ASFPM & CSO Release Interactive CRS "Green Guide" Highlighting How Communities Can Earn Credit and Enhance Beneficial Floodplain Functions
Ask your average floodplain manager about the Community Rating System, and they will typically tell you that earning credit does two things. One, it makes your community more resilient to flooding, and two, it earns discounts for flood insurance policyholders. But the benefits of participating in this federal incentive program go far beyond reducing flood risk and losses. By participating in the CRS, communities can also protect and enhance the natural and beneficial functions of floodplains. Namely, maintaining habitat for fish and wildlife, enhancing water quality, increasing biodiversity and improving opportunities for recreation within communities.
To highlight these benefits, ASFPM's Flood Science Center and Coastal States Organization, two of nine Digital Coast partners, teamed up to create an interactive, online CRS Green Guide. The guide was designed to go beyond what can be found in the 2017 CRS Coordinator's Manual. It empowers communities already in the CRS to enhance their credits in 25 elements. It also encourages communities not in the program to join by showing examples of what other communities did to earn credit. To create the Guide, ASFPM and CSO staff reviewed the CRS Coordinator's Manual, identified elements within it that enhance or protect natural and beneficial functions of floodplains, reviewed top-scoring communities, and conducted interviews with these communities and CRS experts from across the nation to gain their insights.
The guide provides background information on the CRS program, including how to join, what communities can do to earn credit, best practices for success in the CRS, and an overview of the natural and beneficial functions of floodplains. It also includes brief "element profiles" on 25 green elements of the CRS. Each profile summarizes actions that are credited, the co-benefits they provide to communities, how difficult it would be for a community to implement and tips for success. In addition, the Green Guide features 16 element-specific community success stories. These stories were created by interviews with communities that are the best of the best in these green CRS elements. They also show how communities achieved success, challenges they encountered along the way, benefits afforded to communities as a result of their CRS participation, and helpful tools and resources that were created or used.
Bradley Watson, CSO's deputy director, said he saw many benefits to creating the CRS Green Guide.
"Participating in the FEMA CRS program provides the co-benefits of decreasing risk to flooding while also lowering flood insurance premiums," he said. "With this co-benefit approach in mind, the Green Guide is intended to help communities harness the multiple benefits of the CRS program by attaining credit for those elements that take advantage of the natural and beneficial functions of floodplains. We hope that this tool will prove useful in helping communities more easily take advantage of positive impacts of the CRS program."
Individuals who visit the guide can expect to learn from large, urban communities like Louisville-Jefferson County, KY as well as small towns like Bristol, RI about topics such as stormwater management, open space preservation, higher regulatory standards, floodplain management and land use planning and more. As a result, all communities should learn something from the CRS Green Guide that they could possibly use in their own communities! The creation of this tool is only the beginning. In the coming months ASFPM and CSO will also be hosting a series of workshops and webinars for communities interested in enhancing their scores in the green elements of the CRS.
If you have a success story you'd like to see included, contact ASFPM Project Research Specialist Bridget Faust at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Funding for this project is provided by the Department of the Interior through a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation's Hurricane Sandy Coastal Resiliency Competitive Grant Program. The views and conclusions contained in this document are those of the authors and should not be interpreted as representing the opinions or policies of the U.S. government or the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and its funding sources. Mention of trade names or commercial products does not constitute their endorsement by the U.S. government, or the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation or its funding sources.