By Morgan Chow, Zach Ferdaña, and Laura Flessner
The Nature Conservancy, Global Oceans, Climate Risk & Resilience – Coastal Resilience
It turns out, a lot of people do.
The increasingly devastating impacts of flooding are forcing communities to reconsider how and where to invest their coastal resources. How can a city continue to grow and prosper and also preserve natural habitats that protect communities and valued infrastructure? To address this, The Nature Conservancy’s (TNC) Coastal Resilience Team developed a decision support tool to encourage communities to participate in the Community Rating System (CRS), a voluntary program administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) within the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) that encourages more comprehensive floodplain management by offering flood insurance reductions for performing activities that reduce flood risk. The CRS Explorer is a stakeholder-driven web-based mapping application (app) that uses the most current data to identify areas within a community that are currently and potentially eligible for Open Space Preservation (OSP) credit. OSP is one of many activities within CRS, and aligns with TNC’s mission to illustrate the value of nature-based solutions to reduce flood risk while also providing the largest amount of CRS points to communities. More points equate to a larger flood insurance premium reduction.
As the CRS Explorer expands, TNC is leading a Community Rating System (CRS) Strategy with the Digital Coast Partnership – a coalition of organizations that deliver necessary tools and information to coastal communities for a more resilient future. The CRS Strategy aims to coordinate, promote, and enhance community participation in CRS through decision support tool development and stakeholder engagement. As part of the stakeholder engagement, Digital Coast Partners are hosting a series of integrated trainings focused on CRS tools. The first of the training series was held this past October at the Land Trust Alliance Rally in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The session highlighted tools created by Associated State of Floodplain Managers (ASFPM) and Coastal States Organization (CSO); The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and partners; and NOAA’s Office of Coastal Management. When presented together, these complimentary tools showcase the wide range of involvement communities can have in the CRS program. A first-time CRS community may examine NOAA’s Coastal Flood Exposure Mapper or ASFPM and CSO’s CRS Green Guide to scope the extent to which they would benefit from participation, while a community that wants to invest more resources into getting the most out of CRS may opt for TNC’s CRS Explorer. These sessions offer an actionable path forward for communities with various levels of capacity to take full advantage of the economic and flood risk reduction benefits of the CRS program.
As interest in the CRS program and the associated tools continues to grow, the CRS Strategy will guide the development and expansion of CRS tools and integrated training sessions across the nation.
Upcoming CRS trainings include:
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