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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.

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.

  • Funding Opportunities for Collaborative Projects – August 20, 2012
    • Resource Brief
    • Presentations
      • Local Government Eligibility for State Wetland Program Development Grants - Sue Elston, EPA
      • Lake Protection Grants - Susan Graham, WDNR
      • River Protection Grants - Greg Searle, WDNR
      • Floodplain Management Grants - Gary Heinrichs, WDNR
  • Hazard Mitigation Planning Process – October 2, 2012
    • Resource Brief
    • Presentations
      • State Hazard Mitigation Planning - Roxanne Gray, Wisconsin Emergency Management
      • Local Hazard Mitigation Planning - David Janda, Dane County Emergency Management
      • Leveraging Hazard Mitigation Plans for Conservation Acquisitions – Jane Anklam, West Wisconsin Land Trust
  • Using Zoning to Solve Problems, Save Wetlands, and Please the Public – October 18, 2012
    • Resource Brief
    • Presentations
      • Wetland Zoning Opportunities and Planning Tools - Erin O’Brien and Kyle Magyera, Wisconsin Wetlands Association
      • Going Above and Beyond Shoreland Wetland Zoning, How and Why – TBA
  • Prioritized Wetland Restoration in the Rock River Basin – November 7, 2012
    • Resource Brief
    • Presentations
      • Refining the Potentially Restorable Wetland Map - Scott Taylor, Rock River Coalition
      • Delavan Lake Watershed Initiative Network – Maggie Zoellner, Delevan Lake Watershed Initiative Network
      • The NAWCA Grant Process and Ongoing Restoration/Protection Work in the Rock River Basin – Michele Kille, The Nature Conservancy

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 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 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 considered places where priority habitats – as identified in state wildlife action plans (SWAPs)-overlap with natural hazard zones and highlighted potential points of collaboration among land use planners, hazard mitigation planners, and wildlife habitat managers.

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). Contract Rebecca Kihslinger at kihslinger@eli.org to register for a webinar.