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News Release

U.S. Department of the Interior
U.S. Geological Survey

Release: March 23, 2015

John Clemens
Ryan McClymont

In Floodplains, Protecting People Can Also Improve Habitat Health

TACOMA, Wash. — Floodplains in the Puget Sound region can be managed to protect people and also increase the health of rivers, according to a new U.S. Geological Survey report. USGS scientists mapped both ecological functions and flood-related risks to people on floodplains along the 17 major rivers in the Puget Sound Basin.

“These maps identify likely factors that would have to be addressed to recover floodplain function or reduce flood risk at a given location,” said Chris Konrad, USGS hydrologist and author of the report. “In many places, improving ecological function is consistent with reducing risk to people on floodplains.”

The report was prepared in cooperation with The Nature Conservancy, Washington State Department of Ecology and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

“Protecting and restoring the many functions floodplains perform, including protecting our communities from the effects of high river flows while providing important habitats for salmon and other native species, are integral to the recovery of Puget Sound,” said Sheida R. Sahandy, Executive Director of the Puget Sound Partnership. “The USGS’s analysis can contribute to a better understanding of where there may be opportunities to help local floodplain managers ensure their floodplains are resilient and continue to perform these valuable functions into the future.”

The report, “Geospatial assessment of ecological functions and flood-related risks on floodplains along major rivers in the Puget Sound Basin, Washington,” by Christopher P. Konrad, is published as U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2015-2033 and is available online at

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