On 10 September 2010, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) requested and was approved for a one-year extension to the September 2010 date for compliance with a Biological Opinion (BiOp) on the effects of FEMA's National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) on listed salmon species under the Endangered Species Act throughout Puget Sound. The BiOp was released on 22 September 2008 by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS).
The BiOp, required by a decision by the U.S. District Court on 15 November 2004, found 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.
Since the BiOp was released, FEMA has developed a draft model ordinance that provides communities with a template they can use as one pathway for meeting the floodplain development criteria. FEMA also has held numerous focus groups and public presentations with communities on FEMA’s plans for implementing the BiOp.
During the coming year, FEMA and NMFS, in cooperation with the Puget Sound Partnership, will be co-hosting a conference that will explore the implications of the BiOp and how it can be integrated with work already in progress on the State and local levels, pursuant to Governor Gregoire’s request to integrate these efforts with work already being done.
“We envision this as a forum to exchange information, demystify what the new requirements for the NFIP are, and to answer questions regarding implementation of the BiOp from all sectors,” said William W. Stelle, Jr., Regional Administrator for NMFS.
Now all 122 affected NFIP communities in Puget Sound will have until September 2011 to bring their floodplain management regulations in line with NMFS’s BiOp.
“This demonstration of continued partnership between FEMA and NMFS will afford both local communities and State agencies the opportunity to join together in managing floodplains that reduce damages from flooding and protect important fisheries resources,” said FEMA Regional Administrator Kenneth Murphy.
FEMA's mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.