A group tries to move a car from flooding after heavy rains in Washington's Snoqualmie Valley, January 2015. Photo by The Nature Conservancy.
Wildfire burns in the Sinlahekin Wildlife Area near Blue Lake during 2015 Okanogan Complex Fire. Photo by John Marshall.
A rain garden in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle, using natural infrastructure to filter stormwater runoff from the Aurora Bridge. Photo by Hannah Letinich.

For climate resilience, look to nature’s solutions

We're shoring up coasts and greening cities to curb climate impacts

Each summer, while wildfires rage across the West and record-breaking storms bear down on coasts, it is easy to feel helpless. Climate change is creating fierce natural disasters. But nature, in turn, holds many solutions. In fact, new science shows that natural climate solutions can deliver up to 37 percent of the emission reductions needed by 2030.

In Washington, we are pioneering game-changing approaches to help nature and people be more resilient to climate change. We’re putting these solutions into practice alongside farmers and ranchers, tribal members, diverse urban communities, local governments, business leaders and citizen activists — across the lands and waters of Washington state.

Healthy wetlands reduce flooding and protect habitat

As our climate changes, we are seeing more water in our rivers at unpredictable times, leading to flooding of homes and billions of dollars in damage to businesses and public infrastructure. Washington state was the pioneer of a new approach to our rivers through the creation of the Floodplains by Design program, a new look at how we think about water.

Thinning trees can help save our forests

Decades of fire suppression and a changing climate have left Washington’s forests densely packed and susceptible to high-risk fires. In recent years, forest fires have burned with uncharacteristic severity and duration, posing grave threats to communities, fish and wildlife. Our scientists studied methods for thinning and restoring Washington’s forests to health, and their findings recently informed the Washington Department of Natural Resources’ 20-year strategic plan.

Shoring up our coasts also creates jobs

The Washington Coast remains one of our most pristine landscapes, central to livelihoods, cultures and wildlife.  But in the face of a changing climate, these natural assets could easily be lost. With our partners in the Washington Coastal Restoration Initative, we developed a program to not only restore the health of coastal waters, but also put people to work in historically underemployed areas.

Green in our cities is cleaning our cities

In Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood, we’re supporting multi-sector partners in capturing 2 million gallons of stormwater runoff from the Aurora Bridge through swales and rain garden landscaping. It’s a natural solution for filtering some of our region’s dirtiest water — and ensuring it doesn’t flow into Lake Union, negatively impacting the migrating salmon heading to North Lake Washington and Sammamish watersheds.