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Floodplains Are Riparian Areas, Too

Riparian areas adjacent to streams may also include floodplains. NRCS policy on floodplains (GM 190 Part 410.25) reflects Executive Order (E.O.) 11988, which was signed by President Jimmy Carter on May 24, 1977. The E.O. requires that decisions by Federal agencies must recognize that floodplains have unique and significant public values. Federal agencies are instructed to consider the natural and beneficial values of floodplains and the public benefits to be derived from floodplain restoration or preservation.

The objectives of E.O. 11988 are to avoid, to the extent possible, the long and short-term adverse impacts associated with occupancy and modification of floodplains and to avoid direct and indirect support of floodplain development where there is a practical alternative.

Through proper planning, floodplains can be managed with setbacks to reduce the threat to human life, health and property in ways that are environmentally sensitive. Most floodplains contain areas with valuable assets that sustain and enhance human existence. Some of these assets are agricultural and forest food and fiber, fish and wildlife, temporary floodwater storage, parks and recreation, and environmental values.

The NRCS provides leadership, and takes actions, where practicable, to conserve, preserve and restore existing natural and beneficial functions and values in base (100 year) floodplains as part of the technical and financial assistance programs that the agency administers.

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