Wednesday, August 31, 2016

FEMA Opens Comment Period For Proposed Rule Changes

A while back (meaning almost 2 years ago in February 2015), we had a blog post to bring attention to the new Federal Executive Order (EO) signed by President Obama, EO 13690.  In that post, we also wrote about how the federal standard regarding flood risks was being updated as a result of the new updated EO.  The federal standard is called the Federal Flood Risk Management Standard (FFRMS) and is an update to how we as a country look at and review development in floodplains when using federal money.  The new FFRMS lays out a process going beyond the minimum standards established for the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), trying to acknowledge and plan for adaptation to climate change.  This includes the type of data that should be used to assess floodplain risk, the types of approaches that should be used to considered how to avoid & minimize flood risk, etc.  At FEMA's summary website about the FFRMS, they have posted FAQ sheets from FEMA, the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), and Housing & Urban Development (HUD) responding to comments that were received on the draft FFRMS document put out for public comment.

In order to implement the Federal Flood Risk Management Standard, FEMA has opened a public comment period on their proposed rule changes to comply with the new Federal EO.  While these rule changes would only apply to Federal projects or projects where a federal action is taken (it would not affect the minimum requirements of the NFIP), you may be interested to learn more about FEMA's proposed rule changes to implement the FFRMS, and to submit comments.  The comment period for FEMA's proposal to amend its regulations for "Floodplain Management & Protection of Wetlands" is open until October 21, 2016.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

ASFPM Riverine Erosion Hazard 2016 White Paper

Over the past 15 months, Mike Kline and Rebecca Pfeiffer from our Vermont Rivers Program have been working on a riverine erosion paper with other practitioners from across the country.  The paper was recently presented to the executive committee of the Association of State Floodplain Managers (ASFPM) as a Discussion Paper.  The Executive Committee thought it was so well done and connected with the paper's recommendations that they decided to adopt it as ASFPM Policy in the form of a White Paper.  You can read more about the paper here, or link directly to it from here:

Friday, January 8, 2016

VPR Story about VT's River Corridor Program

Happy New Year everyone!  On the first day of 2016, Vermont Public Radio (VPR) aired a story about the Vermont Rivers Program and our partners work to protect river corridors in Stowe and throughout Vermont. Kathleen Masterson reported this piece, and interviewed our VT Rivers Program manager, Mike Kline, along with Tom Jackman, Planning Director for the Town of Stowe, Heather Furman, the Vermont state director for the Nature Conservancy and Caitrin Maloney of the Stowe Land Trust.  If you have an extra 5 minutes to spare, it's worth the listen.  You can find the story here on VPR's website

Monday, January 4, 2016

New Maps in Bennington County!

The long-anticipated Bennington County Digital Flood Insurance Rate Map became effective 12/2/2015.  The data can now be found online at:

The FEMA Map Service Center allows users to search by address and find the effective and historic flood maps for any location.  The MSC also has the Flood Insurance Study and Letters of Map Amendment.  Outside of the areas with Digital Flood Insurance Rate Maps the MSC has scanned copies of the “white/paper” FIRMs.

The Vermont Natural Resource Atlas has two online platforms.  The Html 5 version can be used by all computers and browsers.  The Silverlight version requires Internet Explorer and a PC that can load the Microsoft Silverlight software (a fairly quick process).

Where there are DFIRMs available, the MSC allows users to download GIS versions of the Special Flood Hazard Areas and other vector data.

The Vermont Center for Geographic Information will also post the GIS data later this month.

On the Flood Ready Atlas you can find a specialized layer for Flood Hazard Mapping that shows areas of Vermont with effective DFIRMs.

With the process in Bennington County completed no other flood map updates are scheduled by FEMA in Vermont.  This leaves large areas of the state with old maps needing attention.  Any future map work by FEMA will be handled through the RiskMAP approach.  RiskMAP uses a HUC-8 watershed boundary as the basis of map updates.  This would be the equivalent of the Missisquoi or Passumpsic River watersheds.