incorporate an understanding of the hazard, the range of risks, and the uncertainties associated with both need to be a central part of a national landslide strategy in order to guide appropriate decisions by public and private sectors. Risk analysis tools have value at all levels of government as well as in the private sector. Provisions should be included in a national strategy to support the development and application of appropriate risk analysis techniques for the range of landslide situations.
In most cases, land use and development decisions that affect the vast urban development occurring throughout the country are made locally, normally at city or county level. Most of the population will have the level of risk that they may be exposed to established by decisions of city councils and boards of supervisors, or their equivalents. These officials do not and cannot be expected to have a sophisticated knowledge of the risks of landslides. The strategy must therefore include the information, tools, and training that will help ensure enlightened local decisions that adequately reflect the desires of relevant stakeholders In many instances, informed local decisions can only be made when state levels of government encourage and require local actions that seek to reduce landslide risk.
Responses to landslide and other hazards are usually conditioned by the financial implications of decisions. The financing industry can determine what properties to insure if they have reliable and useable information concerning landslide hazards and risks. The insurance industry can also potentially play a critical role if the risks from landslides are known and conveyed. Both the lending and insurance industries have only been marginally involved in the landslide hazard area, but the potential for these sectors to have a more significant role in addressing landslide risks should be explored.
In order to implement a national strategy, the goals of the program need to be clearly stated and justified. They also need to be translated into specific targets against which progress can be measured. This should serve not only to measure the degree of success, as assessed by the usefulness and effectiveness of the strategy, but also would provide a basis for course corrections as needed.
The implementation plan for a national landslide hazards mitigation strategy must recognize the capabilities of ongoing programs within the federal, state, university, and local structures. A primary objective must be to develop a cohesive program from these individual distributed components, with specific assignments, funding, and scheduling. The lead federal agency must accept this responsibility unequivocally, and provide the administrative structure, guidance, and funding. Funding for each sector or unit of work can be established using existing interagency procedures to establish formalized cooperative programs between federal, state, and local entities (e.g. cooperative water resources agreements and mapping programs between the USGS and state geological surveys). A national mitigation strategy should recognize the need for an inter-agency organizational structure to ensure that the broad spectrum of needed activities is implemented effectively.