Issue Brief: Protecting Communities From Natural Disasters - The Safe Communities Act


Global climate change is having devastating impacts on the environment and communities, causing more frequent and severe weather events and other natural disasters. The United States continues to experience an increase in the number and intensity of hurricanes, wildfires, drought, and other disasters, causing severe damage to environmental and human health and costing millions of dollars in recovery and cleanup efforts. Landscape architects have the education, training, skills, and experience to assist communities in recovery efforts following natural or human-caused disasters, and to help make them more resilient to future events.

Background & Analysis

On September 18, 2017, Congressman Earl Blumenauer (OR) introduced the Safe Communities Act of 2017 (H.R. 3804) to protect communities from the devastating effects of natural disasters.

The bill would provide grants to states and local communities to help them plan for and mitigate the most damaging aspects of disasters such as forest fires and hurricanes. The measure seeks to help victims of tragic disaster events and help mitigate the effects of future damage to communities.

Specifically, the legislation would create a new grant program to support state, local, and regional planning activities aimed at reducing threats posed by natural and human-caused disasters. Grant-eligible projects include comprehensive risk assessment and inventory of critical infrastructure, land-use planning for natural hazards and terrorism security, and updating building codes and urban design techniques for risk reduction.

Passage of the Safe Communities Act would create a resource for communities to plan for future natural disasters, ultimately preventing damage and saving money.


Congressman Earl Blumenauer (OR) and sponsors.

Current Status

The Safe Communities Act of 2017 was sequentially referred to the House Committee on Homeland Security and the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, where the measure is awaiting further action.


Congressman Earl Blumenauer first introduced the Safe Communities Act in the 109th Congress in response to the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in many communities throughout the Southeast. The 109th Congress expired before any action was taken on the bill.


Blumenauer Introduces Legislation to Help Communities Prepare for Disasters
Blumenauer to Testify In Support of “Safe Communities Act"
Smart Policies for a Changing Climate
Congressional Climate Solutions Caucus
The Paris Agreement—United Nations Climate Change

Related ASLA Public Policies

Environmental Sustainability
Water Quality and Conservation
Vegetation in the Built Environment
Wildlife and Wildlife Habitat
Environmental Justice


Roxanne Blackwell, 
Esq., Hon. ASLA,
Director of Federal
Government Affairs

Elizabeth Hebron,
Director of State
Government Affairs