NORFMA 2015 Annual Conference

Floodplain Management: Decisions Today Last Beyond Tomorrow

Written by Jenny Baker, Senior Restoration Manager and Bob Carey, Director of Strategic Partnerships

At a recent Northwest Regional Floodplain Management Association conference, there was lots of talk not just about flooding and how to keep people reasonably safe in floodplains (the charge of floodplain managers), but also about habitat for salmon and other fish and wildlife. This is a sea change.  In many places today, and in this region just a few years back, floodplain management conferences largely entailed presentations and conversations about reducing flooding through engineering and regulations.  Conversations about fish, wildlife, clean water and recreation occurred at different gatherings by different people – even though they were talking about the same rivers and coasts.

Today, to the Northwest is leading the nation in developing a more holistic and sustainable approach to managing our waterways.  The idea that floodplains provide a multitude of benefits to people and nature is being incorporated in planning and projects by floodplain managers in cities and counties, state agencies and the feds around the northwest.  In addition to a keynote by our own Bob Carey on the Washington Floodplains by Design Initiative, there were sessions on levee setbacks and floodplain restoration, and folks mentioned habitat restoration, green infrastructure and salmon in their presentations.  Throughout the conference, presenters and audience members often referred to Floodplains by Design and the work of the Conservancy in Washington State. We’re excited to see the momentum building at multiple levels for plans and projects that have tangible, long-lasting outcomes for nature and people.