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National strategy for landslide loss reduction

September 28, 2022

Executive Summary

Landslide hazards are present in all 50 States and most U.S. territories, and they affect lives, property, infrastructure, and the environment. Landslides are the downslope move­ment of earth materials under the force of gravity. They can occur without any obvious trigger. Widespread or severe land­slide events are often driven by such hazards as hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, heavy rain events, flooding, and wildfires. Landslides can also cause their own cascading consequences, such as the spread of hazardous materials or the creation of devastating local tsunamis.

This strategy document describes goals and strategic actions of a comprehensive strategy to meet key challenges to reducing the Nation’s risk from landslide hazards equitably and effectively. The document follows the direction of the National Landslide Preparedness Act (Public Law 116–323) by presenting a strategy for addressing landslide hazards, including risk reduction and response. The act directs the Department of the Interior to establish a program that will work with State, Tribal, and local governments as well as with academia, the private sector, community-based groups, and nonprofit organizations to identify landslide hazards and risk and improve communication, coordination, and emergency preparedness, with the objective of reducing landslide losses. As the only Federal program dedicated to landslide hazard science, the U.S. Geological Survey’s Landslide Hazards Program will lead and coordinate many of the efforts described in this strategy document. Landslide hazard risk reduction must be undertaken collectively and collaboratively across the Federal Government. This strategy document will provide a framework for the creation of an interagency management plan that describes the programs, projects, workforce, and budgets required to carry out the national strategy.

The strategy outlined in this document presents a vision of how to equitably produce, communicate, and apply landslide data and science to support a broad range of land management, infrastructure, planning, and emergency response decisions. These decisions are made by a variety of actors, including private and nonprofit landholders; State, Tribal, territorial, city, and county planners; emergency managers; engineers; infrastructure managers; Federal agencies and their partners; and community leaders and individuals. Supporting those decisions and reducing the Nation’s vulnerability to landslides requires overcoming three main challenges: (1) gaps in basic information needed to describe and understand landslide occurrence and societal risk, (2) difficulty in accurately mapping and forecasting landslide hazards, and (3) communication and coordination among the many jurisdictions and sectors that have responsi­bility for and interest in reducing landslide losses. To address those challenges, this strategy document puts forward a series of strategic actions to achieve four goals:

  • Assess: Decision makers have access to detailed, nationwide, and contextually relevant information on land­slide hazard and risk.
  • Coordinate: Landslide hazard mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery efforts are coordinated across Federal, State, Tribal, territorial, and local levels.
  • Plan: Communities and land managers are prepared and able to plan for landslide hazards.
  • Respond: Landslide surveillance, warnings, and responses to events are effective, efficient, equitable, coopera­tive, and data-driven to protect lives, property, infrastructure, and the environment.

These strategic actions focus on expanding the knowl­edge of societal risk posed by landslides as well as better understanding of where, when, and why they occur. They focus on applying that knowledge to support landslide risk reduction efforts and decisions, including the establishment of new advisory, coordination, and working groups focused on landslide hazard and risk. They take into account that supporting landslide loss reduction decisions also requires new guidance, tools, and training codeveloped with the entities, organizations, and individuals faced with making those decisions. Finally, they address actions needed to support and expand landslide warning information and improve the technical response to landslide emergencies.

Publication Year 2022
Title National strategy for landslide loss reduction
DOI 10.3133/ofr20221075
Authors Jonathan W. Godt, Nathan J. Wood, Alice Pennaz, Connor M. Dacey, Benjamin B. Mirus, Lauren N. Schaefer, Stephen L. Slaughter
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Open-File Report
Series Number 2022-1075
Index ID ofr20221075
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Office of the AD Hazards