Understanding & Managing Floodplains for Healthy Watersheds and Resilient Communities
Publications: Success Stories - Extension (2023)

NYSG workshop attendees learn about healthy watershed management on a localized gameboard. Credit: Mary Austerman / NYSG; Inset: How participants described the workshop experience.


Mary Austerman, NYSG Great Lakes Coastal Community Specialist, E: mp357@cornell.edu, P: (315) 331-8415

NYSG’s healthy floodplains workshops empower localized watershed decision makers to reduce risks and improve water quality

Newark, NY, March 23, 2023 - Sustainably managed floodplains provide flood risk reduction benefits by slowing runoff and storing flood water.

In 2022, to help local government and Tribal leaders, New York Sea Grant (NYSG) held day-long workshops to improve participants’ knowledge about floodplains, related risks, and ways to maintain and enhance the health of the Great Lakes by sustainably protecting and managing watersheds. The workshops were locally customized to attract planning, zoning and municipal board members, supervisors, mayors, code enforcement officers, conservation advisory boards, and floodplain managers.

Workshops were held in Dunkirk for the Western NY region, in Waterloo for the centralized Lake Ontario region, and in Altmar for the Eastern NY region. A total of 120 people representing 48 different municipalities and 10 counties attended the workshops, with 76% of the group from the target audiences. Workshop presenters engaged participants through classroom training, small group discussions with topical experts, networking with experts and peers, and interactive game play that demonstrated the application of watershed management concepts and resources learned during the workshop. Workshop evaluations indicated that 100 percent of participants gained knowledge of watersheds and the tools and resources that communities can implement to improve floodplains. A participant at the Dunkirk training said, “The resources and tools were practical and will be useful references. The watershed game was great; it was fun to learn through playing. Smart use of interactive methods for learning.”

As a result of this NYSG healthy floodplains training, participants from throughout New York’s multi-county Great Lakes watershed are now empowered with knowledge, the workshop experience, and networking connections to make better-informed decisions regarding maintaining and enhancing healthy floodplains to reduce flooding risk and improve water quality.


• Central New York Regional Planning & Development Board (CNYRPDB) 
• Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy (CWC) 
• Finger Lakes Lake Ontario Watershed Protection Alliance 
• Genesee/Finger Lakes Regional Planning Council 
• Lake Erie Watershed Protection Alliance 
• New York State Department of Environmental Conservation 
• New York State Department of State 
• Tug Hill Commission


• Federal Emergency Management Agency Cooperating Technical Partners Program 
• National Sea Grant Office Visioning Funding 
• Chautauqua Lake Watershed Management Alliance 

Support by: 

• CWC 
• New York State Environmental Protection Fund under authority of the New York Ocean and Great Lakes Ecosystem Conservation Act

More Info: New York Sea Grant

New York Sea Grant (NYSG), a cooperative program of Cornell University and the State University of New York (SUNY), is one of 34 university-based programs under the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Sea Grant College Program.

Since 1971, NYSG has represented a statewide network of integrated research, education and extension services promoting coastal community economic vitality, environmental sustainability and citizen awareness and understanding about the State’s marine and Great Lakes resources.

Through NYSG’s efforts, the combined talents of university scientists and extension specialists help develop and transfer science-based information to many coastal user groups—businesses and industries, federal, state and local government decision-makers and agency managers, educators, the media and the interested public.

The program maintains Great Lakes offices at Cornell University, SUNY Buffalo, SUNY Oswego and the Wayne County Cooperative Extension office in Newark. In the State's marine waters, NYSG has offices at Stony Brook University in Long Island, Brooklyn College and Cornell Cooperative Extension in NYC and Kingston in the Hudson Valley.

For updates on Sea Grant activities: www.nyseagrant.org has RSS, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube links. NYSG offers a free e-list sign up via www.nyseagrant.org/nycoastlines for its flagship publication, NY Coastlines/Currents, which is published quarterly.

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