on the Gulf Coast of Texas.
A living shoreline on the Gulf Coast of Texas. © Jerod Foster


Disaster Relief Funding Promotes Investing in Nature to Reduce Flood Risk

Arlington, Va.

The U.S. House of Representatives on Monday approved $19.04 billion in disaster relief funding for communities that sustained damage during hurricanes Florence and Michael, as well as wildfires and other disasters in 2018 and 2019.

The U.S. Senate passed similar legislation last month, and now the president must sign it into law.

The bill includes multiple provisions that would help communities use nature to reduce their flood risk.

“We are pleased to see Congress prioritize investing in nature through this disaster relief bill,” said Sarah Murdock, director of U.S. climate resilience and water policy for The Nature Conservancy. “Nature-based solutions—including restoring wetlands and floodplains that reduce floodwaters, enhancing coastal habitats such as dunes that lessen storm surge impact and managing forests in ways that make them less fire prone—can help communities reduce their flood and wildfire risk and rebuild in ways that enhance resilience against future disasters.”

Provisions in the package that promote investing in nature include the following:

  • $50 million for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s National Coastal Resilience Fund grant program, which invests in restoring, increasing and strengthening natural infrastructure to protect coastal communities and enhance habitat.
  • $435 million for the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Watershed and Flood Prevention Program, which helps communities recover after natural disasters that impair watersheds.
  • $1.775 billion for the Army Corps of Engineers’ investigations and projects aiming to reduce flood and storm damage risk.
  • $720 million for the Forest Service to repay money borrowed from non-fire accounts and fund wildfire suppression activities.
  • $15.5 million for the Bureau of Reclamation to provide fire remediation and emergency suppression assistance.
  • $50 million for the Fish and Wildlife Service’s efforts to restore and rebuild wildlife refuges and increase coastal resilience.
  • $2.431 billion for the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery Program for efforts that promote long-term recovery, infrastructure and housing restoration, economic revitalization and investments in risk reduction.

“We urge the president to swiftly sign this bill so communities can begin using these much-needed funds to rebuild stronger, more resilient infrastructure,” Murdock said. 

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 72 countries and territories: 38 by direct conservation impact and 34 through partners, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.