A floodplain has been defined as any land susceptible to being inundated by flood waters. Floodplains can also be regarded as the land needed by a river or stream to convey and store flood waters.
Patagonia has successfully qualified to join the Community Rating System (CRS) program. The CRS is a voluntary National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) for recognizing community floodplain management activities that exceed the NFIP standards. A major factor in gaining enough “points” to qualify was the recognition of The Nature Conservancy (TNC) properties as open space in the Open Space Preservation (OSP) activity of the CRS program.
With the help of local stakeholders and Santa Cruz County, I plan to get enough credits to permanently qualify Patagonia for CRS recognition. The County GIS office has created an overall map of some possible OSP parcels. These areas are:
1. The Nature Conservancy properties.
2. The Patagonia Schools property, which has been submitted for approval.
3. The Native Seeds Search on their properties within the Town boundary.
4. All of Patagonia’s current properties are to be evaluated to be preserved as Open Space.
5. Entire floodway of Sonoita creek that is within the Town boundaries.
Another aspect of OSP is called Natural Functions Open Apace (NFOS), which provides extra credit for parcels credited for OSP that are preserved in or restored to their natural state. Studies are showing that natural open space can be more effective at controlling or attenuating flooding and is less expensive than traditional manmade flood control structures.
There are two ways we can work towards the restoration of the whole Sonoita Creek floodplain from the County Fairgrounds to the Santa Cruz River:
First, create awareness about developing an OPS corridor right through town. Second, facilitate organizing the many groups that are currently working towards restoration and preservation of the Sonoita Creek watershed. Special efforts will focus on OPS and NFOP. Creative partnerships will accomplish a great deal toward making this preservation project work.