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Get Paid to Leave Your Land Alone

March 17, 2009 — If you have property that frequently floods, the U.S. Department of Agriculture may pay you to restore the land to a natural state and forego future development.
"An owner of any parcel of land that has been damaged by flooding once in the last 12 months, or twice in the last 10 years, is eligible to apply for the program, which is authorized as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009," Gov. John deJongh Jr. said in a Government House Statement.
The program authorizes a total of $145 million for USDA to buy conservation easements for flood plains. No state or territory can receive more than $30 million in easement payments.
The deadline for applying to USDA is March 27. Under the easement program, a qualified landowner will receive a payment from USDA for agreeing to restore the land to its natural state and to forego future development. You keep title to the land but sell the right to develop it. The USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service will hold the easements.
To be eligible, your land must have been damaged by flooding once within the past year or twice in the past decade. Interested landowners should contact Juan Martinez, Caribbean Area Director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Hato Rey, Puerto Rico, at (787) 766-5206, or at www.pr.usda.gov. You can also call the St. Croix USDA Service Center in Gallows Bay at (340) 692-9662. Information is also available from Julito Francis, director of the Office of Economic Opportunity, at (340) 714-1635.
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