Houston’s Exploration Green Honored with NWF-Allied World Resilience Award

A National Model for Using Natural Defenses to Reduce Risks from Disasters, Climate Hazards

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Recognizing a best-in-class example of using natural infrastructure to protect vulnerable communities, Houston’s Exploration Green is being honored with the National Wildlife Federation-Allied World Resilience Award. National Wildlife Federation President and CEO Collin O’Mara and Allied World President and CEO Scott Carmilani are presenting the inaugural award to the Clear Lake City Water Authority at the 2018 National Disaster Resilience Conference in Clearwater Beach, Florida, hosted by the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes.

Located in Houston’s Clear Lake City, Exploration Green is converting a former golf course into a 200-acre urban wetland and natural habitat. The project’s first phase acted as a sponge during Hurricane Harvey, protecting residents and their homes from potentially deadly flooding. Construction is divided into five phases and is set to be completed in 2021, ultimately creating retention ponds and wetlands, wildlife habitat, trails for recreation and commuting, and athletic fields.

“As communities across the nation face more and more extreme weather events fueled by climate change, we must drastically accelerate the completion of nature-based resilience solutions, like Exploration Green,” said Collin O’Mara. “This innovative project was planned brilliantly around the concept of retrofitting aging city infrastructure to provide natural defenses against flooding and leveraging a novel financing mechanism to get it done. By investing in protective natural systems that work with nature rather than against it, we can reduce risks before disasters strike communities across America.”

“Exploration Green is a national model for disaster risk reduction and we hope to see other communities follow its lead,” said Scott Carmilani. “Disaster recovery planning is no longer enough. It’s critical for government, communities, businesses and insurers to prioritize pre-disaster risk reduction, and take a proactive approach to understanding the protective functions that natural systems can provide.”

The National Wildlife Federation and Allied World Assurance Company have been partners in raising awareness of the role nature-based approaches can play in protecting our communities from weather and climate-related natural hazards, recently issuing our Natural Defenses in Action report and recommendations. Among the steps communities can take to use natural defenses to protect against disasters:

  • Invest in living shorelines, wetlands restoration, functional floodplains, and proactive forest management that provide long-term gains and protections for both wildlife and human communities
  • Adopt policies that protect and restore healthy rivers, wetlands, and other natural ecosystems to maximize flood, erosion, drought and wildfire protection
  • Encourage new or reconstructed levees to be set back from the water’s edge to improve floodplain function
  • Support conservation programs that protect and/or acquire environmentally sensitive natural systems and open space
  • Minimize incentives to develop high-risk areas like active floodplains or barrier islands by reforming insurance programs at the state and federal level

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