The Open Space Council Blog


FEMA Credits for Open Space Preservation

October 11, 2017


Example of the GIS output for a parcel that qualifies for Open Space Preservation credit 
(from the GIS Workflow "how to" guide; p. 21). aSFHA stands for impact-adjusted special 
flood hazard area.


Three questions for you:

1.  What does fire have to do with floods?

2.  What does open space preservation have to do with homeowner flood insurance premiums?

3.  What new tool just made it easier for land conservation organizations and land use planners to identify eligible open space and floodplain preservation opportunities, which can lead to lower flood insurance premiums?


Wildfire can worsen flooding because they can cause the soils to turn hydrophobic, especially in sandy or loamy soils. This can lead to flashier, more dangerous, and more costly flooding. The National Flood Insurance Program, administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), offers discounted flood insurance premiums to communities that make efforts to protect against flooding. The Community Rating System is a voluntary incentive program that allows landowners to pay reduced flood insurance premiums based on the whole community’s flood preparedness. Think of it as credits for ecosystem services.

But has your community earned National Flood Insurance Program credits for your preserved open space, which can lower flood insurance premiums for all landowners in your jurisdiction? While the Community Rating System has been around since the mid-90’s, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office for Coastal Management and their partners just made it easier for regions and communities to apply for credit.  

This new step-by-step guide helps land conservation organizations and land use planners identify eligible open space and floodplain preservation opportunities. This is another way landowners can reap financial rewards from preserving the parts of their properties that provide community hazard risk reduction benefits. And that’s a good thing. Here’s where to get more information:


Want to talk to a person about the “how to” guide? Contact Melissa Rosa at NOAA’s Oakland office:

Melissa Rosa
West Coast Geospatial Specialist
NOAA Office for Coastal Management
Oakland, CA
Phone: 510-637-3796
Email: [email protected]