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Virginia CZM Program: 2018 Coastal Grant Project Description and Final Summary

Project Task:VA Coastal Zone Management Program logo



Wetlands Watch

Project Title:

Advancing the Community Rating System (CRS) Program in Virginia's Coastal Zone

Project Description:

Wetlands Watch plans to accomplish two tasks to increase awareness of the Community Rating System under the National Flood Insurance Program across Virginia’s Coastal Zone and highlight the benefits outside the flood insurance discounts earned through participation. Both projects should help increase the number of communities in the CRS through marketing documents locality staff can present to decision-making bodies as support of joining the CRS.

The first project, Local Government CRS Program Evaluation Trainings, will help increase awareness of the CRS and offer an opportunity for community staff to get a head start on the application to join the Program. Wetlands Watch will conduct 12 local government trainings, working through Virginia’s Coastal Zone’s regional planning commissions. The trainings will provide communities with straightforward information that translates FEMA-ese into language locality staff can relate to programs and policies underway at the community. This training will bring department representatives into one room to learn about programs at other departments and witness the comprehensive approach of the CRS. The bulk of the training will include reviewing locality activities for potential credits. An excel sheet outlining responses from staff, will be available to the community to serve as guidance in its actual CRS application and a training summary will outline how the locality may score if they join the CRS, receiving credit for activities reported during the training. This one-page PDF will help market the CRS to community boards/commissions as they decide whether to join the CRS and communicate, in writing to the locality decision makers, the expectation that all departments are responsible for contributing to the CRS effort.

The second project, Case Studies on the Local Government Benefits of the CRS Program, will increase awareness that the CRS Program offers additional benefits other than flood insurance premium reductions. One of the most reported barriers to joining the CRS Program, as identified in Wetlands Watch’s Cost Benefit Analysis Report, is not everyone in the community receives the flood insurance discount, therefore why should locality staff spend time on a Program that only benefits some taxpayers, but not all. These case studies will aim to offer local decision makers, or even the public, with information about how participation in the CRS Program can benefit their whole community. These 4 case studies will draw from information obtained through interviews conducted under a prior Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program grant, but include follow-up interviews to acquire metrics to strengthen each case study. Focusing on the additional benefits of the CRS aligns with a benefit stacking trend gaining ground in many communities, as local governments struggle to meet unfunded federal mandates and tightening regulatory standards with their limited budgets and overburdened staff. Demonstrating the opportunities to stack benefits of the CRS Program will increase the likelihood that hesitant communities may consider joining the Program. Potential co-benefits to consider include:  helping to meet Chesapeake Bay and stormwater water quality/quantity commitments, increasing public access and recreational opportunities, and reducing the cost of providing emergency response services during flooding events.

Wetlands Watch continues to lead the movement to champion the CRS as a policy/planning tool to help Virginia’s coastal localities adapt to increased flooding and sea level rise. Our previous CRS Cost Benefit analysis work funded by the Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program received national recognition, further strengthening the impact of our work. Mary-Carson Stiff, Director of Policy, Chairs the Coastal Virginia CRS Workgroup, serving as a convener, curriculum developer, and technical advisor for member localities.

Federal Funding:


Project Contact:

Mary-Carson Stiff, 757.376.1364,

Project Status:

10/1/18 - 9/30/19; Project Open

Final Product:


Project Summary:


Disclaimer: This project summary provides the federal dollars initially awarded to the grantee. Due to underexpenditure or reprogramming of grant funds, this figure may change. For more information on the allocation of coastal grant funds, please contact Laura McKay, Virginia Coastal Program Manager, at 804.698.4323 or email:

A more detailed Scope of Work for this project is available. Please direct your request for a copy to or

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Virginia Department of
Environmental Quality
P.O. Box 1105
Richmond, VA 23218
(804) 698-4000

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