SEATTLE, Wash. -- On 22 September 2008, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) released a biological opinion on the effects of FEMA's National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) throughout Puget Sound. The opinion, required by a decision by the U.S. District Court on 15 November 2004, finds that the NFIP has the ability to change the way the program is implemented in Puget Sound communities to reduce impacts on critical habitat areas for certain species of salmon and Southern Resident killer whales. The court decision resulted from a lawsuit filed by the National Wildlife Federation (NWF vs FEMA).? According to Acting FEMA Regional Administrator Dennis Hunsinger, his agency is reviewing the entire biological opinion, and, over the next 30 days, will be working with communities to determine the best ways to implement some or all of the recommendations.
"The NFIP has a long and successful track record mitigating the loss of lives and property due to flooding," said Hunsinger.? "This opinion suggests that reasonable and prudent alternatives are available in administering the NFIP in Puget Sound floodplains which will avoid violation of FEMA's Endangered Species Act responsibilities."
Implementation of the NMFS biological opinion will change the way over 270 Puget Sound communities manage their floodplains.
"We will work together with communities to continue protecting Puget Sound-region residents from floods, while reducing our ecological footprint," continued Hunsinger.
FEMA Acting Assistant Administrator for Mitigation Michael Buckley agrees. "FEMA works closely with states and communities nationwide to help them better manage their flood-prone areas. We serve a primary purpose in reducing flood damage, and in many areas we're able to help communities protect fragile areas like wetlands," said Buckley. "It's our goal to protect both people and the environment and we'll be working closely with NMFS on how to do that more successfully."
The complete NOAA NMFS biological opinion is available at: http://www.nwr.noaa.gov/.
FEMA coordinates the federal government's role in preparing for, preventing, mitigating the effects of, responding to, and recovering from all domestic disasters, whether natural or man-made, including acts of terror.