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Hazard Mitigation Planning

Recently, increased emphasis has been placed on non-structural and nature-based hazard mitigation solutions, including the restoration of wetlands and floodplains, as cost-effective alternatives for flood hazard mitigation that also help achieve conservation goals like maintaining biodiversity. FEMA hazard mitigation grant programs could provide potential funding that could pay for the restoration and protection of critical natural infrastructure and improve outcomes and reduce costs from the next disaster. For example, FEMA’s new Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) program will make $500 million dollars available to states, U.S territories, Indian tribal governments, and local communities for pre-disaster mitigation activities. The FY2020 program priorities include incentivizing projects that incorporate nature-based solutions.

Funded mitigation activities, including nature-based projects, must be done in accordance with priorities set out in state, tribal, or local hazard mitigation plans. Some state and local governments identify restoration and protection priorities in their plans. Most state plans recognize habitat loss as a hazard, or at least as a consequence of hazards, but fewer discuss habitat conservation and restoration as a hazard mitigation strategy. If they did so, more opportunities would be created for investments in nature-based solutions. And, while many state hazard mitigation plans reference federal funding for restoration projects, fewer plans include state-level funding or state-directed projects for habitat restoration. Local plans are more directly tied to community needs and goals and thus may provide an important opportunity for integrating conservation and restoration goals.

ELI has worked with partners and communities across the country to identify opportunities to expand the use of conservation, restoration, and natural infrastructure as hazard mitigation strategies and to facilitate collaboration among wetland and wildlife managers and emergency managers, hazard mitigation planners to explore how they might work more closely together to more effectively achieve their objectives.

 

Our work:

 


 

Integrating Nature-Based Goals and Actions in Hazard Mitigation Planning

​ELI is reviewing and analyzing state, tribal, and local hazard mitigation plans to identify to what extent they are incorporating conservation and restoration of wetlands and floodplains and green infrastructure as goals or explicit hazard reduction strategies. ​

  • Gulf Coast Hazard Mitigation Plan Review: The goal of this project was to equip advocates for nature-based solutions with information to play an active role in the hazard mitigation planning process by 1) identifying best practices in inclusion of nature-based strategies in local hazard mitigation plans in the Gulf Coast region, and 2) providing a schedule indicating which entities prepare these plans and a timeline for their next update. 

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Wetlands, Wildlife Habitat, and Flood Hazards in the Rock River Basin - 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 Opportunities for Local Governments to Engage in Wetland Conservation, The Rock River TMDL, Where Are We Now?, Landscape-Scale Identification of Actually Restorable Wetlands, and Cost Benefit Analysis and Natural Conservation as a Mitigation Strategy.

Click Here for Register for the 2015 Webinars or to Watch Archived Webinars

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Workshop in the Root River Watershed, Minnesota

A workshop to identify opportunities to protect vital wetland and wildlife habitat and promote resilience to flooding in the Root River Watershed and surrounding region through greater interagency coordination.

The Environmental Law Institute, University of North Carolina, and Minnesota Land Trust, in collaboration with a Root River Watershed Working Group invited hazard and emergency managers, floodplain managers, land use planners, and wetland and wildlife conservation managers to come together to explore how they can work effectively together to meet multiple goals and identify the information needed and funding sources available for joint projects. The workshop increased awareness among hazard and emergency managers, floodplain managers, land use planners, and wetland and wildlife managers about each others’ work, and where their work overlaps. Participants also identified the opportunities for and obstacles to collaboration and explored the information needed and funding sources available for joint projects.

Click here for more information on the workshop, and to view presentations.

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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. 

Click here to see the results of the survey. 

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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