Lone wolves and copycats: A survey of floodplain administrators throughout Oregon

Authors: Samantha Hamlin*, Portland State University
Topics: Cultural and Political Ecology, Hazards and Vulnerability, Urban and Regional Planning
Keywords: Floods, floodplain management, green infrastructure, policy adoption
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/13/2018
Start / End Time: 1:20 PM / 3:00 PM
Room: Napoleon B3, Sheraton 3rd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The high risk and cost of flooding has led to extensive engineering of environmental and social systems as communities attempt to reduce the impacts on those living in the floodplain while still meeting environmental and economic goals. In the United States, there is a deep historical legacy of using built infrastructure to meet these needs, thereby supporting development in the floodplain and dictating future policy decisions. As this legacy evolves, communities are challenged to adapt approaches that protect this development in an equitable way. One approach that has gained traction in some communities is the voluntary acquisition of properties in the floodplain in order to restore floodplain function. While fruitful in those communities, the substantial resources required only highlight the disparity between community resources, particularly urban and rural communities. A key informant survey of floodplain administrators in communities across Oregon state was used to analyze flood hazard and floodplain management, particularly the types of infrastructure being used to meet community objectives, and the networks supporting policy diffusion. For instance, we have learned that in addition to flood control, communities are using these infrastructures to meet goals that, in some cases are equally important, such as water quality improvement. Some communities experience tension between the efficacy and curb appeal of some green infrastructure. Identifying community goals, and how previous management decisions are supporting or impeding the ability of communities to meet them, is critical in improving flood hazard and floodplain management.

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