Floodplain Prioritization Tool

Photo Credit: Robert J. Hurt
The Nature Conservancy developed the new Floodplain Prioritization Tool (FP Tool) to identify critical opportunities for floodplain conservation and restoration in the Mississippi River Basin. Working with data developed by the Conservancy and provided by several partners, the FP Tool is designed to help identify places where these actions would have the greatest impact on the overall health of this iconic river system. This first-of-its-kind tool is interactive, web-based and designed to help decision-makers—like federal, state and local governments, county planners, land trusts, and businesses—optimize their conservation and restoration investments and minimize the impacts of development. For the portfolio of priority sites identified throughout the basin, the Floodplain Prioritization Tool allows stakeholders to identify priorities and assess tradeoffs related to nutrient removal, wildlife habitat, flooding and other goals.

The applicability of this new tool is important because floodplains are incredibly hard-working ecosystems that can improve water quality, reduce flood impacts, provide critical wildlife habitat and enhance recreational opportunities. But tens of millions of acres of floodplains across the Mississippi River Basin have been developed or converted to agriculture. These changes in land use have degraded water quality, increased flood impacts, and diminished habitat for fish and wildlife, all of which takes a toll on the economy and the quality of life for people.

FP Tool Partners. Partners that contributed data that’s used in the basin-wide version of the FP Tool include: Univ. of Bristol, UK*; Fathom*; Univ. of Iowa*; US Geological Survey; US Army Corps of Engineers; US Environmental Protection Agency; National Fish Habitat Partnership; US Fish and Wildlife Service; American Bird Conservancy; Natural Resources Conservation Service; and USA National Phenology Network. Asterisks (*) note those partners that provided data that was previously unavailable online.

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Photo credits this page ~ Main image: Robert J. Hurt