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Second Appeal Letter
PA ID# 000-U03AE-00; Florida Department of Environmental Protection
PW ID# PW 20; Sea Oat Plant Replacement Costs
December 15, 2011
Florida Division of Emergency Management
2555 Shumard Oak Boulevard
Tallahassee, Florida 32399-2100
Re: Second Appeal–Florida Department of Environment Protection, PA ID 000U03AE-00, Eligibility, FEMA-1806-DR-FL, Project Worksheet (PW) 20
Dear Mr. Koon:
This letter is in response to a letter from your office dated February 21, 2011, which transmitted the referenced second appeal on behalf of the Florida Department of Environment Protection (Applicant). The Applicant is appealing the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) denial of funding in the amount of $262,400 for the replacement of sea oat plants on the dunes at St. George Island State Park.
In 2008, storm surge resulting from Hurricane Gustav destroyed an estimated 175,000 sea oat plants on the dunes at St. George Island State Park. The sea oats were originally planted in a project funded by the Florida Legislature following Hurricane Ivan in 2004. The objective of the 2004 project was to stabilize the dune system and prevent dune erosion. In 2008, the Applicant requested $262,500 to replace sea oats that were destroyed as a result of Hurricane Gustav. The Applicant did not request funding for the sand dunes or for any sand from the natural beach area where the sea oats were originally planted. On March 16, 2009, FEMA prepared Project Worksheet (PW) 20 and denied the Applicant’s request for Public Assistance funding because the dunes are part of the natural beach and are therefore not an eligible facility.
The Applicant submitted a first appeal on December 31, 2009, which was transmitted by the Florida Division of Emergency Management (State) to FEMA on February 24, 2010. The Applicant stated that the sea oats had been planted for the purpose of dune erosion control and that St. George Island State Park personnel maintained the beach and dunes on a regular basis. On July 22, 2010, the Regional Administrator cited 44 Code of Federal Regulations (44 CFR) §206.201(c), Definitions used in the subpart, Facility, and 44 CFR §206.226(j)(2), Restoration of damaged facilities, Beaches, as the basis for denying the first appeal. The Regional Administrator determined that the St. George Island State Park dunes do not meet the definition of an eligible facility. The Regional Administrator further indicated that only improved beaches with an established maintenance program may be eligible for assistance.
The State submitted a second appeal on behalf of the Applicant on February 21, 2011, reiterating position articulated in the first appeal. Neither the Applicant nor the State provided additional information to support the second appeal.
Under 44 CFR 206.201(c), “an improved and maintained natural feature” is included in the definition of “Facility.” The Applicant stated that planting of the sea oats is an erosion control measure and should therefore be eligible for Public Assistance funding. Disaster Assistance Policy 9524.5, Trees, Shrubs, and Other Plantings Associated with Facilities, dated July 18, 2007, does allow for planting grasses as an erosion control measure, but only when such plantings are associated with the repair or restoration of an otherwise eligible facility. Erosion control measures are not eligible on an unimproved natural feature. On August 12, 2011, FEMA requested information from the Applicant to document that the natural dunes at St. George Island State Park are an improved and maintained natural feature. The Applicant did not submit the requested information to establish that the dunes were improved and maintained natural features. Therefore, the natural dunes at St. George Island State Park are not an eligible facility under FEMA regulations.
I have reviewed the information submitted with the appeal and have determined that the Regional Administrator’s decision is consistent with Public Assistance regulations and policy. Accordingly, I am denying the second appeal.
Please inform the Applicant of my decision. This determination is the final decision on this matter pursuant to 44 CFR §206.206, Appeals.
cc: Major P. May
FEMA Region IV