Small Watersheds Flood Control Fund

Program Description and Objective (July 2009)Small Watershed Control Fund Brochure (June 2009)The Small Watersheds Flood Control Fund, established in 1963, is a revolving state fund used to help local sponsors acquire land rights, easements or fee titles to tracts of land necessary in building flood abatement projects. The Fund has primarily been used by sponsors of P.L. 566 Watershed Projects which are planned,designed, and principally funded by the Natural Resources Conservation Service. To be eligible for funding assistance, local sponsors such as natural resources districts, cities or counties must enter into an agreement with the Department of Natural Resources specifying a hydrologic unit (drainage area) and the total number of necessary land rights involved. The fund can be used to acquire, by easement or fee title, only one of every four necessary land rights for the specific project. Historically local sponsors have utilized the Fund to acquire the most expensive tracts needed. An additional requirement that a minimum 75% of the land in the drainage area above the structure be adequately treated prior to reservoir construction helps ensure project longevity. An appraisal prepared in accordance with state statutes must accompany each application for easement or fee title funds. After obtaining an easement, the eligible sponsor is reimbursed 50% of the appraised value. In the case of fee title acquisition, the sponsor normally receives 100% reimbursement or costshare assistance. Within 120 days after acquiring title to a tract, the sponsor must prepare a detailed conservation plan in cooperation with the Natural Resources Conservation Service identifying needed conservation measures. In most cases the sponsor leases out portions of the tract suitable for agricultural production and the rental income is used to install needed conservation practices to that tract or is returned to the Fund for future uses.

Tracts of land acquired by fee title must be disposed of (resold) within ten years of the tract purchase date. Each tract is first offered, at the current appraised value, to local subdivision of government such as adjacent cities, villages, counties, NRDs and state agencies such as the Nebraska Games and Parks Commission for public use. To date 21 tracts have been retained for public use by these entities. If no entity shows interest in purchasing the tract it is then sold to the highest bidder at public auction. A conservation easement is attached to the title of tracts sold to ensure that the land remains adequately treated and the conservation measures installed, including reservoirs, remain for 25 years after the date of sale. The proceeds of the sale are returned to the Fund and are used for future land rights acquisition assistance. When needed, the Fund receives appropriations from the legislature to help finance future flood abatement projects. With these appropriations, along with the proceeds from fee title tracts, land rental and interest monies the Fund has continued to meet the demand for land rights acquisition assistance and help in the development of local flood abatement projects throughout the state.