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Integrating Risk Resilience in Municipal Planning

Climate change is reshaping weather patterns and increasing extreme weather events, posing both subtle and stark risks to the people, livelihoods, and nature of Madison County, Idaho.

Madison is a small rural county in southeastern Idaho’s Upper Snake River Valley.  It boasts ecologically rich wildlands and waters, and nearly half of its 472 square miles is farmland or rangeland. 


Like other parts of the state, Madison is feeling the pressure of a surging population. County leaders are reconciling how to balance the demand for increased growth and development with the preservation of their open spaces and agricultural lands.

Idaho’s population growth rate has led the U.S. for decades.


Madison County is home to Brigham Young University-Idaho,

Madison's climate will likely change substantially, with unpredictable precipitation patterns, heightened warming, and decreased snowpack. Extreme weather events, including floods, droughts, and fires, will also increase in frequency, scale, and severity. These projected trends could lead to billion-dollar disasters, with devastating economic and environmental impacts.

Madison has already experienced billion-dollar disaster losses with the 1976 collapse of the Teton Dam, one of the worst dam failures in U.S. history. 

Completed in 1975, the Teton Dam was meant to control spring runoff and provide supplemental irrigation to the County’s farmlands. Less than a year later, the dam collapsed, sending a wall of water surging through the Teton River Canyon. Two million cubic feet of water per second poured from the breach, emptying the 305-foot impoundment in less than six hours. In some places, water reached 30 feet high. Eleven people and 20,000 head of livestock lost their lives. Thousands of homes and businesses were destroyed, three hydropower plants were ruined, and six communities were devastated. The total damages exceeded $2 billion. The failure also triggered significant landslides, which along with the water, took an incalculable toll on the native fish and wildlife and the downstream ecology and habitats of the Teton and Snake Rivers.​


Teton Dam ruins. Experts fear the likelihood of dam failures will increase as extreme precipitation events become more frequent.

Economic losses from natural disasters have been increasing in recent decades, largely due to a combination of population growth and development. With climate change expected to increase the frequency and severity of extreme weather events, it's imperative for decision-makers to have reliable information about both local risks and effective risk mitigation measures and policies.

Adapting to Madison’s changing climate requires adaptation approaches that reduce risks to its residents and communities, improves adaptation, and increases resilience.

Beginning in 2018, we partnered with community leaders to embed climate priorities into their county-level strategic planning, land use planning, processes, and policies. Over 18 months, we facilitated cross-government climate action planning that integrated multiple local priorities, including economic development, public health, housing, zoning, and hazard mitigation. By using these intersecting priorities and coordinating with multiple public agencies and private sector actors, we sought to magnify adaptation impact and generate positive outcomes for broader groups of stakeholders. The outputs of this work included a comprehensive Climate Adaptation Plan and a set of recommendations for integrating climate risks and advancing adaptation interventions in the County's Comprehensive Plan revision.                  

Madison County strives to promote resilience, protect its unique natural landscape, and ensure the continued safety and well-being of its community members.

2024 Comprehensive Plan draft

A Closer Look.

Resilient Madison County

A 2020 Report for Planning, Preparedness, Education, and Action

March 2020

Resilience Integration for Madison County

2020 Comprehensive Plan Update

March 2020


The project was made possible through funding to MFPP from the FEMA Region 10 Cooperating Technical Partners Program. CTP leverages partnerships to strengthen the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and supports FEMA’s mitigation priorities. Through these partnerships, the program delivers high-quality hazard identification and risk assessment products, provides outreach support, and empowers communities to reduce risk based on informed multi-hazard-based data and resources. 

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