As the catastrophic Mississippi River flooding unfolds like a slow-motion train wreck, the first priorities of the federal, state, and local government are to prevent loss of life, minimize property damage and assist those in need with all resources possible. When the waters recede, it will be important to ask some tough questions. Was this truly a natural disaster or one that was caused (or at least exacerbated) by government policies? What pragmatic steps can be taken now and in the years ahead to better prepare and protect people and communities from future storms and floods?
In a new report, the National Wildlife Federation has identified five ways government policies and practices are contributing to the extraordinary flooding and resulting impacts, as well as five specific recommendations to help policymakers avoid and minimize catastrophes like this. Each of our recommendations has one thing in common – they promote the protection and restoration of natural defenses that are so critical to a safe, affordable and sustainable flood protection system. We recognize that levees, dams and other structural solutions will continue to play a role in flood protection and navigation, but the time has come for a more balanced approach that recognizes and utilizes the natural defenses afforded by healthy wetlands, floodplains and even farmland.
Restoring our natural defenses would reduce the pressure on levees and risk to communities, while sustaining and renewing the River's floodplain, rebuilding the delta's wetlands, and improving the health of the entire Mississipppi Basis for our generation and generations to come.
A blueprint for strengthening nature's defenses to better protect people and communities along the Mississippi River.
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