The Natural Floodplain Functions Alliance (NFFA) is an affiliation of nonprofit and private organizations, government agencies and individuals dedicated to the protection and preservation of the natural functions of floodplains, including coastal areas.  As a founding member of the NFFA, the Association of State Wetland Managers is pleased to provide a place on its website, but ASWM is one of many NFFA members and these webpages represent the collective work and contributions of NFFA member organizations.  These webpages provide information about NFFA, its activities and publications and reports useful to those interested in learning more about the importance of natural floodplains.  NFFA was established to “promote, protect, and enhance the protection, restoration, and management of natural floodplain resources.”  Members share information and may elect to coordinate actions on issues of interest, but the Natural Floodplain Function Alliance does not take formal positions on matters of national policy, guidance or legislation.  For a copy of the Natural Floodplain Function Alliance mission statement, goals and objectives click here.

For more information or if you are interested in joining the alliance, please contact Dave Fowler with the Association of State Floodplain Managers (262-643-9035) or Marla Stelk with the Association of State Wetland Managers (207-892-3399).

DATA NEEDS, GAPS AND INTEROPERABILITY FOR
INTEGRATED MAPPING AND FUNCTIONAL ASSESSMENT OF
RIVERINE AND COASTAL FLOODPLAINS AND WETLANDS

A Natural Floodplain Functions Alliance and Wetland Mapping Consortium Workshop*

LOCATION: The Nature Conservancy Headquarters, 4245 Fairfax Dr #100, Arlington, VA 22203

DATE: September 30, 2019

INFORMATION AND RESOURCES

  • Agenda

Data Needs, Gaps and Interoperability for Integrated Mapping and Functional Assessment of Riverine and Coastal Floodplains and Wetlands

  • Presentations

1) An Interactive GIS-Based Tool to Guide Floodplain Protection and Restoration in the Mississippi River Basin - Eugene Yacobson, The Nature Conservancy [POWERPOINT PRESENTATION]

2)Vermont’s Partnership for Functioning Floodplains Mike Kline, Vermont Department of
Environmental Conservation [POWERPOINT PRESENTATION]

3) Building Capacity for Watershed and Community Resiliency in Wisconsin’s Lake Superior Basin - Andy Robertson, Saint Mary’s Univ. of Minnesota and Kyle Magyera, Wisconsin Wetlands Association [POWERPOINT PRESENTATION]

4) The Iowa Watershed Approach: A Vision for a More Resilient Iowa - Larry Weber, Iowa Flood Center [POWERPOINT PRESENTATION] 

  • Final Report 

Data Needs, Gaps and Interoperability for Integrated Mapping and Functional Assessment of Riverine and Coastal Floodplains and Wetlands - Association of State Wetland Managers - September 30, 2019

Disaster Recovery Lessons Learned: Achieving the Best Possible Outcomes for our Communities and Stream Corridors

Tuesday, May 12, 2020 - 3:00pm-4:30pm Eastern

View Webinar

INTRODUCTION

William Dooley, Policy Analyst, Association of State Wetland Managers [POWERPOINT PRESENTATION]

PRESENTERS [POWERPOINT PRESENTATION]

• Jeffrey Sickles, Engenuity Engineering Solutions 
• Katie Jagt, Watershed Science and Design
• Michael Blazewicz, Round River Design 

PRESENTATION DESCRIPTION

This presentation was intended for a wide audience and outlines specific lessons learned during the 2013 Colorado Flood Recovery: some lessons we shared in this are from successes and others are from stumbles, failures, or opportunities that were never realized. The presentation covered highlights of lessons learned from several of the phases and processes involved in recovery including: Organizing for recovery, shared corridors, disaster response, recovery planning, permitting, and pre-disaster planning.

For those interested in reviewing the associated book developed by the presentation team, which goes into more depth on each topic, they can find the document at the link below:

Colorado Disaster Recovery, Lessons Learned: A guide to plan, react, adapt, evolve, and achieve the best possible outcomes for our communities and stream corridors

Additional topics covered in the book, but not anticipated to be covered during the presentation, include: the human element, project identification and scoping, design, construction, revegetation, monitoring, and adaptive management.

BIOS

Jeffrey Sickles, PE, CFMJeffrey Sickles, PE, CFM is a professional engineer focused on watersheds, rivers, and stormwater systems. Jeff is the founder of Enginuity Engineering Solutions, a civil engineering consulting firm. He has been working in the Colorado professional water resources community his entire career since 1994. Jeff primarily works with local governments providing expertise in planning, assessment, design, implementation, and management. Jeff led the State of Colorado’s 2013 Phase 2 Emergency Watershed Protection Program, overseeing the implementation of $50 million in flood recovery improvements specifically focused on stream function and working with natural systems.

Jeff is a past Regional Board Director for the Association of State Floodplain Managers and currently serves as a Committee Co-Chair for the Association's Stormwater Committee where he recently completed a paper focused on Urban Flood Hazards. Other specific areas of expertise include floodplain management, floodplain hydraulic modeling, stream rehabilitation and restoration, stormwater systems, and construction oversight. Jeff is well known within the water resources community for his emphasis on collaboration and innovation.

Jeff grew up in Evergreen, Colorado where his child-like curiosity found him wandering through creeks, wetlands, and floating rafts on ponds; a foreshadowing of his future career in rivers and river science. He attended the University of Colorado in Boulder where he obtained a B.S. in Civil Engineering. He currently resides in Highlands Ranch with his bride of 12 years with whom he raised five children, non of which decided to follow in his footsteps in engineering or river science. Empty nesters now, he and his wife travel regularly exploring the world, but realizing that at the end of it all, Colorado is a pretty amazing place to live.


Katie Jagt, PE, CFM Katie Jagt, PE, CFM is a water resource engineer and fluvial geomorphologist as well as the owner and founder of Watershed Science and Design. Katie has immersed herself in navigating the inter-connectedness and inter-dependencies of the physical and social landscape within watersheds and her focus is on understanding how human actions and interventions can influence a river system—and vice versa. Her career began in Seattle where she focused on the use of wood in river restoration and flood mitigation projects, she then moved to California and shifted towards planning for and quantifying the multiple benefits of large scale floodplain reconnection projects. Katie returned home to Colorado in 2012, and since 2013 has been providing extensive support to the State of Colorado in the wake of the 2013 Floods. Katie acted as deputy program manager for the execution of the EWP Phase 2 program and was a member of the CDBG-DR Technical Assistance team, providing engineering, geomorphic, and watershed science support to stakeholders, grantees, the State of Colorado and federal agencies. Additionally, Katie, along with Michael Blazewicz, is a lead author and developer of the State of Colorado’s Fluvial Hazard Zone Mapping program.

Katie has a M.S. in Civil Engineering from the University of California at Berkeley, a B.S. in Civil Engineering from Seattle University and was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship for post-graduate research on flood mitigation and ecosystem restoration at TU Delft in The Netherlands. Katie enjoys quiet snowy mornings, hot coffee, skiing, lifting heavy objects, hiking, river trips, cooking and is training to become a Yin Yoga Instructor. She hopes this document gives you insight into the road ahead.

Michael BlazewiczMichael Blazewicz is the founder of Round River Design a consulting firm that teams with scientists, engineers, planners and ecological designers to restore degraded stream corridors for the benefit of the human and natural communities that depend on healthy watersheds. The company takes its name from Aldo Leopold's classic essay which discussed a metaphorical river forever flowing through the land and then back into itself. Land, water, and communities, Leopold wrote, are not separate. Identifying, respecting, and enhancing these underlying connections lies at the root of Michael’s work where for the past 20 years he has focused on rehabilitating degraded river systems in the Northeast, Northwest, and Colorado. In Colorado, Michael worked cross-agency on the 2013 flood recovery effort working to assess, design, permit, construct and monitor restoration efforts as a core member of a Technical Assistance Team. His multi-functional design perspective was among the primary drivers working to innovate planning and implementation efforts. He recently co-authored a protocol, along with Katie Jagt, for the State of Colorado to map fluvial hazards with the long term goal of protecting life and infrastructure by identifying and avoiding existing hazards created when energized streams seek to express themselves on the landscape. In his spare time he practices permaculture design, runs and bikes mountain trails, and likes to ski, climb, hockey, surf, yoga, float rivers and sometimes even walk.

Michael designed an undergraduate study in watershed restoration at the University of Vermont (1999) and years later earned a masters of environmental management from the Yale School of Forestry (2010).  

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Part 1: Introduction: William Dooley, Policy Analyst, Association of State Wetland Managers
Presenter: Jeffrey Sickles, Engenuity Engineering Solutions

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Part 2: Presenters: Katie Jagt, Watershed Science and Design and Michael Blazewicz, Round River Design

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Part 3: Presenter: Michael Blazewicz, Round River Design
Questions/Answers

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The Geography of Risk

Held Tuesday, March 10, 2020 - 3:00pm-4:30pm

View Webinar

Presenter: Gilbert M. GaulINTRODUCTION

William Dooley, Policy Analyst, Association of State Wetland Managers [POWERPOINT PRESENTATION]

PRESENTER

PRESENTATION DESCRIPTION

The last two decades have seen a dramatic increase in losses from hurricanes and floods at the coast – nearly $1 Trillion dollars, with the federal government paying for most of the damage. This talk explored the reasons for the surge in damages and losses, the risks posed by unchecked development on barrier islands, floodplains and wetlands, the likelihood of even larger losses in an age of climate change (warming oceans, sea level rise, bigger & more The Geography of Riskcatastrophic hurricanes and torrential rain bombs), and the ongoing efforts to make coastal communities more resilient.

BIO

Gilbert M. Gaul was Awarded Pulitzer Prizes in 1979 and 1990, and has been a finalist for the Pulitzer four other times. Formerly a reporter for The Washington Post, New York Times and Philadelphia Inquirer, he now writes books, including “The Geography of Risk: Epic Storms, Rising Seas and the Cost of America’s Coasts”, the subject of today’s webinar. He lives and surfs in New Jersey and North Carolina. 

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Part 1: Introduction: William Dooley, Policy Analyst, Association of State Wetland Managers
Presenter: Gilbert M. Gaul, Author

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Part 2: Presenter: Gilbert M. Gaul, Author

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Part 3: Questions/Answers

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View Past Natural Floodplain Functions Alliance Webinars Here

View a List of Past Natural Floodplain Functions Alliance Webinar Recordings Here

View Upcoming Natural Floodplain Functions Alliance Webinars Here

Focusing on Pre-Event Resilience Building—The Zurich Flood Resilience Alliance Approach

Held Monday, November 18, 2019 - 9:00 a.m.-10:30 a.m. Central

Hosted by the Association of State Floodplain Managers

Presenter:

  • Michael Szönyi, MSc, MAS Natural Hazards Management ETH, Flood Resilience Program Lead

Description: In the last five years, a multi-sector alliance of the NGOs sector, academia and Zurich’s risk management experts has focused on shifting from the traditional emphasis on post-event recovery to stress pre-event resilience. More than 110 communities in nine countries have benefited from alliance projects. The evidence-based approach built through dozens of research papers published and implemented in the community programs across the globe illustrates the value of investing in flood resilience.

Flood resilience, however, continues to have trouble gaining wide acceptance and is held back by a lack of investment. According to the ClimateWise Investing for Resilience report, of USD $175 billion economic losses in 2016 that related to natural hazards (of which floods are a major part ) only $50 billion were insured. This $125 billion protection gap is due in part to the lack of evidence of “what works” and because there are few incentives and regulations to encourage investments into sound protection measures at all levels of society. That is why the Alliance’s objectives for the next five-year period will be:

  • Supporting the generation of $1 billion in additional funding for flood resilience
  • Encouraging effective public policy in support of flood resilience
  • Developing sound practices and policy support for flood resilience
  • Measurably enhancing flood resilience in vulnerable communities across the world.

“Floods affect more people globally than any other type of natural hazard and cause some of the largest economic, social and humanitarian losses,” said Linda Freiner, Group Head of Sustainability. “By using Zurich’s risk expertise as a global insurer, we can help customers and communities reduce the devastating impacts of floods - even before a flood hits - and build resilience to this disaster. We will work with the alliance members to raise USD $1 billion for investing into building resilience to floods globally – and save lives.”

Alliance members aim to achieve the financial target by rolling out best-practice community programs that will prove the value of resilience-building. The alliance members will share knowledge about the existing and future achievements to encourage various stakeholders to invest in resilience.

Target Audience: Planners, Engineers, Floodplain Managers and other professionals in the field.

BIO

Michael Szönyi is member of executive staff in the Group’s Sustainability function with Zurich Insurance Company. He leads Zurich’s award winning Flood Resilience Program, a multi-sector alliance with academia, humanitarian organizations and the private sector, aiming to enhance community flood resilience. The program, originally started in 2012, was recently extended to run in a second phase from 2018-2023.

With his natural hazards expertise, Mr. Szönyi is also responsible for advising the company and all alliance partners on risk insights and risk mitigation strategies as part of the program. A center piece is the implementation of the self-developed flood resilience measurement framework across currently 12 program countries with over 100 communities. In addition, Michael is leading the post-event review function PERC and manages the research partnerships.

Before joining the flood resilience program at its outset in 2012 and taking over as its leader in 2016, Mr. Szönyi previously led the Global Technical Center for Natural Hazards in Risk Engineering. He has 12 years of insurance industry experience, all with Zurich. He has significant expertise in property and natural hazards related risk assessments for commercial customers. He was nominated “Young Risk Management Achiever of the Year” in 2011. Mr. Szönyi has Master Degrees in Natural Hazards Management and in Geophysics, both from ETH Zurich.

For more information or assistance, please contact Kevin at .

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Presenter: Michael Szönyi, MSc, MAS Natural Hazards Management ETH, Flood Resilience Program Lead

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Engineering with Nature for Flood Risk Management

Held Tuesday, October 15, 2019 - 3:00 p.m. Eastern

INTRODUCTION

William Dooley, Policy Analyst, Association of State Wetland Managers [POWERPOINT PRESENTATION]

PRESENTER

ABSTRACT

The webinar provided an update on the USACE Engineering With Nature® initiative, including the recent publication of the book “Engineering With Nature: an Atlas” that includes descriptions of 56 projects around the world. The growing international interest in leveraging natural systems and processes to support engineering functions, while also producing environmental and social value, is reflected in a number of projects, programs, and initiatives around the world, which will be used to highlight the lessons being learned as well as needs and opportunities for the future.

BIO

Dr. Todd S. Bridges is the U.S. Army’s Senior Research Scientist (ST) for Environmental Science. He leads a number of research, development and environmental initiatives for the U.S. Army and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in the areas of sustainable infrastructure, risk and decision analysis methods, and sediment assessment and management. Dr. Bridges is the National Lead for the USACE Engineering with Nature® initiative, which includes a network of research projects, field demonstrations, and communication activities to promote sustainable, resilient infrastructure systems. He leads efforts for USACE on the use of Natural and Nature-Based Features (NNBF) to support flood risk management, including an international collaboration to develop guidelines on the use of NNBF for coastal and fluvial systems.

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Part 1: Introduction: William Dooley, Policy Analyst, Association of State Wetland Managers
Presenter: Todd Bridges, PhD, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

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Part 2: Presenter: Todd Bridges, PhD, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

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Reducing Flood Risk and Restoring Ecosystems through Science and Planning   

Held Tuesday, June 4, 2019 

INTRODUCTION

William Dooley, Policy Analyst, Association of State Wetland Managers, Marla Stelk, Executive Director, Association of State Wetland Managers [POWERPOINT PRESENTATION]

PRESENTERS

  • Kris Johnson, PhD, Associate Director for Science & Planning, North America Agriculture Program, The Nature Conservancy [POWERPOINT PRESENTATION] 
  • Christine Shepard, PhD, Director of Science, Gulf of Mexico Program, The Nature Conservancy [POWERPOINT PRESENTATION]
  • Lily Verdone, Director of Freshwater and Marine, The Nature Conservancy [POWERPOINT PRESENTATION]

ABSTRACTS

Kris Johnson, PhD
Science & decision tools to guide floodplain protection and restoration in the Mississippi Basin

A majority of the floodplains in the Mississippi River Basin have been converted from natural ecosystems to agriculture or development and are hydrologically disconnected and degraded. Protecting and restoring floodplains is critical to reducing flood impacts to people and property, improving water quality, enhancing wildlife habitat and providing other valuable benefits. Although more funding and capacity are needed to increase the scale and pace of restoration, floodplain management decisions can be informed by a new online tool developed by The Nature Conservancy to help prioritize important areas for floodplain conservation and restoration projects.

Christine Shepard, PhD and Lily Verdone
Strategic Property Buyouts to Enhance Flood Resilience: Creating a Model for Flood Risk Reduction, Community Protection, and Environmental Gains

Using post-Hurricane Harvey damage assessments for Harris County, Texas, we created a strategic approach to voluntary property buyouts that prioritizes clustering buyout properties considering their proximity to open spaces as well as additional environmental and social benefits. Our results show that prioritizing buyouts is cost effective and creates green spaces that add multiple values. This study provides a roadmap for buyout selection that can enhance open space, reduce flood risk, and create more natural amenities for residents to enjoy. In Houston and across coastal and flood-impacted regions nationwide, it can help leaders develop strategic buyout programs that create safer, more resilient communities.

BIOS

Kris Johnson, The Nature ConservancyKris Johnson, PhD is the Associate Director for Science & Planning for the North America Agriculture Program of The Nature Conservancy. In this role he leads efforts to integrate science into collaborations with public and private partners to catalyze conservation and improved agricultural management across North America. Prior to joining The Nature Conservancy, Kris was the Sustainability Scientist at the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment. He received a bachelor’s degree from Bowdoin College and an MS and PhD in Conservation Biology from the University of Minnesota, where his dissertation research focused on ecosystem services in agriculture. Kris was a Fulbright Scholar, a MacArthur Scholar, and remains a Senior Fellow in Sustainable Agricultural Systems at the University of Minnesota.

Christine Shepard, Ph.D., The Nature ConservancyChristine Shepard, PhD, is the Director of Science for the Nature Conservancy’s Gulf of Mexico program. Christine’s primary research focuses on assessing coastal hazards risk, quantifying the role coastal habitats play in reducing risk, and identifying where ecosystem-based approaches such as conservation or restoration are likely to be effective for risk reduction. In addition, Christine works to develop innovative spatial analyses and community engagement tools to help decision makers address coastal risks from climate change and coastal hazards like storms and sea-level rise. She co-authored the 2012 World Risk Report in partnership with United Nations University and was a member of the Department of Interior’s Strategic Science Working Group "Operational Group Sandy" deployed to assist the Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force.

Lily Verdone, The Nature ConservancyLily Verdone joined The Nature Conservancy in 2010 to work on mission-driven projects with talented colleagues. Over the years, Lily has provided leadership on projects ranging from large-scale river restoration to state-wide strategic planning on coastal development; as well as, partnered with military, government agencies, corporations, NGOs, water districts and farmers to develop and implement strategies that achieve multi-benefit conservation outcomes. In her current role as Director of Freshwater and Marine for The Nature Conservancy in Texas, Lily is leading a multi-disciplinary team of marine, coastal and freshwater professionals to produce cutting-edge science and work with partners to integrate this science into on-the-ground actions and policy. Lily has two decades of experience as a soup-to-nuts conservation biologist addressing climate adaptation and urban conservation issues in California, Mexico and the South West. She attended Sonoma State University where she obtained a B.A. in Environmental Studies and Planning and an M.S. in Biology.

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Part 1: Introduction: William Dooley, Policy Analyst and Marla Stelk, Executive Director, ASWM
Presenter: Kris Johnson, PhD, North America Agriculture Program, The Nature Conservancy

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Part 2: Presenter: Lily Verdone, Director of Freshwater and Marine, The Nature Conservancy and Christine Shepard, PhD, Director of Science, Gulf of Mexico Program, The Nature Conservancy

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Part 3: Questions/Answers

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Floodplains and Green Infrastructure as Tools for Hazard Mitigation: Barriers and Funding Opportunities

Held Tuesday, May 14, 2019 

INTRODUCTION

  • William Dooley, Policy Analyst, Association of State Wetland Managers, Marla Stelk, Executive Director, Association of State Wetland Managers [POWERPOINT PRESENTATION]

PRESENTERS

ABSTRACTS

Brad Gordon
Policy Barriers and Solutions for Restoring Row Crops to Floodplains

American Rivers has been working with partners to restore more floodplains in the Upper Mississippi River Basin. Most of our current projects are targeting repetitively flooded cropland to restore to natural floodplains. Through these projects, we have discovered some barriers that, if addressed, could lead to more restoration projects in the basin. Some current efforts include directing nutrient pollution reduction funds toward floodplain restoration, providing economic analyses for farmers in the floodplain, and fast-tracking disaster relief to floodplain easements. While the barriers are becoming clearer, we still need to connect the dots between more on-the-ground needs and solutions.

Rowan Schmidt
Leveraging FEMA Funding for Nature-Based Solutions to Support Hazard Mitigation

Natural disasters such as floods, wildfires, and droughts are increasing in frequency and severity in the US. FEMA has begun to recognize and emphasize the value of investing in the conservation and stewardship of healthy landscapes for mitigating the impacts of floods, wildfires, and droughts, as reflected by recent policy updates in 2013 and 2016, and is also placing a greater emphasis on proactive investments before disasters occur (PDM). Earth Economics supported FEMA on the economics behind their 2013 and 2016 policies and has been supporting partners in CA (post-wildfire), TX (post-Harvey) and other states to navigate these opportunities, conduct benefit-cost analysis, and apply for HMPG funding for projects that have overlapping conservation and hazard mitigation benefits.

BIOS

Brad GordonBrad Gordon is the Lapham Fellow at American Rivers as he resides in St. Paul, MN. He is finishing his PhD in Water Resources Science from the University of Minnesota, has an M.S. in Environmental Science from Taylor University, and has a B.S. in Biology from the University of Northwestern-St. Paul. His research has been on better understanding and improving the effectiveness of edge-of-field practices to reduce nutrient and sediment losses in agricultural landscapes and the role of vegetation in restoration success and water quality. These projects have covered multiple practices which include constructed wetlands, woodchip bioreactors, saturated buffers, restored wetlands, and ravine stabilization. Since starting his fellowship with American Rivers, Brad has been focusing on the nexus of floodplain restoration, flooded cropland, and nutrient removal. As he focuses on the Upper Mississippi River Basin, he is working with state and federal agency staff in agricultural watersheds to reconnect and restore floodplains.

Rowan SchmidtRowan Schmidt has been a part of the Earth Economics team since 2010. From urban infrastructure to disaster recovery and resilience, he leads the organization’s work around finance and investment strategies for green infrastructure and also supports the business development team. His work has helped to support policy changes at the local, state, and federal levels by identifying key opportunities and fostering partnerships among diverse stakeholders. Whether he’s working with municipal utilities, federal agencies, multi-national NGOS, local community groups, or private businesses, Rowan is passionate about identifying funding mechanisms and policy levers that yield the greatest economic, environmental, and social benefits.



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Part 1: Introduction: William Dooley, Policy Alnalyst & Marla Stelk, Executive Director, ASWM
Presenter: Rowan Schmidt, Program Director, Earth Economics

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Part 2: Presenter: Brad Gordon, Lapham Fellow at American Rivers

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Part 3: Questions/Answers

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View Past Natural Floodplain Functions Alliance Webinars Here

View a List of Past Natural Floodplain Functions Alliance Webinar Recordings Here

View Upcoming Natural Floodplain Functions Alliance Webinars Here