MI Emergency Watershed Protection Program (EWP) - Floodplain Easement

USDA: Natural Resources Conservation Service of Michigan

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Grant amount: Unspecified amount

Deadline: Rolling

Applicant type: Government Entity Indigenous Group Nonprofit

Funding uses: Project / Program

Location of project: Michigan

Location of residency: Michigan

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Emergency Watershed Protection - Floodplain Easement 

Section 382 of the Federal Agriculture Improvement and Reform Act of 1996, Public Law 104-127, amended the Emergency Watershed Protection Program (EWPP) to provide for the purchase of floodplain easements as an emergency measure. Since 1996, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has purchased floodplain easements on lands that qualify for EWPP assistance.

The Emergency Watershed Protection - Floodplain Easement Program (EWP-FPE) provides 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.

The easement area will be restored to the maximum extent practicable to its natural condition. Restoration utilizes structural and nonstructural practices to restore the flood storage and flow, erosion control, and improve the practical management of the easement.

Floodplain easements restore, protect, maintain, and enhance the functions of the floodplain; conserve natural values including fish and wildlife habitat, water quality, flood water retention, ground water recharge, and open space; reduce long-term federal disaster assistance; and safeguard lives and property from floods, drought, and the products of erosion.

Lands enrolled in the floodplain easement program will only be eligible for a permanent easement. Easement compensation will be determined by the lower of two values, either the Geographic Area Rate Cap (GARC) or the landowner offer. 

Restoration on floodplain easements will include all necessary conservation practices, measures and activities required to restore the floodplain functions and values. Cost-share for restoration will be 100% of the actual cost of installing the restoration practice

How does the program work?

Under the floodplain easement option, a landowner voluntarily offers to sell to NRCS a permanent conservation easement that provides NRCS with full authority to restore and enhance the floodplain’s functions and values. 

Can the land be used for other purposes?

At any time, a landowner may request authorization from NRCS to engage in other activities. However, allowable uses are restricted to only those that NRCS determines will further the protection and enhancement of the easement’s floodplain functions and values. These compatible uses may include managed timber harvest, periodic haying, or grazing, but landowners should not plan for continued use of this land for routine haying, grazing, or cropping. 

Landowner Use

After the sale of the permanent EWP-FPE easement, landowners still retain several property rights, including: 

  • The right to quiet enjoyment 
  • The right to control public access and
  • The right to undeveloped recreational use such as hunting and fishing

You can learn more about this opportunity by visiting the funder's website.


  • The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) may bear up to 75 percent of the construction cost of emergency measures.
    • The remaining 25 percent must come from local sources and can be in the form of cash or in-kind services.
  • To be eligible for a floodplain easement the land must:
    • Have been damaged by flooding at least twice within the previous 10 years or at least once in the last 12 months. 
    • Land would be inundated or adversely impacted as a result of a dam breach.
    • Be privately owned or owned by state or local units of government.
  • All EWP projects must be sponsored by a political subdivision of the State, such as a city, county, or Conservation District.


    • Cropping of the land under easement is not authorized.