Wyden, Murkowski, Cantwell, Gardner, Feinstein reintroduce bill to help prepare and protect communities from landslides

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden, Lisa Murkowski, Maria Cantwell, Cory Gardner and Dianne Feinstein recently reintroduced bipartisan legislation to improve the science and coordination needed to help local communities prepare for and respond to landslides and other natural hazards.

S. 529, the National Landslide Preparedness Act, will help protect communities and property, save lives, and improve emergency preparedness and planning by targeting key gaps in current science and mapping critical to understanding landslide hazards and risks.

“The safety of Oregonians and families across America threatened by landslides and other natural disasters must be a priority for Congress,” Wyden said. “To help keep communities safe, they must be prepared. That means making sure they have access to the technology and resources needed to be ready when the next disaster strikes.”

The legislation would establish a National Landslide Hazards Reduction Program at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) to better identify and understand landslide risks, protect communities, save lives and property, and help improve emergency preparedness.

In addition, the bill would direct the USGS to implement a 3D Elevation Program to update and coordinate the collection of elevation data across the country using enhanced, high-resolution data. Enhanced elevation data helps communities plan for and respond to natural hazards; update the nation’s topographical maps; and inform uses including public safety, national security, planning, infrastructure, transportation, agriculture, and natural resource management.

High-resolution elevation data has been collected for only about a quarter of the United States. Much of the country relies on data collected more than 30 years ago using older techniques that do not provide the same resolution and benefits. According to an assessment conducted in partnership with the USGS, the creation of a nationwide program, as outlined in this bill, has the potential to generate $1.2 billion to $13 billion annually in new benefits.