Procedural Manual 77-2: Floodplain Management
VII. Statement of Findings
A Statement of Findings (SOF) must be prepared if a proposed action is found to be within a regulatory floodplain. Generally, the SOF will be included in the appropriate environmental compliance documents prepared for the proposed action as required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and NPS-12, “Conservation Planning, Environmental Impact Analysis, and Decision Making.”
If an Environmental Assessment (EA) is prepared and it is determined on the basis of the EA that there will be no significant impacts, then a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) will be prepared for and signed by the Regional Director. In such cases, the SOF may be combined as a separately identifiable document with the EA and signed concurrently with the FONSI.
If an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) will be prepared, then a Notice of Intent will be published in the Federal Register. The SOF may be combined as a separately identifiable document with the EIS and signed concurrently with the Record of Decision for the EIS. In cases where the Record of Decision for the EIS is signed by someone other than the Regional Director, the floodplain SOF must first be signed by the Regional Director.
The public review period for the SOF will coincide with that of the NEPA document. Upon approval, the SOF will be sent to the appropriate agencies and appropriate state review offices as determined by NPS-12.
Actions categorically excluded from NEPA compliance as provided for in 516 DM and NPS-12 must be evaluated according to the procedures in this manual to ensure compliance with the Floodplain Management Executive Order.
Campgrounds and associated sanitary facilities are subject to the requirements of Director’s Order 77-2 and this manual. In the case of campgrounds in non-high hazard floodplains, the requirement of first attempting to locate an action outside of the regulatory floodplain may be relaxed to permit the use of aesthetically desirable locations near water. This is because the risk to humans from flooding is very low where flooding is predictable and happens over a period of hours or days. Therefore, when an evaluation of alternative sites has indicated that there is no aesthetically comparable, flood-safe location, campgrounds can be located in non-high-hazard regulatory floodplains without further justification. Campgrounds may be located in high hazard areas only when it has been determined that there is no practicable, flood-safe, alternative location available.
All campgrounds located in regulatory floodplains must be documented in a Statement of Findings, which clearly explains the rationale for site selection, how impacts to floodplain natural resources are or will be minimized, and how flood hazard mitigation will be achieved. In general, campground infrastructure should be designed to the 100-year standard. Protection to humans must be to the highest level possible. The preferred means of mitigating hazard to humans is by the use of non-structural methods including seasonal closure and warning/evacuation. Warning and evacuation is difficult in high hazard environments and must be realistically assessed before being adopted as the chosen mitigation method. While generally discouraged, structural protection utilizing floodwalls, levees, etc. may be considered when there is a compelling reason for placing/retaining a campground in a high hazard location and when environmental evaluation indicates that this is an acceptable approach.
B. ContentThe SOF will provide precise reasoning as to why the proposed site was selected and why less flood-prone alternative sites were rejected. The SOF will include an accurate and complete description of the flood hazard assumed by implementation of the proposed action without mitigation in accordance with Section VI-F of this Procedural manual. In the case where alternative sites are also flood-prone, an analysis of the comparative flood risk between alternative sites will be provided. The SOF will describe the environmental impacts associated with the proposed action or reference the NEPA document providing this information. The SOF will include a thorough description of mitigation measures chosen to achieve compliance with DO #77-2, the Executive Order, and this procedural manual, and will provide sufficient information to evaluate the effectiveness of the proposed mitigation in managing identified flood hazards. If flood warning and evacuation are planned, both warning and evacuation times should be determined. In the event that risk to property or human life cannot be eliminated in high hazard areas, even by complying with this procedural manual, a clear statement of this situation is required in the SOF.
An outline illustrating the content and organization of an SOF is provided in Section VII. D.
C. Approval ProcessAn approved Floodplain Statement of Findings must include a cover sheet signed by the Park Superintendent, recommending the activity. The Superintendent’s recommendation endorses the proposed/existing action and the mitigation techniques described in the SOF.The cover sheet will also include concurrence by the Chief of the Water Resources Division (or other qualified, professional, NPS hydrologist). The Chief, Water Resources Division, (or other NPS hydrologist) assures technical adequacy of floodplain analyses, Servicewide consistency in implementation of Director’s Order 77-2, and consistency with NPS protocols and standards as presented in this procedural manual.
The SOF will also include an approval line on the cover sheet signed by the Regional Director. The Regional Director is responsible for approval of the SOF, indicating agreement with the proposed/existing action described in the SOF and sufficient consideration of compliance requirements and safety-related factors. At the discretion of the Regional Director, an NPS Compliance and/or Safety Officer(s) may surname the SOF prior to approval (signature) by the Regional Director. In the case where an SOF is prepared in association with an EIS Record of Decision (ROD) and someone other than the Regional Director signs the ROD, the SOF is first signed by the Regional Director and then by the ROD official.
D. Outline for a Floodplain Statement of Findings
Each Statement of Findings will include the following:
- Cover Sheet with “Recommended” line to be signed by Superintendent; “Certification of Technical Adequacy and Servicewide Consistency” line to be signed by Chief, Water Resources Division or other qualified, professional, NPS Hydrologist; and “Approved” line to be signed by the Regional Director.
A. Brief description of the proposed action
B. Brief site description
C. General characterization of floodplain values and of the nature
of flooding and associated floodplain processes in the area
- Justification for Use of the Floodplain
A. Description of why the proposed action must be located in the
B. Investigation of alternative sites
- Description of Site-Specific Flood Risk
A. Recurrence interval of flooding at the site
B. Hydraulics of flooding at the site (depths, velocities)
C. Time required for flooding to occur (amount of warning time
D. Opportunity for evacuation of site in the event of flooding
E. Geomorphic considerations (erosion, sediment deposition, channel adjustments)
- Description and explanation of flood mitigation plans, including:
A. Measures to reduce hazards to human life and property to the regulatory floodplain level, while minimizing the impact to the natural resources of the floodplain, including the use of non-structural measures as much as practicable; and,
B. Acknowledgement that structures and facilities are designed to be consistent with the intent of the standards and criteria of the National Flood Insurance Program (44 CFR Part 60).