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Land Acquisition and Restoration Projects in the Greens Bayou Watershed in Harris County, Texas: Greens WetBank and Bayou Greenways 2020

In Texas, Harris County Flood Control District (HCFCD) and other local partners, including the nonprofit Houston Parks Board, are implementing different land acquisition, restoration, and conservation projects in the Greens Bayou watershed in Harris County and the City of Houston. Two programs and initiatives include the Greens Bayou Mitigation Bank (Greens WetBank) and Bayou Greenways 2020. The Greens WetBank is a wetland mitigation bank on nearly 1,000 acres of land in Harris County, where HCFCD restores wetlands and generates revenue by selling “wetland credits” to developers who need to offset wetland losses at locations outside the Greens WetBank’s land in Harris County. In addition, Bayou Greenways 2020 is a large-scale, public-private initiative led by Houston Parks Board to create 150 miles of greenways and trails and an additional 3,000 acres of public greenspace along Houston’s major bayous through land acquisition and conservation efforts. Bayou Greenways 2020 has been the result of an extensive community engagement campaign and funding leveraged from federal, state, local, and private sources to create local parks and open spaces in Houston. Greens WetBank and Bayou Greenways 2020 are examples of how comprehensive land acquisition, restoration, and conservation actions can increase local resilience in a specific watershed by mitigating future flood risks, enhancing the environment, and creating community assets. Other jurisdictions could consider a similar model to coordinate future land uses in a watershed with climate adaptation, including managed retreat strategies, hazard reduction, and natural resource and open space management. 

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The Nature Conservancy Resilient Coastal Sites for Conservation in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic

2017

In 2017, The Nature Conservancy (TNC) released a report and interactive web map that identify priority sites in the northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions that have the ability to maximize both biodiversity and natural services in response to increasing threats of sea level rise. TNC, in partnership with a variety of stakeholders and scientists from other nonprofit organizations, universities, and state and federal agencies, conducted a two-year study to evaluate more than 10,000 individual sites throughout the region.

Resource Category: Data and tools

 

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Massachusetts Audubon Mapping and Prioritizing Parcels for Resilience Tool

2018

Massachusetts Audubon Society (Mass Audubon), the largest non-profit in the state protecting over 38,000 acres of land and habitats, partnered with The Nature Conservancy and LandVest in 2016 to create the Mapping and Prioritizing Parcels for Resilience (MAPPR) Tool. MAPPR includes mapping layers that can help policymakers and conservationists select specific geographic areas (e. g. , town, county, watershed) within the state and identify parcels of land that, if protected, would maximize environmental and community benefits.

Resource Category: Data and tools

 

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New Orleans, Louisiana Project Home Again Land Swaps

2013

The New Orleans Project Home Again (PHA) in Louisiana involved a land swap and redevelopment program implemented post-Hurricane Katrina that can serve as an example for how public-private partnerships can help people retreat away from flood-prone coastal areas. Through this project, PHA aimed to concentrate redevelopment at higher elevations away from low-elevation floodplains and expand relocation options for impacted homeowners. The hurricane-damaged homes on participants’ original properties were demolished and converted to climate resilient open space for flood retention, environmental, and community benefits. Specifically, PHA used a land swap program that enabled low- and middle-income homeowners to relocate to less vulnerable areas with new affordable, clustered housing. The PHA program demonstrates how land swaps can offer a tool for planners and policymakers to effectively guide redevelopment in disaster recovery settings and expand affordable and resilient housing opportunities. A similar land swap model could also be considered in a pre-disaster context and phased over time, if community consensus, vacant or developable land, and funding for housing construction exists. 

Resource Category: Solutions

 

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Exploring Transfer of Development Rights as a Possible Climate Adaptation Strategy - Urban Land Institute Resilience Panel Focus Group with Miami-Dade County

November 2017

In November 2017, the Urban Land Institute’s Southeast Florida/Caribbean District Council (ULI) published a report in partnership with Miami-Dade County's Office of Resilience exploring the possibility of creating a Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) program in the County of Miami-Dade, Florida as a possible climate adaptation strategy. The report was the result of the work of a ULI Resilience Panel Focus Group - established by ULI and the Office of Resilience - to assess the feasibility of a TDR program and whether one could facilitate the voluntary retreat of people and vulnerable development away from flood-prone areas at the county or municipal level.

Resource Category: Solutions

 

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USDA NRCS Conservation Easement and Restoration Funding Programs

The U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) offers financial incentives and technical support through multiple programs to public and private landowners aiming to conserve wetlands, agricultural lands, grasslands, and forests through long-term easements. NRCS provides funding opportunities to acquire land for conservation in both a post-disaster and pre-disaster context. All NRCS programs are voluntary and allow working lands owners to be compensated for conserving their lands. These programs and easements can increase local resilience to climate change by improving water quality, reducing soil erosion, and enhancing wildlife habitat. Most USDA conservation funding is allocated through the Commodity Credit Corporation and authorized in Farm Bills (about $5.3 billion in Fiscal Year 2018), while other conservation programs - offering mostly technical assistance - are funded by discretionary spending and annual appropriations (about $1 billion annually). 

Resource Category: Funding

 

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USDA NRCS Emergency Watershed Protection Program

The U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) offers an Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) Program to provide both technical and financial assistance to help local communities and individual landowners recover from disaster events that impair a watershed. The EWP Program provides two assistance program options for Recovery and Floodplain Easements. All EWP Program funding is provided to NRCS through Congressional appropriations. EWP Program funding offers the benefit of providing potentially faster and greater geographic coverage support for disaster-impacted communities because while a disaster event is required for eligibility, a presidential disaster declaration is not.

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U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Disaster Loan Program

The U. S. Small Business Administration (SBA) was established as an independent agency in 1952 with a mission to help Americans start, build, and grow businesses. SBA offers a range of financing and other assistance in a post-disaster context. The SBA Disaster Loan Program supports businesses, private nonprofit organizations, homeowners, and renters located in declared disaster areas by providing affordable, timely, and accessible low-interest, long-term loans for losses not fully covered by insurance or other means.

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New York State Resilient NY Flood Mitigation Studies, Buyouts, and Floodplain Restoration Projects

2018

Multiple serious flood events, hurricanes, and storms have prompted New York State’s (NYS) Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to develop a range of mitigation and adaptation initiatives to address future flood hazards and improve community resilience. The state is completing a series of Flood and Ice Jam Mitigation Studies within 48 high-priority watersheds across New York State - as a part of an initiative called Resilient NY - to identify the causes of flooding and ice jams and to evaluate priority mitigation projects, like buyouts, to reduce risks. New York’s example is noteworthy for selecting buyouts as part of a comprehensive flood-risk mitigation analysis as a result of Flood and Ice Jam Mitigation Studies, compared to other buyout programs that utilize standalone eligibility criteria based on existing floodplain maps (e.g., a property is eligible for buyouts based on flood zones). Where buyouts are identified as a priority option to mitigate future flood risk, DEC can work with local governments through a unique partnership to remove structures from vulnerable areas and restore floodplains. Specifically, the state can oversee and provide support for locally led and administered buyout programs that can be applied across the state’s watersheds. This data-driven, state-local approach to buyouts can serve as a model for other jurisdictions considering buyouts and floodplain restoration as managed retreat strategies at the community level that would benefit from statewide consistency, assistance, and resources.

Resource Category: Solutions

 

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Quileute Tribe of La Push Relocation, Washington State

The federally recognized Quileute Tribe of La Push in northwest Washington is implementing a phased approach to managed retreat in response to climate change impacts of sea-level rise, increased flooding, and storm surge from tsunamis. Specifically, the Tribe is seeking to relocate its school, senior center, government buildings, and future housing above the Tribe’s one-square-mile reservation on the Pacific coast, currently at sea level. The Quileute Tribe’s community engagement processes and planning strategies may provide transferable lessons for other state and local jurisdictions considering similar questions of coastal retreat. 

Resource Category: Solutions

 

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