Lisa Crowley with American Rivers
Last summer, Lisa completed a fellowship with the non-profit organization, American Rivers. American Rivers’ mission is to protect wild rivers, restore damaged rivers and conserve clean water for people and nature. This mission is closely tied to the necessary integration of diversity, equity, and inclusion in all American Rivers’ projects.
Lisa’s practicum consisted of developing a method for prioritizing equitable investment in multi-benefit floodplain projects in the Central Valley by examining the intersection of flood risk and social vulnerability and make policy recommendations to help advance projects in high risk, highly vulnerable areas.
This method helped American Rivers identify underserved and socially vulnerable communities located in the Central Valley of California, where some of the highest flood risk in the state and country have been identified by various entities like the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). These communities are at a considerably higher risk due to the interwoven effects of systemic racism in historical California water priorities and planning. This prolonged and detrimental history requires California to make a larger and more intentional effort to find equitable solutions that address the effects of the ongoing climate crisis on underserved communities. Identifying these “hot spot” communities was the first step in helping American Rivers develop a more robust program that prioritizes equitable investment in multi-benefit floodplain projects for highly socially disadvantaged communities.