determine “…whether all the appropriate partners that should be involved in a national landslide hazard mitigation program (had) been identified” and to provide interim comments on the proposed partnership strategy. Other aspects of the charge will be addressed in the committee’s final report.
The report “National Landslide Hazards Mitigation Strategy—A Framework for Loss Reduction” (Spiker and Gori, 2000) presents an outline of the elements required for a national approach to the problem, with the 10-year goal of reducing the risk of loss of life, injuries, economic costs, and destruction of natural and cultural resources from landslides. The report identifies nine elements of a national landslide hazard mitigation program: (1) research to develop a predictive understanding of landslide processes; (2) hazard mapping to delineate susceptible areas; (3) real-time monitoring of active landslides; (4) loss assessment to determine economic impacts of landslide hazards; (5) information collection, interpretation, and dissemination to provide an effective system for information transfer; (6) guidelines and training for scientists, engineers, and decision makers; (7) public awareness and education; (8) implementation of loss reduction measures; and (9) emergency preparedness, response, and recovery to build resilient communities. The strategy presented by the USGS, and the review presented here, is focused on landslides—downhill earth movements ranging from rock avalanches and debris flows to more slowly-moving earth slides— but recognizing that the strategy provides a framework that could be applied to other ground failure hazards.
The partnerships referred to in the USGS strategy document (Spiker and Gori, 2000) are only described in broad outline:
Partnerships with state and local governments to assess and map landslide hazards, to be funded through competitive grants ($8 million annual allocation, requiring 30% matching funds).
Partnerships with other federal agencies (e.g., National Park Service [NPS], United States Forest Service [USFS], Bureau of Land Management [BLM]) to increase agency capabilities to address landslide hazards ($2 million for USGS participation as requested by other agencies).
Partnerships with universities, local governments, and the private sector to support research and implementation efforts ($2 million annually, distributed through competitive grants).
The committee concurs that there is a pressing need for a national program to address the deaths (estimated to be 25 to 50 people each year), injuries, property losses, ecological consequences, and economic disruption that are attributable to landslides throughout the United States (Schuster, 1996). Landslide risks are particularly noteworthy in Alaska and Hawaii, the Pacific Coast states, the Appalachian Mountain states, the Rocky Mountain states, and in the island territories of American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Landslides affect individuals through injuries or property loss; private entities that have lost property and suffered business disruption; and state and local governments that have had to rebuild roads, utility systems, and other damaged infrastructure. In addition to the effects in the immediate vicinity of landslides, there are individuals and businesses, often some distance from landslide sites, who are affected by loss of services such as power, water and/or sewer lines as a consequence of landslides. Losses attributable to landslides have been increasing as a result of rapid development within landslide-prone areas, often because of the scenic value of such sites, and because of the increased value of property at risk. Furthermore, landuse activity, such as timber harvesting and access road construction, has led to accelerated landsliding, which has had