Future Natural Floodplain Functions Alliance (NFFA) Webinars Schedule

The Natural Floodplain Functions Alliance (NFFA) is an affiliation of nonprofit and private organizations, government agencies and individuals dedicated to the protection and preservation of the natural functions of floodplains, including coastal areas. For a copy of the Natural Floodplain Functions Alliance mission statement, goals and objectives click here.

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Reducing Flood Risk and Restoring Ecosystems through Science and Planning   

Tuesday, June 4, 2019 - 3:00 p.m. Eastern, 2:00 p.m. Central, 1:00 p.m. Mountain, 12:00 p.m. Pacific, 11:00 a.m. Alaska, and 9:00 a.m. Hawaii time.


  • Kris Johnson, Associate Director for Science & Planning, North America Agriculture Program, The Nature Conservancy
  • Christine Shepard, PhD, Director of Science, Gulf of Mexico Program, The Nature Conservancy
  • Lily Verdone, Director of Freshwater and Marine, The Nature Conservancy


Kris Johnson, PhD
A majority of the floodplains in the Mississippi River Basin have been converted from natural ecosystems to agriculture or development and are hydrologically disconnected and degraded. Protecting and restoring floodplains is critical to reducing flood impacts to people and property, improving water quality, enhancing wildlife habitat and providing other valuable benefits. Although more funding and capacity are needed to increase the scale and pace of restoration, floodplain management decisions can be informed by a new online tool developed by The Nature Conservancy to help prioritize important areas for floodplain conservation and restoration projects.

Christine Shepard and Lily Verdone
Strategic Property Buyouts to Enhance Flood Resilience: Creating a Model for Flood Risk Reduction, Community Protection, and Environmental Gains

Using post-Hurricane Harvey damage assessments for Harris County, Texas, we created a strategic approach to voluntary property buyouts that prioritizes clustering buyout properties considering their proximity to open spaces as well as additional environmental and social benefits. Our results show that prioritizing buyouts is cost effective and creates green spaces that add multiple values. This study provides a roadmap for buyout selection that can enhance open space, reduce flood risk, and create more natural amenities for residents to enjoy. In Houston and across coastal and flood-impacted regions nationwide, it can help leaders develop strategic buyout programs that create safer, more resilient communities.


Kris Johnson, The Nature ConservancyKris Johnson is the Associate Director for Science & Planning for the North America Agriculture Program of The Nature Conservancy. In this role he leads efforts to integrate science into collaborations with public and private partners to catalyze conservation and improved agricultural management across North America. Prior to joining The Nature Conservancy, Kris was the Sustainability Scientist at the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment. He received a bachelor’s degree from Bowdoin College and an MS and PhD in Conservation Biology from the University of Minnesota, where his dissertation research focused on ecosystem services in agriculture. Kris was a Fulbright Scholar, a MacArthur Scholar, and remains a Senior Fellow in Sustainable Agricultural Systems at the University of Minnesota.

Christine Shepard, Ph.D., The Nature ConservancyChristine Shepard, Ph.D., is the Director of Science for the Nature Conservancy’s Gulf of Mexico program. Christine’s primary research focuses on assessing coastal hazards risk, quantifying the role coastal habitats play in reducing risk, and identifying where ecosystem-based approaches such as conservation or restoration are likely to be effective for risk reduction. In addition, Christine works to develop innovative spatial analyses and community engagement tools to help decision makers address coastal risks from climate change and coastal hazards like storms and sea-level rise. She co-authored the 2012 World Risk Report in partnership with United Nations University and was a member of the Department of Interior’s Strategic Science Working Group "Operational Group Sandy" deployed to assist the Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force.

Lily Verdone, The Nature ConservancyLily Verdone joined The Nature Conservancy in 2010 to work on mission-driven projects with talented colleagues. Over the years, Lily has provided leadership on projects ranging from large-scale river restoration to state-wide strategic planning on coastal development; as well as, partnered with military, government agencies, corporations, NGOs, water districts and farmers to develop and implement strategies that achieve multi-benefit conservation outcomes. In her current role as Director of Freshwater and Marine for The Nature Conservancy in Texas, Lily is leading a multi-disciplinary team of marine, coastal and freshwater professionals to produce cutting-edge science and work with partners to integrate this science into on-the-ground actions and policy. Lily has two decades of experience as a soup-to-nuts conservation biologist addressing climate adaptation and urban conservation issues in California, Mexico and the South West. She attended Sonoma State University where she obtained a B.A. in Environmental Studies and Planning and an M.S. in Biology.

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