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Naturally Resilient Communities project gets White House nod

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Flood protection on counties' minds in Naturally Resilient Communities

At the White House Water Summit in March, the Obama Administration counted a NACo partnership project, Naturally Resilient Communities (NRC), as among the national efforts to build a more sustainable water future.

A joint effort of NACo, The Nature Conservancy, the American Planning Association, the Association of State Floodplain Managers and Sasaki Associates, NRC aims to help communities rethink flood protection.

“Many of our communities — including my own — have seen the devastating effects of wildfires, flash floods and other natural disasters,” said NACo President Sallie Clark.  “Counties are on the front lines of emergency response and preparedness, and we’re pursuing forward-thinking measures to mitigate risk and foster local resiliency.  The Naturally Resilient Communities project helps us leverage natural and other resources to make our neighborhoods safer and more secure.”

American communities have recently had ample reminders of nature’s unpredictable fury.  Extreme weather events have become the unfortunate norm for many counties across the nation.  Since 2010, counties comprising 96 percent of the total U.S. population were affected by federally declared weather-related disasters, while average flood losses in the U.S. have increased steadily to nearly $10 billion. 

Often overlooked in mitigating risks from storms is the role that nature itself can play alongside traditional, manmade structures such as  seawalls, dams and levees.  For instance, riparian buffers, sand dunes and marshes can be used to help disperse floodwaters and absorb storm surges.  Restoring and strengthening natural systems not only helps counties become more resilient by mitigating risks from extreme weather, but it also brings additional economic, health and social benefits, such as cleaner water, increased property values and enhanced tourism and recreational opportunities.

Through the Naturally Resilient Communities project, NACo is currently working to identify and promote examples of nature-based solutions that counties have already used to increase both resiliency and quality of life.  The examples will be compiled in a guide that will be available online and  serve as a helpful tool to support counties in investing in nature-based solutions to address their flooding challenges  

Showcase your use of nature to reduce flooding’s impact 

Please submit any recommendations about your natural infrastructure best practices to Jack Morgan, NACo program manager, by Monday, May 9.

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About Jack Morgan (Full Bio)

Program Manager – Community and Economic Development

Jack Morgan works as a Program Manager for Community and Economic Development in NACo's Community, Economic and Workforce Development practice area. He handles community and economic development, resilience and transportation grants and programs.