Natural disasters are unpredictable, and in severe cases can cause significant damage to our property and Ag Operations. If you’ve ever experienced the aftermath of a flood, hurricane, or wildfire, you know the toll it can take on the environment around you. While we hope you never experience such a catastrophic event, in the case that you do, the USDA Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) Program is here to help.
The EWP Program is available through the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and provides financial and technical assistance to help repair and prevent further damage caused by natural disasters. Some examples of qualifying weather events and the damage they can cause are:
Qualifying Weather Events:
- Floods: Flooding can cause extensive damage to infrastructure and properties, especially in areas where waterways are not properly maintained or have been clogged by debris.
- Fires: Wildfires can strip protective vegetation from upland sites, leaving them vulnerable to erosion and landslides. This can lead to severe adverse impacts and damage.
- Windstorms: Strong winds can cause significant damage to land and structures. They can also uproot trees and cause them to fall, creating hazards for people and properties.
- Hurricanes: Hurricanes can cause widespread damage to coastal communities, including flooding, landslides, and wind damage.
- Tornadoes: Tornadoes can cause extensive damage to structures, as well as infrastructure such as power lines and roads.
- Debris-clogged waterways: Debris in waterways can cause water to back up and flood nearby properties, as well as damage bridges and other infrastructure.
- Unstable streambanks: Erosion and flooding can cause streambanks to become unstable and prone to collapse, which can lead to property damage and safety hazards.
- Severe erosion jeopardizing public infrastructure: Erosion can damage roads, bridges, and other infrastructure, making them unsafe or even impassable.
- Wind-borne debris removal: After a storm, debris such as fallen trees and branches can create hazards for people and properties and must be removed.
- Damaged upland sites stripped of protective vegetation by fire or drought: Without protective vegetation, upland sites can be vulnerable to erosion and landslides, which can damage homes, roads, and infrastructure.
if you have experienced any of these types of damages to your property or infrastructure from a qualifying natural event, you may be eligible to apply for EWP if you own or manage the affected land or infrastructure.
The EWP Program isn’t limited to any one set of prescribed measures, meaning that NRCS completes a Damage Survey Report to determine what specific measures are necessary to protect life and property from additional damage. All EWP works of improvement must reduce the threat to life and property, be economically, environmentally, and socially defensible, and be technically sound.
Once a Damage Survey Result is completed and a plan of action is determined, NRCS will cover up to 75% of the cost towards recovery, and/or preventing any further potential impacts that may threaten life and property. If you have a Socially Disadvantaged CCC-860 certification on file with the FSA, the limit to cover costs is raised from 75% to 90%.
Can EWP help you? Subscribers to Ag Funding Assistance will receive convenient printable pdf forms, contact information for all programs, and text message reminders 5 days prior to deadlines and closing dates to help you apply for EWP through your local USDA / NRCS office. It’s a valuable resource for landowners who have suffered from natural disasters, and a great way to help you get the assistance you need to recover.