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Environmental Law Institute Offers Resources for Communities Dealing With Floods

April 2018

(Washington, D.C.):  Many communities across the United States witnessed record flooding last year following the tumultuous 2017 hurricane season. In February, flooding occurred across much of the Midwest. And in March, the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration released a report warning that the kind of flooding coastal cities now experience only during storms will happen during normal high tides.  Given this new normal, many communities are looking for ways to mitigate future flooding – including through voluntary buyouts of flood-damaged properties under FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program.

Once properties are purchased, existing structures must be removed and the land must be dedicated to open space, recreational, or wetland management uses, offering opportunities to restore and permanently protect natural habitats and help conserve biodiversity, while also providing community amenities and improving resilience.

Local governments usually oversee these buyouts with little or no funding for restoration or management of acquired land, much less guidance on maximizing long-term benefits for the community. The Environmental Law Institute has a number of practical, implementable resources to help communities optimize use and management of buyout properties to improve community resilience.

 “The acquisition and restoration of these floodplain properties can increase community resilience while improving wildlife habitat, enhancing ecosystem services, and providing much-needed open space and recreational facilities to a community,” says Dr. Rebecca Kihslinger, Senior Science & Policy Analyst with ELI. “Buyouts present an opportunity for communities to create public assets while restoring the ecological integrity of the floodplain and strengthening the community’s resilience to future disasters.”

Our newest resources include:

Some of the other materials available on the ELI website include:

ELI continues to work in this area. Visit https://www.eli.org/land-biodiversity/floodplain-buyouts to learn more and for updates.

Dr. Rebecca Kihslinger is also available for interview.