College places 130 acres in Emergency Watershed Protection Program

Sept. 15, 2009

Luther College has been approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to place 130 acres into the Emergency Watershed Protection Program–Floodplain Easements.

By entering the EWP-FPE program, Luther has agreed to grant a permanent easement of the 130 acres to the NRCS, promising to restore the native habitat of the bottomland and never develop or utilize the ground for cropland. 

The Luther Board of Regents and Biology Department are working together to develop restoration plans. 

The project will be developed on the college’s river border property near the junction of U.S. Highway 52 and Pole Line Road northwest of the city of Decorah.  The nature environment restoration project is part of Luther’s sustainability plan to reduce the college’s carbon footprint and promote sustainable use of the college’s resources.

Restoration of EWP-FPE sites includes seeding native plants, plugging drainage ditches, breaking and blocking tile lines, breaking diversions and breaching existing flood control levees.

Shallow water excavation work will also be done to enhance surface water environments and improve habitats for wetland-dependent wildlife species. 

The EWP-FPE’s primary emphasis is to retire frequently flooded floodplains from agricultural uses.  This provides an unimpeded flow of floodwaters, improves the wildlife habitat, and eliminates the need for future disaster payments on frequently flooded cropland.

To be eligible for the program, the land proposed for easement must be cropland, pasture or timber that has been damaged by flooding within the past year or at least two times in the past 10 years. 

For more information on the EWP-FPS program, visit www.ia.nrcs.usda.gov.