(a) In general
The Secretary is authorized to undertake emergency watershed protection measures, including the purchase of floodplain easements, for runoff retardation and soil-erosion prevention, in cooperation with landowners and land users, as the Secretary deems necessary to safeguard lives and property from floods, drought, and the products of erosion on any watershed whenever fire, flood, or any other natural occurrence is causing or has caused a sudden impairment of that watershed.
(b) Floodplain easements (1) Modification and termination
The Secretary may modify or terminate a floodplain easement administered by the Secretary under this section if—
(A) the current owner agrees to the modification or termination; and
(B) the Secretary determines that the modification or termination—
(i) will address a compelling public need for which there is no practicable alternative; and
(ii) is in the public interest.
(2) Consideration (A) Termination
As consideration for termination of an easement and associated agreements under paragraph (1), the Secretary shall enter into compensatory arrangements as determined to be appropriate by the Secretary.
In the case of a modification under paragraph (1)—
(i) as a condition of the modification, the current owner shall enter into a compensatory arrangement (as determined to be appropriate by the Secretary) to incur the costs of modification; and
(ii) the Secretary shall ensure that—
(I) the modification will not adversely affect the floodplain functions and values for which the easement was acquired;
(II) any adverse impacts will be mitigated by enrollment and restoration of other land that provides greater floodplain functions and values at no additional cost to the Federal Government; and
(III) the modification will result in equal or greater environmental and economic values to the United States.
AMENDMENTS 2018—Pub. L. 115–334, §2403(d)(1), substituted "Emergency watershed program" for "Emergency measures" in section catchline. Subsec. (a). Pub. L. 115–334, §2403(d)(2), inserted "watershed protection" after "emergency". Pub. L. 115–334, §2403(a)(2)(A), substituted "The Secretary is" for "The Secretary of Agriculture is". 2014—Pub. L. 113–79 inserted section catchline, designated existing provisions as subsec. (a) and inserted heading, and added subsec. (b). 1996—Pub. L. 104–127 inserted ", including the purchase of floodplain easements," after "emergency measures".EFFECTIVE DATE Section effective Oct. 1, 1978, see section 406 of Pub. L. 95–334, set out as a note under section 2201 of this title.DISASTER ASSISTANCE FOR WATERSHED PROTECTION ACTIVITIES Pub. L. 100–387, title IV, §402, as added Pub. L. 101–82, title V, §503, Aug. 14, 1989, 103 Stat. 586, provided that: "(a) In General.—The Secretary of Agriculture may provide disaster relief assistance in accordance with this section to repair damage caused by storms occurring in 1988 or 1989 to watersheds located in any county in any State, to the extent that funds authorized by this section remain available. "(b) Form of Assistance.—The assistance authorized by this section— "(1) includes both financial and technical assistance; and "(2) shall be provided in a manner consistent with similar assistance authorized under section 403 of the Agricultural Credit Act of 1978 (16 U.S.C. 2203). "(c) Authorization of Appropriations.—There are authorized to be appropriated to carry out this section $25,000,000 for fiscal year 1990."
16 U.S.C. § 2203 (2018)