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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. 

Related Organizations: Harris County, Texas, Houston Parks Board

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Equitable Recovery, Equitable Resilience

August 2020

This white paper from Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) describes the roles that community organizations play in responding to natural disasters, as well as the accomplishments and challenges relating to this work. With natural disasters related to climate change occuring at increasingly frequent rates, community organizations provide critical emergency aid and recovery services. Furthermore, these services can help reduce the recovery gap within communities, as underlying economic, social, and housing factors and public policy decisions create disparities which are exacerbated through natural disasters. Drawing on interviews with various organizations in California, Florida, Puerto Rico, and Texas, this paper reviews the different strategies that these groups use and puts forth some recommendations for policy changes that may be necessary to advance equity in recovery and resilience. 

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Delivering Urban Resilience: Costs and benefits of city-wide adoption of smart surfaces

2018

This report quantifies the benefits and costs of smart surface technologies and finds that the risks from extreme heat and weather can be offset by these technologies. It draws on  Washington D. C. , Philadelphia, and El Paso as case studies and considers five smart surface technologies: cool roofs, green roofs, solar PV, reflective pavements, and urban trees. The authors find that adopting these technologies can generate millions (or even billions) of dollars in net financial benefits at the city level and can generate half a trillion dollars in net financial benefits nationwide.

Authors or Affiliated Users: Greg Kats, Keith Glassbrook

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Climate Adaptation: The State of Practice in U.S. Communities

November 16, 2016

Looking at 17 communities engaged in adaptation, this report examines what communities are doing to address climate risks. It finds that communities are often motivated by extreme climate event and are more focused on reducing their current vulnerabilities to extreme events, compared to addressing future climate impacts. Despite this, there is encouraging evidence that communities can begin addressing climate change risks and overcome barriers to action and implementation.   The 17 case studies provide insights into the key components of a well-adapted community.

Related Organizations: Abt Associates, The Kresge Foundation

Authors or Affiliated Users: Jason M. Vogel, Karen Carney, Charles Herrick, Missy Stults, Megan O'Grady, Alexis St. Juliana, Heather Hosterman, Lorine Giangola, Joel B. Smith

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Managing the Retreat from Rising Seas — City of Austin, Texas: Flood Risk Reduction Buyout Projects

July 15, 2020

The City of Austin, Texas has adopted a model to provide consistent relocation benefits for voluntary home buyouts in the city’s floodplains as a part of its “flood risk reduction projects.” In addition to the cost of a person’s original home, the city will provide homeowners with moving and closing costs, and a replacement housing payment if the cost of a new comparable home (located outside of the city’s 100-year floodplain) is more than the original home. This policy encourages owner participation in the buyout program and helps to minimize the economic and social costs of relocation. The city’s Watershed Protection Department prioritizes buyouts in accordance with a Watershed Protection Master Plan that strategically guides related city actions, including potential buyouts, to reduce the risks associated with erosion, flooding, and poor water quality. A mix of municipal bonds, federal grants, and local funds (primarily through a drainage fee paid by owners of properties based upon impervious surface cover) have been used to fund the buyouts. Austin’s example is noteworthy for its emphasis on implementing buyouts in accordance with a comprehensive flood mitigation program and facilitating transitions for people located in floodplains through relocation assistance. Other jurisdictions considering managed retreat could implement an interdisciplinary buyout approach across different sectors and government agencies (e.g., floodplain and emergency management and housing and community development). .

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Managing the Retreat from Rising Seas — Harris County, Texas: Flood Control District Local Buyout Program

July 15, 2020

Harris County, Texas established a voluntary home buyout program through the regional government agency, the Harris County Flood Control District (HCFCD), that can serve as an example for other local jurisdictions considering retreat from coastal and riverine flood-prone areas. The buyout program is focused on risk reduction and flood mitigation best practices, where once bought out, properties are returned to open space uses to restore their natural beneficial flood retention functions. HCFCD has developed an effective communication and outreach strategy to educate the public and encourage program participation. Historically, properties have been acquired with grants from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Hazard Mitigation Assistance program, Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Block Grant program, and local funding from a dedicated ad valorem property tax (i.e., a tax based on a property’s assessed value). Other state, regional, and local jurisdictions considering managed retreat could implement a similar comprehensive buyout model that operates in both a pre- and post-disaster context to reduce flood risks and engages the community throughout the entire process. This case study is one of 17 case studies featured in a report written by the Georgetown Climate Center, Managing the Retreat from Rising Seas: Lessons and Tools from 17 Case Studies.

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FHWA Resilience Pilots

FHWA supported the work of state Departments of Transportation (DOTs) and Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) to develop and pilot approaches for assessing the vulnerability of transportation systems to climate change and develop strategies for building resilience in the transportation sector. Nineteen pilot projects were selected and the pilot jurisdictions worked with FHWA's Climate Change and Extreme Weather Vulnerability Assessment Framework. This FHWA website includes the individual pilot studies for the pilot projects funded in 2013-2015 and webinars of the pilot teams discussing their work and their findings.

Related Organizations: Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), Plan Hillsborough (Florida), Arizona Department of Transportation, California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), Connecticut Department of Transportation (CTDOT), Maine Department of Transportation, Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT), California Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), Michigan Department of Transportation, Minnesota Department of Transportation

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Gulf South Rising 2015 - Final Report

September 5, 2015

Gulf South Rising (GSR) was a regional movement of coordinated actions and events in 2015, to highlight the impact of the global climate crisis on the U. S. Southern Gulf Coast region.  This report describes the movement and introduces many of the participants. GSR was a locally­-led grassroots effort that coordinated common narratives and goals from across the region, including frontline communities in Louisiana, Alabama, Texas, and Mississippi, through convenings, activism, and demonstration events.

Related Organizations: Gulf South Rising

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The Texas Title Project

2013

The Texas Title Project was a two-year program that began in 2013 after Hurricanes Dolly and Ike devastated Texas, and critically impacted lower-income communities. The purpose of the program was to help low-income families whose homes were destroyed during the hurricanes to acquire clear title to their property so that they could be eligible for government funding. In clearing any issues relating to these titles, homeowners then became eligible for federal government rebuilding assistance. The project's threefold mission was to: clear titles for those homeowners and families that participated in the program; develop a general model for providing these types of legal services that could be implemented in the future, when another disaster occurred; and to study the barriers that existed that prevented low-income homeowners from having a clear title, especially in areas that are disproportionately affected by disasters. In the two years it was operational, the Texas Title Project provided services for more than 350 families seeking disaster recovery assistance in East Texas and the Lower Rio Grande Valley.

Related Organizations: University of Texas, Austin, Texas General Land Office

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Austin, Texas: Preparing for Water Scarcity and Drought

August 19, 2015

Developed by the Georgetown Climate Center, this case study discusses how the City of Austin, Texas agencies are preparing for climate change impacts to water supply and increasing drought. It examines how city agencies are developing a climate adaptation plan, assessing climate change risks across sectors, establishing of a Water Resource Planning Task Force, and developing recommendations to address long-term reductions in the city’s water supply in response to recent city council resolutions.

Related Organizations: Georgetown Climate Center

Author or Affiliated User: Aaron Ray

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