Warming winter and spring temperatures are changing precipitation patterns and causing earlier and more rapid snowmelt. These factors, combined with projected increases in spring precipitation, are heightening the risk of flooding on land adjacent to large and small watercourses. Addressing flood risk on agricultural land requires both farm-level and landscape level planning and mitigation approaches.

This project explored opportunities for local and provincial governments to support and collaborate with the agricultural community on floodplain management. The project team engaged with agricultural producers in the Kootenays and Boundary, along with regional governments, to learn about current practices relating to riparian rehabilitation and floodplain management, barriers to action, and current initiatives in each region. The analysis identified common challenges faced by producers farming on a floodplain, along with actions that producers can take to minimize flood risk and mitigate damages, while supporting floodplain function.

Barriers to action included:

  • Overwhelming amount of available information on riparian restoration practices.
  • Lack of funding support for project planning, construction and maintenance.
  • Lack of flexibility in project implementation to adjust for delays in regulatory approvals.
  • Difficulty securing funding and accessing necessary expertise to plan and deliver projects.

Project recommendations included:

  • Increase producer access to information on beneficial practices for riparian enhancement in floodplains through a web portal.
  • Strengthen guidance for riparian buffer protection and restoration in official community plans and bylaws.
  • Develop consistent guidelines for riparian buffer protection across the Kootenay and Boundary Regions (or province).
  • Provide leadership in identifying river/creek reaches where riparian restoration or/or encouraging natural flooding is a priority.
  • Provide consistent support for initiating and sustaining collaborative riparian projects on larger river reaches.
  • Use a personal approach to initiate agricultural producer interest in projects in high priority areas.
  • Connect producers with potential project collaborators.
  • Enhancing Riparian – Investment in Green Infrastructure through conversion feed model and establishing conservation lands for extreme flood impacted floodplain.
  • Encourage the Province to explore potential to adjust lot lines through land swaps.
  • Encourage the Province to update lot line mapping to reflect current watercourse channels.

Resources & Downloads:

Webinar – Linking Farmland to Floodplains – 2022

Research Report – Linking Farmland to Floodplains – 2022

Research Summary – Linking Farmland to Floodplains – 2022