How to Map Open Space for Community Rating System Credit

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When communities reduce flood risk, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) can offer discounts on flood insurance premiums for policyholders. Participant communities in FEMA’s Community Rating System receive credits to determine the amount. One way to earn credits is by preserving floodplains. Conserving this open space and implementing land use policies that encourage development away from wetlands, dunes, and other naturally protective features allows a floodplain to serve its natural function and absorb excess water during a flood event.

This “how-to” provides a step-by-step approach for earning this credit (CRS Activity 420) in areas that are already protected, and identifying places where additional credit could be earned through future preservation efforts. It also provides templates and worksheets to compile verification information. The steps draw from FEMA’s Community Rating System Coordinator’s Manual (2017), and reference related elements in other Community Rating System activities, such as floodplain mapping (Activity 410).

About the Resource (1:50)

Seven-Step Process:

  1. Calculate the community’s special flood hazard area
  2. Identify lands that may qualify for open space preservation credit
  3. Exclude areas that do not qualify for open space credit
  4. Calculate the possible credit for the community’s preserved open space
  5. Determine whether preserved open space parcels qualify for “extra credit”
  6. Gather supporting documentation for each parcel or area
  7. Identify opportunities to earn more open space credit

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