What is the Community Rating System?

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Community Rating System (CRS) is a voluntary program that provides discounts on flood insurance premiums for communities that exceed the minimum requirements of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Under Community Rating System Activity 420: Open Space Preservation (OSP), a community can earn CRS credit for preserving open space within the regulatory floodplain. This OSP is achieved through land regulations that prohibit infill and new development in flood-prone areas and protect and enhance the natural functions of floodplains.

What is the CRS Explorer Tool?

The Community Rating System Explorer (CRS Explorer) is a tool that helps planners visualize where current land protections are likely earning their community CRS points and which other areas may be eligible for future Open Space Preservation (OSP) if protected via acquisition or conservation easements. The tool identifies areas within the floodplain that, if protected, improve the community’s CRS score, reduce flood insurance costs, and make their communities more resilient to future flooding. The CRS Explorer is supported by the NOAA Digital Coast Partnership organizations.

In particular, the CRS Explorer aids planners in identifying areas that could qualify for Activity 420 Open Space Preservation (OSP) credits if those areas were in a protected status. These Potential Future OSP areas are places within the impact adjusted special flood hazard area that have natural land uses but are not currently eligible for OSP simply because they are not legally protected from development. With the CRS Explorer, planners, land trusts and conservation organizations can quickly locate future OSP areas and quantify the number of OSP credits that protection would provide. This information can be used to support community planning decisions around green space, wildlife preserves and community parks. The tool can also be used to support the development of a Floodplain Protection Plan.