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Minot, North Dakota Floodplain Buyouts and Affordable, Resilient Housing “Buy-In” Program

January 2016

In January 2016, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) awarded the City of Minot, North Dakota $74.3 million through its National Disaster Resilience Competition (NDRC) to implement several projects to improve the city’s resilience to flooding from the Souris River. In June 2011, Minot experienced a catastrophic flood. The flood, in combination with a “boom-bust” oil economy and lack of affordable housing, motivated the city to envision a more resilient future for its residents, economy, and environment. Among its winning projects, the city will implement a voluntary buyout program for homes most vulnerable to flooding along the Souris River and make resilient, affordable housing investments in higher, upland “Resilient Neighborhoods” located outside of the city’s floodplain to relocate homeowners and renters. Minot’s unique “buyouts for buy-in” model will help to preserve the city’s tax base and community cohesion. The city will also undertake projects to restore the floodplain, preserve open space, create recreational greenways, and provide resilient city hubs that offer economic job development and other services. Local policymakers and planners can consider the Minot example to equitably relocate people and development out of vulnerable flood or coastal areas to safer, higher ground as a part of comprehensive managed retreat strategies. 

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Gleason Beach, California (Highway 1) Road Realignment Project

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) is proposing to realign a section of Highway 1 near Gleason Beach in Sonoma County to provide long-term protection from coastal bluff erosion threatening the highway and surrounding area. The highway provides the only access between Bodega Bay and Jenner communities and is the sole vehicular route north to south for coastal Sonoma County. Multiple efforts since the late 1990s have sought to stabilize the roadway in place via various measures to shore up the bluff, but these protective measures cannot offer a reliable long-term solution.

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Florida “Sacrificial” Roads Projects

2007

Recognizing the increasing maintenance and replacement costs for coastal roads in Florida due to more frequent flooding and storm surge, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) – Eastern Federal Lands Highway Division (EFL), assisted the National Park Service and other partners designing specific roads that are prone to be frequently washed out to have minimal environmental impact. Rising sea levels and coastal storms, which are projected to increase in intensity as a result of climate change, are creating more challenges for building and maintaining transportation infrastructure along coastal shorelines.

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Protecting the Public Interest through the National Coastal Zone Management Program: How Coastal States and Territories Use No-Build Areas along Ocean and Great Lake Shorefronts

May 2012

This report provides an overview of policy options for limiting new construction in vulnerable coastal areas, and a summary of existing laws and regulations in states with federally approved coastal management programs (CMPs). To better understand and communicate how state CMPs manage ocean and Great Lake shorefront development, NOAA’s Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management (OCRM) (now a part of the Office for Coastal Management) conducted this study to look specifically at where states are employing shorefront strategies to protect the public interest and natural resources.

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Softening Our Shorelines: Policy and Practice for Living Shorelines Along the Gulf and Atlantic Coasts

March 2020

In collaboration with the Coastal States Organization, the National Wildlife Federation assessed living shorelines policies, permitting and projects of all 18 U. S. Atlantic and Gulf coastal states. The study and resulting policy recommendations promote the use of living shorelines to reduce coastal vulnerabilities and manage the intensifying coastal impacts of climate change - such as sea level rise, coastal storms, and erosion. The report offers best practices, state and federal policy recommendations to support living shorelines implementation, and detailed summaries of permitting processes by state.

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Transfer of Development Rights in U.S. Communities: Evaluating Program Design, Implementation, and Outcomes

September 2007

In September 2007, Resources for the Future and the University of Maryland – Baltimore County partnered to evaluate the design, implementation, and outcomes of Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) programs in communities across the U. S. The report is the result of a comprehensive research study involving conversations with local planners, consultants, land-use attorneys, and land trusts in the case study of several communities. The report offers an overview of land preservation, zoning, and TDRs in the U.

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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.

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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. 

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Louisiana Land Trust Resettlement Projects

In Louisiana, a state-created land trust is supporting floodplain buyouts and helping families relocate out of vulnerable flood-prone areas. The Louisiana Land Trust (LLT) was created in 2005 to support buyouts after hurricanes Katrina and Rita. After more recent flood events, LLT expanded its role to help communities relocate to safer, higher ground areas. The land trust is helping to facilitate the resettlement of residents of the Pecan Acres subdivision in Pointe Coupee Parish and the Isle de Jean Charles community in Terrebonne Parish. The Pecan Acres subdivision is located in a lower-income neighborhood north of the City of New Roads, and has experienced repeated flooding 17 times over the past 20 years. LLT is working to help resettle approximately 40 households within the subdivision by acquiring their flood-prone properties, and supporting a development on higher ground where they can relocate. Isle de Jean Charles is a narrow island in South Terrebonne parish and is the home of the Band of Biloxi-Chitimacha Confederation of Muskogees and United Houma Nation tribes. The island has lost 98% of its land mass since 1955 and many residents have left as a result of increasing flooding, where encroaching seas often flood the only roadway connecting the island to the mainland. With funding from the National Disaster Resilience Competition, the state is working to support implementation of a tribal resettlement plan. LLT acquired the resettlement site, about 40 miles north of the island that will be redeveloped. Eligible and participating families and individuals will be offered properties on the site with a five-year forgivable mortgage. Both the Pecan Acres and Isle de Jean Charles resettlement developments will incorporate resilient and green design features (including elevation about FEMA minimum standards, LEED certified construction, green infrastructure, and community amenities like parks) and will enable the residents to relocate together, maintaining social bonds and cohesion. This example demonstrates how land trusts can support efforts to relocate whole communities, and support development of sustainable and resilient receiving communities.

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Managing the Retreat from Rising Seas — State of Louisiana: Louisiana Strategic Adaptations for Future Environments (LA SAFE)

July 15, 2020

Louisiana Strategic Adaptations for Future Environments (LA SAFE) is a community-based planning and capital investment process that will help the state fund and implement several projects, including for managed retreat, to make its coasts more resilient. In 2016, Louisiana’s Office for Community Development–Disaster Recovery Unit received a nearly $40 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development through the National Disaster Resilience Competition and additional state and nongovernmental funds to implement LA SAFE. The grant will support the design and implementation of resilience projects to address impacts in six coastal parishes that were affected by Hurricane Isaac in 2012. The state partnered with the nonprofit Foundation for Louisiana to administer LA SAFE and facilitate an extensive, year-long community engagement process that will result in implementation of ten funded projects across the six parishes. By contemplating a regional, rather than a parish-specific, approach to addressing coastal risk, LA SAFE provides a model that other states and local governments may consider when making long-term adaptation and resilience investments, including for managed retreat. 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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