CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — In response to recent flooding impacting many parts of the nation, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service announced that $217.5 million is available to dedicate to funding conservation easements on certain lands damaged by flooding and other natural disasters.

Funding comes from an emergency supplemental appropriations bill President Donald Trump signed in June that provides $4.5 billion to USDA for agricultural-related losses, emergency timber restoration, farmland repair and watershed recovery work to help America’s farmers and ranchers.

Funds are made available through the Floodplain Easement component of the Emergency Watershed Protection Program. The 11 states currently identified for funding include: Arkansas, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, South Dakota, Texas and Wisconsin. These states will receive $101 million in funds to help restore damaged floodplains.

“We clearly have some locations where landowners and farmers find themselves in a difficult situation due to persistent flooding. By using EWPP-FPE funding, we can offer an easement alternative for them to consider,” said Ivan Dozier, state conservationist.

Illinois funding targets Alexander County’s southern tip, known as Dog Tooth Bend. The area exists where the Mississippi River meanders around Illinois and meets up with the Ohio River, often leaving no place for rising floodwaters to go.

Landowners in Dog Tooth Bend will have access to approximately $5.9 million in federal financial assistance. The deadline individuals to sign up for the EWPP-FPE is Aug. 20. NRCS will hold an informational meeting at the Olive Branch Community Center at 6 p.m. on Aug. 12.

The EWPP-FPE program is a voluntary program through which 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 disasters. NRCS will work to restore the easement to its natural floodplain condition.

Property owners interested in applying for EWPP-FPE can review program information on the Floodplain Easement webpage. More information about the EWPP-FPE can be obtained from local USDA NRCS field offices or by visiting www.il.nrcs.usda.gov.

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