We've been working hard to promote the Community Rating System (CRS) along Virginia's tidal floodplains. A program of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), CRS rewards localities that take extra steps to flood-proof their communities by reducing the premiums charged for flood insurance. What gets Wetlands Watch excited is some of the greatest rewards come from preserving opens space in flood plains, open space that has wetlands on it and will offer "retreat" zones for wetlands as sea levels rise.
The problem is that getting into the CRS requires a fair amount of staff work and training in what is a fairly complicated program. These up-front barriers are often cited as reasons that more localities do not participate in the program - only 9% of Virginia localities participate. We know that over time the benefits from participaing in the CRS program are large, but we had not been able to prove it.
Now we can, thanks to the Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program that gave us a grant to figure out the costs and benefits of being a part of the CRS. We just finished a report that shows the benefits of being part of the CRS far outweigh the costs of participating.