NB_300_13_33 - NB 300-13-33 LTP – Guidance for Processing Hurricane Sandy Emergency Watershed Protection Program-Floodplain Easements (EWPP-FPE) Applications and Reporting Requirements
NB 300-13-33 LTP – Guidance for Processing Hurricane Sandy Emergency Watershed Protection Program-Floodplain Easements (EWPP-FPE) Applications and Reporting Requirements
National Bulletin: 300-13-33  Date: July 5, 2013
Subject: LTP – Guidance for Processing Hurricane Sandy Emergency Watershed Protection Program-Floodplain Easements (EWPP-FPE) Applications and Reporting Requirements


Action Required By: October 15, 2013
 
Purpose. To announce the anticipated signup period for Hurricane Sandy EWPP-FPE applications and provide phase one of programmatic guidance to States for processing EWPP-FPE applications.  
 
Expiration Date.  September 30, 2014    
 
Background. Funding for EWPP-FPE was approved for States impacted by Hurricane Sandy through the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013 (Public Law 113-2 (127 Stat. 4)).  This bulletin communicates the Hurricane Sandy specific EWPP-FPE procedures and the estimated timeline States will follow while processing EWPP-FPE applications and completing reporting requirements.  Detailed EWPP-FPE policy and procedures can be found in the EWPP manual (Title 390, National Emergency Watershed Protection Program Manual (NEWPPM), Part 514) and the Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) manual (Title 440, Conservation Programs Manual (CPM), Part 514).        
 
Explanation. The signup period for Hurricane Sandy EWPP-FPE is anticipated to begin on Monday, July 8, 2013, but the official starting date has not yet been confirmed.  Although the signup period start date is subject to change, the EWPP-FPE implementation timeline included in this guidance package is based on the July 8 starting date to allow States to begin planning for programmatic deadlines.  To avoid confusion, States should not publicize or make announcements of the sign up period until instructed to do so by the Deputy Chief for Programs.  At that time, an editable template press release, developed to allow State-specific information to be added, will be provided to States.

The EWPP-FPE signup period will run for 8 weeks, with a tentative starting date of Monday, July 8, and ending on Monday, September 2, 2013.  During this time period, States will work with applicants to develop EWPP-FPE easement request packages.   The request packages must be uploaded to the Hurricane Sandy EWPP-FPE SharePoint site, a link to the site is provided in the “Uploading Hurricane Sandy EWPP-FPE Easement Request Packages” section, for review and selection fo projects for funding by NHQ.  Once uploaded, the packages will be reviewed and used by National Headquarters (NHQ) to assist in the process of selecting projects for funding.  A brief description of documents required for the easement request packages can be found below.  More detailed instructions can be found in 390-NEWPPM, Part 514, Subpart B, and 440–CPM, Part 514, Subpart B, as applicable.  Interested landowners must use the AD-1153 to apply for EWPP-FPE.  The form can be obtained from the eForms Web site at http://forms.sc.egov.usda.gov/eForms.

EWPP-FPE Easement Request Packages

An easement request package must be developed for every eligible EWPP-FPE application received during the 8-week signup period.  These packages must include documentation of eligibility and will eventually be used by NHQ to make funding selections.  More detailed information regarding programmatic eligibility requirements can be found in subpart B of the EWPP manual.  Every State-developed Hurricane Sandy EWPP-FPE easement request package must contain the following items:

General Documentation

1) Complete “Hurricane Sandy EWPP-FPE Easement Request Package Checklist,” which is included in this guidance package, and associated documents

2) Signed “Application for Long-Term Contracted Assistance” (AD-1153) available at http://forms.sc.egov.usda.gov/eForms

3) A GIS-developed, aerial-imagery-based map showing the location and boundary and legal access of the application

4) A map showing areas of flood damage on the application area

Documentation of Landowner Eligibility

1) Proof of ownership – a copy of the ownership vesting deed.

2) If the landowner is an entity, the entity must provide—

a. A list of the individuals who comprise the entity, including the percent of ownership for each individual.

b. Documents that show the entity to be legal and valid in the State where the application was submitted.

c. Data Universal Number System (DUNS) number; more information is available at https://eupdate.dnb.com/requestoptions.html.

d. Registration with the System for Awards Management (SAM); more information is available at https://www.sam.gov/portal/public/SAM/.   

3) Legal documentation of signature authority.

4) Documentation that the warranty easement deed was explained to the applicant.

5) Complete “Landowner Disclosure Worksheet.”

6) Applicants must be willing to comply with the terms of the easement, any other agreements that might be necessary to complete the transaction, and restoration of the easement, including the demolition or removal of structures present on the property.  Once the EWPP-FPE terms have been fully explained to applicants, their signature on the AD-1153 verifies this willingness.

Note:  Since EWPP-FPE is not a Farm Bill program, applicants are not required to meet the adjusted gross income, highly erodible land, or wetland conservation requirements of the Farm Bill.  Also, the WRP 7-year ownership provision is not applicable to EWPP-FPE.

Documentation of Land Eligibility

1)    Documentation of flood damage and proof that damage was a result of Hurricane Sandy.  Acceptable evidence includes insurance claims, newspaper or other publication clippings, or any other documentation that links the flood damage directly to Hurricane Sandy.

Note:  Documentation of damage and proof that the damage was a result of Hurricane Sandy is required.  States must provide indisputable evidence.  Applications lacking adequate documentation will be deemed ineligible.

2)  A color map developed by using the FEMA “Flood Map Viewer,” available at https://hazards.fema.gov/femaportal/wps/portal, showing the location of the applications relative to the ineligible FEMA “Coastal” Flood Zones (Zones V, VE or V1-30) must also be provided.

3) Documentation showing that the application lies within a county where the Stafford Act disaster declaration was made. 

Ranking Information

1) Complete and signed EWPP-FPE ranking form.  States are responsible for the development of their own EWPP-FPE ranking criteria.  Ranking forms must assign a numerical value to applications.  States may use previously developed EWPP-FPE ranking forms, such as those used for ranking American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) FPEs.    States may edit the criteria to assist them in identifying the highest priority applications.  State-developed ranking scores, along with several national ranking criteria, listed below in the “EWPP-FPE Selection Process,” will also be used by NHQ during the funding selection process.

2) NRCS-developed preliminary restoration plan signed by the applicant.  Preliminary plans must include proposed restoration practices and cost estimates.  Although these plans are “rough drafts” of anticipated restoration practices and costs, estimates should be developed using the best information available.  More detailed final restoration plans will be developed, with fund obligations based those estimates, for applications that are selected for funding.  The applicant signature is required to ensure that the applicant reviewed the potential practices and is accepting of the preliminary restoration plan. 

Note:  Restoration on floodplain easements will include all necessary conservation practices, measures, and activities required to restore the floodplain functions and values to its natural conditions to the greatest extent practicable.

3) States must submit a list of all applications and ranking scores along with easement request packages.  If a State recommends a project for funding outside of a strictly applied ranking order, written justification for the deviation must be included with the easement request package.

Additional Application Information

1) State-developed timeline for each application showing estimated easement closing and restoration completion dates.  If circumstances exist that may delay closing or if extensive permitting requirements for restoration is anticipated, States must clearly note that delays are possible.

2) Clearly identified cost estimates for easement purchase, due diligence and restoration.

3) Large-scale map showing location of application relative to other protected or restored areas.

4) Projects that require the relocation or demolition of residences or other structures in areas where the primary land use is residential housing must include evidence that a project sponsor is willing to buy remaining land in fee title.

5) Projects that depend upon the restoration of an entire reach of floodplain must include documentation that every residence or structure within the reach will be removed from the subject floodplain to allow for complete floodplain restoration.

6) Preliminary “Certificate of Inspection and Possession.”

7) The “Hazardous Substance Examination Checklist.”

8) Preliminary due diligence information (AAI Hazardous Materials Search) submission is optional.

 

NEST Reporting Requirements

As with other easement programs, all EWPP-FPE applications must be entered into NEST upon receipt.  EWPP-FPE applications entered in NEST must have an application date from within the official signup period of July 8, 2013, to September 1, 2013.  Upon entering EWPP-FPE applications into NEST, States will also be required to assign the correct “group project/special initiatives name” to each application.  For Hurricane Sandy EWPP-FPE applications, the group project name must be recorded as “Hurricane Sandy FPE” in NEST.  It is imperative that States enter all applications and that the status of these applications be kept up to date as they progress through the application and enrollment process. 

Note:  The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has put in place stringent EWPP-FPE progress reporting requirements.  To meet these requirements, EPD will rely heavily on State-entered data pulled from NEST.  Hurricane Sandy EWPP-FPE data will be reviewed frequently to verify that States are maintaining their records in accordance with program guidelines.

Uploading EWPP-FPE Easement Request Packages

A Hurricane Sandy EWPP-FPE folder has been set up on the national EWPP SharePoint site.  Once EWPP-FPE easement request packages are compiled and reviewed for completeness, States must upload the complete packages to the SharePoint site.  The name of the folder on the EWPP SharePoint site where uploads should be made is “State Sandy FPE Easement Request Packages” and can be accessed via the link below.

https://nrcs.sc.egov.usda.gov/st/eng/EWP/State/Forms/AllItems.aspx?RootFolder=%2fst%2feng%252fEWP%2fState%2fFloodplain%20Easements %20%2d%20Hurricane%20Sandy&FolderCTID=&View= %7bE64FFBA7%2d57D6%2d4A6F%2d9495%2d373E1A0E2005%7d

In the easement request package folder, a folder for each State participating in Hurricane Sandy EWPP-FPE has been created.  Within that folder, States will create new folders for each individual application they receive.  The folders’ names must begin with the two-letter State abbreviation of the State and end in the last four digits of the NEST-generated application number (e.g., NY-1HF3).  States may include other information in the folder name, but the name must begin and end as described above (e.g., NY-Smith-1HF3 is acceptable).  States will upload complete EWPP-FPE easement request packages to the appropriate folder once their completeness has been verified.  Only complete application packages should be uploaded; partial or incomplete packages should be held by States until all required documentation is obtained because incomplete application packages will not be considered for funding in the initial round of project selection.  Once selections are made, States will be notified of which projects were selected for funding.  The deadline for uploading complete EWPP-FPE easement request packages is October 15, 2013.  However, application packages may be uploaded at any time before the deadline. 

FPE Project Selection Process

After all eligible EWPP-FPE easement request packages are uploaded to the EWPP-FPE SharePoint site, NHQ will begin the review and selection process.  During this review, NHQ will verify that all required documentation is included in the packages with special emphasis on verifying that adequate evidence that damages were incurred as a result of Hurricane Sandy.  Funding selections will be made based on State’s ranking scores and the overall benefits of the proposed projects along with national selection criteria, such as the following:

1)    Extent of flood damage

2)    Restoration of entire reach of subject floodplain

3)    Restoration of connectivity of waterway to historic floodplain

4)    Project location relative to other protected or restored lands

5)    Likelihood of successful restoration

6)    Likelihood of timely easement closing and completion of restoration

a. Any preexisting conditions that might delay closing

b. Complex permit requirements that could slow restoration implementation

EPD’s review of easement request packages will begin on October 16, 2013, and will conclude with NHQ’s selection of applications for funding on or around November 15, 2013.  After selections are made, States will be informed and can begin the easement enrollment process on selected projects.  Applications not selected for funding should be maintained as subsequent funding rounds could be possible.  Once all project funding selections are made, guidance on handling applications not selected for funding will be issued.

The above instructions conclude phase-one guidance for implementation and processing of Hurricane Sandy EWPP-FPE applications.  Before EWPP-FPE project funding selection are made by NHQ, phase-two guidance, which will detail enrollment, valuation, closing, and restoration of Hurricane Sandy EWPP-FPE, will be issued to States.  Due to the dynamic nature of EWPP-FPE program implementation, States should keep in mind that completion dates and other programmatic milestones will likely change.  For that reason, it is essential for States and EPD to maintain good communication throughout the process.

 
Contact.   If States have any questions or comments relating to Hurricane Sandy EWPP-FPE implementation, they should be addressed to Andrew James, acting national EWPP-FPE manager, at (202) 720-1067 or Jessica Groves, acting Programs Team leader, at (202) 720-1864.    
 
 

 /s/

ANTHONY J. KRAMER
Deputy Chief for Programs   
 
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