FEMA: Reconciling the Endangered Species Act and NFIP in Puget Sound

A 2008 NOAA biological opinion on the effects of the National Flood Insurance Program on Pacific NW salmon dramatically changed how that program will be implemented for 122 Puget Sound communities. According to FEMA Regional Administrator Ken Murphy, the opinion listed Reasonable and Prudent Alternatives (RPA) that could reconcile the NFIP with the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

"We fully believe that flood risk reduction and fisheries habitat protection are a good fit, and are certainly not mutually exclusive," said Murphy. "We're right on track, working in close partnership with federal, state, tribal and local partners to offer a menu of three voluntary actions that NFIP member communities can adopt to demonstrate success with the new standards."

FEMA has provided technical assistance, conferences and workshops to help effected communities implement the biological opinion. The options available include two programmatic paths - a model ordinance, and a community checklist - and a default option which would determine compliance permit-by-permit. Many communities already embrace environmentally friendly regulations and policies which compliment the performance standards of the biological opinion.

According to FEMA Mitigation Division Director Mark Carey, all 122 Puget Sound NFIP communities were notified in advance of their specific responsibilities in regards to the 22 September 2011 implementation date. "This has been an extremely complex process, and FEMA remains committed to offering technical assistance to effected communities as needed," said Carey. "We realize that this is going to take some time to fully implement, and are committed to the long-term success of our local partners."

Details on the NOAA NMFS biological opinion and information on FEMA's implementation of the opinion's RPA is available online: www.fema.gov/regionx/nfipesa.shtm.

FEMA's mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.

Published on: 2011-09-21

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