A Green Infrastructure Guidebook for City Planners

This new online resource showcases how communities across the country have successfully mitigated the effects of extreme weather by relying on green infrastructure.

Ninety-six percent of the country’s population lives in counties where federally declared weather-related disasters have occurred since 2010. Federal programs help mitigate these scenarios: EPA programs study climate change and issue guidelines about combating global warming; FEMA provides disaster assistance to mitigate these effects. But under Trump’s budget plan, these programs stand to lose their funding.

The budget blueprint, which emphasizes military spending at the cost of cuts across other agencies, would hit the EPA hard—the agency would absorb a cut of $2.6 billion, or 31 percent of its budget. In the meantime, U.S. counties are not waiting around to feel the aftermath. Many are—and have already been—heavily investing in natural resources to address concerns on a local level. Now, they’ve got a new online resource that makes it easier to do so. Naturally Resilient Communities is an interactive tool featuring 30 case studies of places that rely on nature-based solutions to protect themselves against climate threats like flooding and coastal erosion.

Developed by the Nature Conservancy, in partnership with the American Planning Association, American Society of Civil Engineers, National Association of Counties, and the Association of State Floodplain Managers, the case studies reveal stories of cities that have rebuilt after devastating storms. Reviewing a range of green infrastructure solutions, the resource works as a one-stop hub for city planners, engineers, and community leaders.

The tool prompts users to select a hazard their city faces, with options ranging from coastal erosion to storm water flooding. Then, a menu pops up listing relevant mitigation efforts around natural infrastructure, such as green streets that reduce the flow of stormwater in Portland and wetland habitats that combat flooding in Dallas. The tool is “designed in a way that is very easy to understand—you don’t need to be an engineer to read through the case studies and see how these solutions helped,” says Nathan Woiwode, project lead at the Nature Conservancy Fund. The tool also provides ample space for customization, letting users pick their region, community type (urban, suburban, or rural), as well as scale and cost.

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