Press Releases

DelBene, Schrier, Gluesenkamp Perez Introduce Bill to Extend Landslide Protections


Today, Congresswomen Suzan DelBene (WA-01), Kim Schrier, MD (WA-08), and Marie Gluesenkamp Perez (WA-03) introduced legislation that will help save lives, protect communities and property, and improve natural disaster emergency preparedness.

The National Landslide Preparedness Act Reauthorization Act (H.R. 7003) would reauthorize the National Landslide Preparedness Act through 2028. Since 2021, the law has helped address key gaps in science and mapping critical to understanding landslide hazards. This information helps communities plan for and respond to natural hazards, update the nation’s topographical maps, and inform public safety, national security, planning, infrastructure, transportation, agriculture, and natural resource management.

“We must recognize that every state faces some level of landslide risk and remain committed to proactively addressing the increasing rate of these hazards,” said DelBene. “This legislation ensures the critical research that is already providing the information and resources necessary to help communities prepare for and mitigate the fatal impacts of landslides can continue uninterrupted.”

“Nearly ten years ago, our community felt the devastating impact of landslides firsthand as the SR 530 Landslide claimed 43 lives, making it the deadliest in U.S. history,” said Schrier. “This bill will make crucial investments to further our understanding of landslides, improve our preparation for these natural disasters, and ultimately safeguard our communities. This is even more important as increasing wildfire west of the Cascades raises the risk of landslides.”

“Landslides are dangerous, damage our infrastructure, and can cut off access for emergency services. Southwest Washington experienced several landslides this past year, including ones that impacted Interstate 5, Amtrak operations, and access to Mount St. Helens. This summer, I visited the site of the SR 504 debris slide to meet with affected small business owners and see cleanup efforts firsthand – and these disasters impact entire communities and take all hands on deck to overcome,” said Gluesenkamp Perez. “This bipartisan legislation will help our communities stay prepared and identify landslide-prone areas before it’s too late, which is an essential part of keeping folks safe.”

The bill would reauthorize key pieces of the National Landslide Preparedness Act set to expire this year:

  • Expanded early warning systems. The law expanded existing early warning systems for post-wildfire landslides in recently burned areas across the United States. It also required procedures to be developed for federal monitoring of stormwater drainage in areas with a high risk of landslides, in coordination with state, local, and tribal governments.
  • Federal program focused specifically on landslide hazards. The law established a National Landslides Hazard Reduction program through the U.S. Geological Survey, which is identifying risks and hazards from landslides to protect at-risk communities and improve communication and emergency preparedness.
  • New maps to help communities prepare for landslide risk. The law directed the USGS to implement a 3D Elevation Program to increase data collection and landslide threat identification across the country. Enhanced elevation data, such as LIDAR, is critical for numerous reasons—to help communities plan for and respond to natural hazards; to update the nation’s topographical maps; and to inform a myriad of uses including public safety, national security, planning, infrastructure, transportation, agriculture, and natural resource management.
  • Landslide-related grant programs. The law authorized new programs to provide funding to state, territorial, local, and tribal governments for landslide research, mapping, assessment, and data collection.
  • Committees that better deal with landslide risks. The law established an advisory committee on landslides and creates an interagency committee to coordinate better landslide responses from the multiple government agencies with jurisdiction.

The bill is cosponsored by Representatives Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01), Matt Cartwright (PA-08), Derek Kilmer (WA-06), Rick Larsen (WA-02), Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05), Dan Newhouse (WA-04), Adam Smith (WA-09), and Marilyn Strickland (WA-10).

“It is absolutely critical to reauthorize the National Landslide Preparedness Act now to continue the vital work to safeguard our vulnerable communities from devastating and often lethal landslides. I know first-hand the monumental impacts our community was challenged with during the 2014 Oso landslide,” said Darrington Mayor Dan Rankin. “In just over two minutes, we lost 43 of our family, friends, and neighbors. We lost our main highway for over six months. We lost the ability to communicate beyond the slide via phone or internet for more than 72 hours. Medical services were severely impacted, and prescription services and transactions were also not available. This is just the tip of the iceberg of the immediate impacts of this one event. The reauthorization that Representative DelBene has brought forward may not prevent another Oso slide but it gives communities like Darrington data that we can need to make important decisions about land use in hazard areas, training for our emergency services, and redundancy in infrastructure so precious time is not lost in a time of need. We have made great strides to protect and inform our communities across the country but there is still work to be done especially at this time when climate-born chaos seems to be an everyday occurrence.”

“We sincerely appreciate Congresswoman DelBene’s leadership on this important issue,” said Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers. “In the aftermath of the tragic SR-530 slide near Oso, her efforts led to a much greater understanding not only of Snohomish County’s landslide risks but also provided resources for communities throughout the country to better understand their risk.”

“This year will mark a decade since the Oso landslide claimed 43 precious lives, uprooted many more families, shattered a community and woke us up to the dangers landslides present where we live, work, and play. We don’t ever want that to happen again,” said Hilary Franz, Washington State’s Commissioner of Public Lands and leader of the Washington State Department of Natural Resources. “The best way to prevent this is with more monitoring, more research and more lidar, which lets our geologists look at the ground beneath our vegetation to see where landslides are likely. We’ve made great strides in the 10 years since Oso to identify, map and understand the risks landslides pose for Washington communities, but there’s so much more we need to do. I’m thankful for Representative DelBene’s determination to introduce this legislation that will help us do just that.”

The tragic 2014 landslide near Oso, Washington claimed 43 lives, and severely damaged public infrastructure and private property, highlighting the urgent need to better understand and prepare for landslide hazards.

Last October, the U.S. Geological Survey released a new national landslide strategy, a core element of the DelBene law.

The bill is endorsed by the National Society of Professional Surveyors and the U.S. Geospatial Executives Organization.

The full text of the legislation can be found here.