement program enables the Conservation Service to “purchase a permanent easement on lands within floodplains that sustained damage from Sandy,” the USDA reported. The program is intended to complement traditional disaster recovery funding. Program easements are permanent in term.
The Natural Resources Conservation Service will accept applications for Emergency Watershed Protection Program-Floodplain Easement from July 8 to Sept. 2.
Landowners interested in learning more about land eligibility or other aspects of the program should contact their local USDA Service Center, which they can find at: offices.sc.egov.usda.gov.