The Great Lakes Natural and Nature-Based Features Playbook

Recent high lake levels have exposed the widespread vulnerability of the Great Lakes coastline. Increasingly frequent flooding and erosion cause property damage, endanger lives, and disrupt local economies. Natural and nature-based features (NNBF) are measures and techniques that can be incorporated into shoreline protection to reduce flood risk and improve the resilience of coastal and inland water systems. The current understanding of coastal NNBF focuses on ocean coastlines resulting in a lack of confidence in the applicability and cost-benefit of these measures for the Great Lakes.

Lake Superior shoreline.

There are 4,530 miles of US coastline for the five Great Lakes, more than double the coastline along the US Atlantic Ocean, and more than three times the coastline on the US West Coast, further underlining the need for Great Lakes specific NNBF guidance. NNBF also support the concept of multiple lines of defense (MLD), whereby multiple strategies are used to erect a system of comprehensive, resilient, and sustainable coastal risk solutions.

The objective of this project is to develop a Great Lakes specific guide (“playbook”) to NNBF and MLD to improve future coastal resiliency. The guide will significantly advance the understanding of NNBF and MLD emerging technologies as applied to the entire Great Lakes region. The guide will provide additional needed confidence to federal, state, and local government agencies to plan, design, and implement sustainable, adaptable and cost-effective NNBF measures, either instead of, or in addition to, traditional structural and non-structural flood risk management (FRM) practices. Project Fact Sheet

Contribute to the Playbook

Survey123 Link

Follow the link to share existing or ongoing efforts in the Great Lakes region. Results will be added to EWN ProMap.


Kick-Off: Developing the Great Lakes NNBF Playbook

24-25 January 2023. The Engineering With Nature (EWN) initiative held a workshop in Chicago, Illinois to begin development of the NNBF Great Lakes Playbook.

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