Montana Map Modernization and Risk MAP

Providing high-quality flood maps and information to minimize threats to life and property.

2005 - 2016
Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (Subcontractor to Atkins)

In an effort to minimize threats to life and property, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) began the Risk Mapping, Assessment, and Planning (Risk MAP) Program. Risk MAP provides high-quality flood maps and information, tools to assess flood risk, and planning and outreach support to communities to reduce flood risk.

RESPEC staff have been an integral part of the Map Modernization and Risk MAP team for the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation’s (DNRC) Cooperating Technical Partner Program. More than 60 percent of the state’s population has been mapped through projects in which RESPEC staff members were involved. The RESPEC project team has completed eight countywide digital conversion projects for Flathead, Yellowstone, Cascade, Lake, Sanders, Lewis and Clark, Fergus, and Broadwater Counties. RESPEC staff has also served in a key role in transitioning from map modernization to the Risk MAP Program, and RESPEC is currently managing and producing products for Missoula, Flathead, and Granite Counties in Montana. The key tasks performed in countywide projects include developing hydrologic and hydraulic analyses for new flood studies and performing flood hazard mapping according to FEMA standards and guidelines. Additionally, the transition to the Risk MAP Program has provided opportunities for RESPEC to produce nonregulatory products, such as Changes Since Last FIRM (CSLF) maps, depth grids, and probability risk grids. These products are an important alternative visual tool to supplement the regulatory Digital Flood Insurance Risk Maps (DFIRMs) to help educate the public about flood risk.

In addition to new studies and DFIRM production, significant community outreach and education are major components in these projects. Once the maps reach the preliminary phase, meetings are scheduled with community leaders (i.e., commissioners, mayors, floodplain administrators, and emergency managers) and project managers and staff from RESPEC, the DNRC, and FEMA. At the meetings, the flood risk project timeline is summarized and the new information is presented and explained to the community.