What Cities Are Doing

Many cities and towns across the US have already begun to prepare for the impacts of climate change like flooding, increased temperatures, and habitat loss. The cities featured here are using nature to protect people and property from the impacts of climate change while also benefiting wildlife.


Located on the windy shores of Lake Michigan, Chicago is preparing to deal with flooding, extreme heat, severe weather events, and ecosystem degradation. To cope with extreme summer heat, Chicago has planned or installed over 4 million square feet of green roofs across the city. The trees, plants, and soil used in green roofs provide shade and absorb far less heat than manufactured roofing materials while providing habitat for wildlife. (Download factsheet)

Flooded Road in Oxbow, North Dakota

Chula Vista, CA

Just seven miles north of the California-Mexico border, the coastal city of Chula Vista is preparing for water shortages, habitat connectivity issues, coastal flooding, erosion, energy shortages, and wetland degradation. In order to cope with coastal and inland flooding, Chula Vista is restoring wetlands and increasing natural, open spaces like parks and urban forests. These landscapes will help absorb stormwater and serve as natural flood barriers while providing valuable wildlife habitat. (Download factsheet)

Grand Rapids, MI

On the shores of Lake Michigan, Grand Rapids is preparing for increased flooding, threats to water quality, ecosystem degradation, and invasive species. In order to protect ecosystems and the habitats they provide, the City is increasing public tree plantings and green spaces to increase biodiversity while providing valuable habitat corridors for species forced to migrate due to changing climate conditions. (Download factsheet)

Beach access path

Houston, TX

Houston, located on Texas's Gulf Coast, is preparing to deal with dangerously high temperatures, drought, flooding, and increasingly powerful hurricanes among many other climate impacts. In order to prepare for the yearly threat of hurricanes, a regional planning council has suggested that Houston restore and protect wetlands and other coastal habitats. Natural features like sand dunes and wetlands are able to act as buffers to storm surge, flood waters, and rising sea levels, and maintaining them in their optimal states would have numerous benefits for people and wildlife. (Download factsheet)

Keene, NH

In southwestern New Hampshire, the town of Keene is expecting flooding, wetland degradation, tree loss, decreased snowpack, and drought. In order to manage the flooding caused by increased, non-snow precipitation, Keene is redefining their 200-year floodplain and adjusting zoning regulations to prevent any future development within these high-risk areas. This change will directly prevent loss of property and maintain the capacity of rivers and wetlands to function as natural habitat and flood suppressors. (Download factsheet)


Philadelphia, PA

Among other expected climate impacts, Philadelphia is bracing itself against stormwater flooding, extreme heat, wetland degradation, and habitat loss. The City has begun to combat extreme temperatures resulting from the urban heat island effect through an ambitious tree planting campaign on both public and private lands. The trees will provide cooling shade and valuable wildlife habitat, and Philadelphia hopes to reach 30% coverage within all neighborhoods. (Download factsheet)

Providence, RI

Located in the heart of the New England coastline, Providence has already begun preparations for a number of climate impacts, including sea-level rise, extreme weather events, increased pollution, drought, and loss of biodiversity. Coastal wetlands protect people and property from flooding and storm surge while providing habitat for wildlife. Providence is establishing protected buffer zones so that as sea-level rises, wetlands have space to migrate inland. Local non-profits are also funding eelgrass restoration and dam removal in coastal wetland areas to promote healthier, more resilient ecosystems. (Download factsheet)


San Luis Obispo, CA

San Luis Obispo County stretches from California’s central coast to its rural central valley. The County, in conjunction with the Geos Institute, has been engaged in planning efforts to cope with water shortages, habitat connectivity issues, coastal flooding, erosion, and wetland degradation. Of particular note is SLO’s wetland work: while many counties have been managing for migration and restoring existing wetlands, SLO is actually constructing new wetlands in areas deemed to be less vulnerable in the future in order to provide habitat for species and protect the valuable ecosystem services they provide. (Download factsheet)

More About Climate Smart Communities

Get Our E-Newsletter 
Subscribe to National Wildlife Magazine!