Pew Trust: Climate Readiness Plan: Just (Let the Rivers) Go With the Flow

MAPLE VALLEY, Wash. — Standing amid cottonwood trees and a thicket of other vegetation, Jon Hansen looks out over a sunlight-dappled ribbon of crystal water running over a rocky bed. He’s standing on a site that until recently was filled with houses and mobile homes — properties that flooded six times in 20 years when the Cedar River spilled over its banks.

Hansen, the capital project manager for King County, Washington, is showing off the 40-acre site as an example of the county’s floodplain restoration — removing human development rather than engineering bigger and costlier fixes to the flooding that is likely to get worse as a consequence of climate change. The strategy, in other words, amounts to: Get out of nature’s way.