The building and upkeep of a landslide hazards program: The confluence (collision?) of science, history, politics, and public opinion – A Blue Ridge perspective on a national challenge
Building and maintaining a landslide hazards program as a state agency presents many opportunities and challenges. Core functions of the North Carolina Geological Survey’s landslide hazards program have been to provide technical assistance in responses to landslide events, to conduct countywide landslide hazard mapping, and have evolved to include landslide monitoring. Funding for such programs competes with fluctuating societal and political priorities. Varying public opinions on landslide hazard mapping can be driven by people’s perceptions in the near-term aftermath of destructive landslide events, and over the long term by their views on science, the regulatory environment, and the societal role of government. Understanding the landslide history of the Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina provides insights into the frequency and magnitudes of landslide events, and into the human stories of tragedy and resilience that resonate with the public. Building partnerships in applied geology and basic research with other stakeholders within and outside the scientific community affords a means to adapt to changing political environments, and to continue progress toward landslide loss reduction. New technologies like lidar, uncrewed aerial systems, and machine learning create opportunities to augment and optimize landslide hazard studies. Landslide case examples will be presented to help illustrate these concepts.
Wooten R (2022) The building and upkeep of a landslide hazards program: The confluence (collision?) of science, history, politics, and public opinion – A Blue Ridge perspective on a national challenge. USGS Landslide Hazards Seminar, 11 May 2022.