Natural Systems Can Help Protect Communities from Climate Impacts

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In testimony to the Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment hearing on “Concepts for the Next Water Resources Development Act: Promoting Resiliency of our Nation’s Water Resources Infrastructure,” the National Wildlife Federation expert highlighted the importance of natural systems to help communities be more resilient against increased impacts from climate change. 

“Healthy rivers, floodplains, wetlands, and shorelines are essential for resilient communities, resilient populations of fish and wildlife, and a vibrant outdoor economy,” said Melissa Samet, senior water resources counsel for the National Wildlife Federation, in prepared remarks. “These natural systems also reduce the need for structural flood and storm damage reduction projects and improve the effectiveness and resilience of levees and other water resources infrastructure. As we anticipate more frequent and severe storms and weather events, it is essential that we consider all tools at our disposal, including the use of natural systems to help absorb floodwaters and buffer communities.”

The National Wildlife Federation urges Congress to continue to advance important ecosystem restoration projects and enact the following new policy reforms to:

Mainstream the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ (Corps) use of natural infrastructure.  

Ensure effective mitigation and analysis of fish and wildlife impacts in accordance with long-standing legal requirements.

Accurately account for project costs and benefits, including for any losses and gains in the ecosystem services provided by healthy natural systems. 

Increase the Corps’ capacity to improve the resilience of water resources infrastructure, including by taking full advantage of the Corps’ existing authorities.


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