Natural Hazaed Mitigation Planning for Karst Terrains in Virginia

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Virginia Tech

Amendments to the Robert T. Stafford Act require state and local governments to adopt natural hazard mitigation plans to qualify for pre- and post-disaster federal hazard mitigation funding. State and local governments must consider all potential hazards within their jurisdictions including flooding, hurricanes, blizzards, and earthquakes. In western Virginia, local governments should plan for karst terrain natural hazards.

Karst terrain hazards include sinkhole subsidence, sinkhole flooding, and groundwater contamination. Despite an extensive amount of karst terrain in many communities in western Virginia, few communities use comprehensive land use planning and management approaches for development on karst terrain. A survey of local governments in the karst belt of Virginia illustrates that few communities have gone farther than a brief reference to karst terrain in their comprehensive plans. The majority of local governments in the karst belt of Virginia have not developed comprehensive land use planning approaches for karst terrain despite the availability of a large number of potential planning options pioneered by other karst communities.

This paper proposes a process for karst terrain natural hazard mitigation planning in Virginia. The process begins with community education and partnership building to build community understanding and support for the various mitigation strategies applicable to local karst terrain hazard areas. Effective natural hazard assessment allows for the relatively precise targeting of regulatory and non-regulatory mitigation strategies to minimize the impact of land use restrictions on the general community, while maximizing the hazard mitigation efficacy of the chosen strategies.

natural hazard mitigation planning, natural hazards, land use planning, karst