2019 Program Archive: Floodplain Acquisitions: Maximizing Opportunities for Hazard Mitigation, Habitat Restoration, and Community Benefit

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Floodplain Acquisitions: Maximizing Opportunities for Hazard Mitigation, Habitat Restoration, and Community Benefit

Rebecca Kihslinger
Environmental Law Institute
Time Slot: 
Concurrent Sessions 2
Session Type: 

Disaster costs hit a record high in the U.S. in 2017. According to NOAA, 16 major disasters resulted in over $306 billion dollars in damages and cost 362 lives. One of the most effective disaster mitigation strategies is getting people out of flood-prone areas through voluntary buyouts. Over the past 30 years, FEMA has funded the acquisition of more than 55,000 properties from willing landowners. Buyouts permanently remove people and property from hazardous areas (deed restrictions required for acquired properties prevent future development on the land), thus reducing or eliminating future property damage and emergency response costs. Because acquired land must be permanently dedicated to open space, recreational, or wetland management uses, buyouts also provide an opportunity for communities to create public assets while restoring the ecological integrity of the floodplain. Restoration projects on acquired lands can thus further strengthen the community’s resilience to future disasters. This session will highlight work across the country aimed at helping local governments optimize selection and management of floodplain buyouts to increase resilience and make communities more livable for all residents. The presentations will include a review of recommendations for how local governments can prioritize, fund, and manage acquired properties; case studies of communities that have implemented floodplain buyouts; and a review of the fiscal impacts of buyouts on local governments in North Carolina.

Cross-Cutting Themes: 
Kenosha County Fox River Floodplain Acquisition Program
Andy Buehler, Kenosha County Department of Public Works and Development Services
Making the Most of Floodplain Buyouts
Rebecca Kihslinger, Environmental Law Institute
Are Floodplain Buyouts A Smart Investment for Municipalities?
David Salvesen, University of North Carolina, Institute for the Environment
Floodplain Acquisitions
Karen Hyun, National Audubon Society