Gluesenkamp Perez, DelBene, Schrier Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Extend Landslide Protections

Jan 18, 2024
Press
Rep. Gluesenkamp Perez visits the SR 504 debris slide in August.

Yesterday, Rep. Marie Gluesenkamp Perez (WA-03), along with Reps. Suzan DelBene (WA-01) and Kim Schrier, MD (WA-08), introduced the bipartisan National Landslide Preparedness Act Reauthorization Act to help save lives, protect communities and property, and improve natural disaster emergency preparedness. 

The legislation would reauthorize the National Landslide Preparedness Act through 2028. Since 2021, the law has helped address key gaps in science and mapping critical to understanding landslide hazards. This information helps communities plan for and respond to natural hazards, update the nation’s topographical maps, and inform public safety, national security, planning, infrastructure, transportation, agriculture, and natural resource management. 

“Landslides are dangerous, damage our infrastructure, and can cut off access for emergency services. Southwest Washington experienced several landslides this past year, including ones that impacted Interstate 5, Amtrak operations, and access to Mount St. Helens. This summer, I visited the site of the SR 504 debris slide to meet with affected small business owners and see cleanup efforts firsthand – and these disasters impact entire communities and take all hands on deck to overcome,” said Rep. Gluesenkamp Perez. “This bipartisan legislation will help our communities stay prepared and identify landslide-prone areas before it’s too late, which is an essential part of keeping folks safe.”

“We must recognize that every state faces some level of landslide risk and remain committed to proactively addressing the increasing rate of these hazards,” said Rep. DelBene. “This legislation ensures the critical research that is already providing the information and resources necessary to help communities prepare for and mitigate the fatal impacts of landslides can continue uninterrupted.”

“Nearly ten years ago, our community felt the devastating impact of landslides firsthand as the SR 530 Landslide claimed 43 lives, making it the deadliest in U.S. history,” said Rep. Schrier. “This bill will make crucial investments to further our understanding of landslides, improve our preparation for these natural disasters, and ultimately safeguard our communities. This is even more important as increasing wildfire west of the Cascades raises the risk of landslides.”

The bill would reauthorize key pieces of the National Landslide Preparedness Act, set to expire this year:

  • Expanded early warning systems: The law expanded existing early warning systems for post-wildfire landslides in recently burned areas across the United States. It also required procedures to be developed for federal monitoring of stormwater drainage in areas with a high risk of landslides, in coordination with state, local, and tribal governments.
  • Federal program focused specifically on landslide hazards: The law established a National Landslides Hazard Reduction program through the U.S. Geological Survey, which is identifying risks and hazards from landslides to protect at-risk communities and improve communication and emergency preparedness.
  • New maps to help communities prepare for landslide risk: The law directed the USGS to implement a 3D Elevation Program to increase data collection and landslide threat identification across the country. Enhanced elevation data, such as LIDAR, is critical for numerous reasons—to help communities plan for and respond to natural hazards; to update the nation’s topographical maps; and to inform a myriad of uses including public safety, national security, planning, infrastructure, transportation, agriculture, and natural resource management.
  • Landslide-related grant programs: The law authorized new programs to provide funding to state, territorial, local, and tribal governments for landslide research, mapping, assessment, and data collection.
  • Committees that better deal with landslide risks: The law established an advisory committee on landslides and creates an interagency committee to coordinate better landslide responses from the multiple government agencies with jurisdiction.

The National Landslide Preparedness Act Reauthorization Act is cosponsored by Reps. Rick Larsen (WA-02), Dan Newhouse (WA-04), Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05), Derek Kilmer (WA-06), Adam Smith (WA-09), Marilyn Strickland (WA-10), Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01), and Matt Cartwright (PA-08).

The bill is endorsed by the National Society of Professional Surveyors and the U.S. Geospatial Executives Organization.

The full text of the legislation can be found here.

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