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Land & Biodiversity

Wetlands, Wildlife Habitat, and Flood Hazards

In the coming decades, climate change threatens to increase the risk of significant flooding in the Mississippi River Basin. Over the next 90 years, the nation's flood- prone areas are likely to increase by 40-45 percent, according to an upcoming Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) study on climate change impacts. By increasing flood storage in a watershed, the restoration of wetlands and natural floodplains can help communities adapt to climate change and reduce its adverse impacts, while also providing wildlife habitat and water quality benefits.

In 2009, ELI and the University of North Carolina Institute for the Environment completed a study in the Rock River Basin in Wisconsin to identify opportunities for habitat and wetland conservation and restoration in areas prone to flood hazards. We found extensive overlap between wetland and wildlife habitats and the flood-prone areas, but also that there is a general lack of coordination among local hazard mitigation planners and wildlife and wetland agencies. These findings indicated a real need for interagency collaboration in these areas and provided the necessary background for a series of workshops.


Survey in the Cedar River Watershed, Iowa

A survey designed to improve understanding of the main challenges facing the Cedar River Watershed and help identify and prioritize projects to address these challenges.

Recent floods have caused billions of dollars in damages in the Cedar River watershed. While these floods spurred local collaborative efforts (e.g., the Cedar River Watershed Coalition) to address flood recovery and mitigation in the watershed, as memories of the flood fade it will become harder to achieve real and effective results. The challenge now is to determine how to translate these watershed-wide efforts into successful projects that provide flood protection and conservation benefits for your community.

The Environmental Law Institute and the University of North Carolina, in collaboration with a Cedar River Watershed Working Group, are inviting residents of the watershed to help us understand the main challenges facing the Cedar River Watershed and identify and prioritize projects to address these challenges.  Responses to the survey will help us determine how to motivate people and organizations in the watershed to become more involved and invested in efforts to improve the overall health of the watershed. 

 

Wetlands, Wildlife Habitat, and Flood Hazards in the Rock River Basin - 2013 Summer Webinars

Wisconsin professionals promote collaboration to restore wetlands and floodplains and mitigate flood hazards in the Rock River Basin and beyond

The goal of the Wetlands, Wildlife Habitat, and Flood Hazards in the Rock River Basin webinar series is to identify opportunities for emergency, floodplain, and wetland management agencies to work together to maximize the flood control and ecosystem service benefits of wetlands. This year's series will include webinars on Adaptive Management and the Rock River Basin TMDL, Different Routes to Wetland Restoration, the FEMA Hazard Mitigation Buyout Program, and Wetlands and Watershed Planning.

Click Here for More Information or to Watch Archived Webinars

 

Workshop in the Cedar River Basin, Iowa

Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Center for Energy and Environmental Education
University of Northern Iowa
Cedar Falls, Iowa

The Cedar River Watershed Coalition, Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, ELI, and the University of North Carolina Institute for the Environment will host the Wetlands, Wildlife Habitat, and Flood Hazards in the Cedar River Basin Workshop on May 16, 2012. The goal of the workshop is to identify ways to more efficiently and effectively protect wetland and wildlife habitat and strengthen resilience to flooding in the Cedar River Basin. We will explore how hazard and emergency managers, wetland and wildlife conservation managers, floodplain mangers, community planners, and conservation organizations can work more effectively together to meet multiple, and overlapping goals and identify the information needed and funding sources available for joint projects.

Workshop Report

The Wetlands, Wildlife Habitat, and Flood Hazards in the Cedar River Basin, Iowa workshop report includes a summary of the workshop, a set of maps illustrating areas where wetlands and floodplains overlap with priority habitats, and case studies of successful interagency collaboration on projects that preserve or restore wetlands and habitats while reducing flood risk for local communities.

Workshop Documents

 

Webinar Series

Promoting Collaboration to Restore Wetlands and Floodplains and Mitigate Flood Hazards in the Rock River Basin: A 4-Part Webinar Series for Busy Professionals

This series of lunchtime webinars will offer participants the opportunity to explore and pursue new ways to improve the effectiveness of their plans, policies, and projects to simultaneously achieve wetland/habitat conservation and flood hazard mitigation goals; opportunities for establishing new collaborations with other disciplines and agencies; and new sources of state and federal funding that could be leveraged for wetland and wildlife habitat conservation and flood hazard mitigation. The webinar series builds on the findings of the Wetlands, Wildlife Habitat, and Flood Hazard in the Rock River Basin Workshop held in 2011 by the Environmental Law Institute, University of North Carolina Institute for the Environment, and the Wisconsin Wetlands Association (see below). Contact Rebecca Kihslinger at kihslinger@eli.org to register for a webinar.

This Webinar Series was organized by the Environmental Law Institute in collaboration with the Wisconsin Wetlands Association and the Rock River Coalition with generous funding from the McKnight Foundation.

 

Workshop in the Rock River Basin, Wisconsin

In May 2011, ELI and the University of North Carolina Institute for the Environment (UNC-IE), together with the Wisconsin Wetlands Association (WWA), held a workshop, funded by the McKnight Foundation, that brought together wetland and wildlife managers with emergency managers, hazard mitigation planners, and others from the Rock River Basin, Wisconsin a frequently flooded basin in Southeastern Wisconsin. The purpose of the workshop was to bring these agencies and organizations together to identify where their interests, missions, and projects overlap and to explore how they might work more closely together to more effectively achieve their objectives.

 

Protecting Wetlands and Wildlife Habitat While Reducing Flood Losses: A Guidebook on Interagency Collaboration in the Mississippi River Basin

The purpose of this Guidebook is to illustrate the opportunities for wetland managers, hazard mitigation planners and other conservation and hazard mitigation professionals to work together to protect wetlands, water quality, and wildlife habitat and strengthen resilience to flooding in the Rock River Basin as well as the entire Upper Mississippi River Basin. The Guidebook provides a summary of the 2011 workshop, highlights key findings and illustrates how to create maps that show where flood hazard areas and wetland and wildlife habitat areas overlap. It also identifies opportunities for facilitating interagency collaboration and includes brief case studies of successful interagency collaboration.

 

Combining Habitat Conservation and Natural Hazards

Priority wetland habitat sites often overlap with hazard-prone floodplains. A recent study highlighted a disconnect between disaster mitigation planning frameworks and wetland conservation goals, and suggested ways to capitalize on the potential of these intersecting interests.

The connection between environmental protection and hazards is real, but not always clear. Emergency managers and wildlife conservationists typically operate in separate universes, yet there are reasons why they should collaborate. A recent study conducted by the University of North Carolina and the Environmental Law Institute identified opportunities for wildlife conservation in areas where people and property are at risk from natural hazards. The study