As snowmelt continues, increasing the risk of landslides throughout Washington state, Rep. Suzan DelBene says more could be done to protect people from disaster. 

Rep. DelBene and Sen. Maria Cantwell introduced legislation in the House and Senate that would help communities prepare for and respond to landslides, along with other natural hazards. 

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DelBene says she vividly remembers the landslide near Oso in 2014 that killed 43 people and destroyed a close-knit community. It was a tragedy that highlights the need to further research to understand and prepare for landslides. 

“I remember vividly the horrors of that tragic scene near Oso which took 43 precious lives and left countless families and a community shattered,” DelBene said. “This legislation is born out of that experience and would help our region and others around the country be better prepared for the possibility of a landslide. With a commitment to using state-of-the-art technology to target vulnerable terrain, we can take important steps toward saving lives all across the country.” 

The National Landslide Preparedness Act would target gaps in current science and mapping to better understand landslide hazards and risks. It would also establish the National Landslide Hazards Reduction Program through the USGS to further identify risks, protect communities, and improve emergency preparedness. 

It would also direct the USGS to implement a 3D elevation program to update and coordinate the collection of elevation data across the country by using high-resolution data. That data has been collected for about a quarter of the country so far, according to DelBene's office. Some of the data is also decades old.

“In the Pacific Northwest, we are acutely aware of the dangers posed by landslides, but our disaster preparedness efforts are only as good as the science and mapping that informs them,” said Congressmember Denny Heck. “I am proud to support this bill, championed by my fellow Washingtonians, to improve our understanding of landslide science so that our communities can make smart investments that protect property and save lives.”