June 13, 2023, 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. MDT

Turning Property Buyouts Into Public Assets: An Open Space Management Guide

Multiuse Open Space

Webinar Description:

Reducing community risk through Federal Emergency Management Agency-funded property acquisitions, often called buyouts, are a great first step to creating safer cities and towns. But what comes next?

Communities that don’t prepare to manage the open spaces that result from buyouts could face costly administrative and financial burdens. But those who have a vision of what they’ll do with newly acquired spaces can leverage opportunities to turn risky and blighted areas into assets such as parks, memorials, green infrastructure, and wildlife sanctuaries. The Open Space Management Guide: Building Community Capacity to Program FEMA-Funded Housing Buyout Land was created to give communities actionable guidance on how to develop and implement open space management strategies for acquired land. Using applicable land use and landscape design processes, the guide frames open space design, implementation, and maintenance within FEMA buyout rules and provides local governments with the information they need to access the funding, policy, and technical assistance to manage the open space.

The guide includes checklists, tips, diagrams, and matrices that span a range of issues and tasks associated with open space management. Throughout the document, case studies highlight issues and results that other communities have had as they navigated similar processes.

Please join this webinar as speakers discuss the approach they used to create the guide and techniques to convey key issues and tasks to be undertaken during projects.


Gavin Smith, North Carolina State University
Abigail Black, North Carolina State University

Natural Hazards Center Overview Slides
Webinar Slides


Open Space Management Guide

Continuing Education Credits:

This webinar is eligible for one contact hour of emergency management training within the International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM) certification program. For more information about continuing education credits and how to earn them, please click here.

Gavin Smith

Gavin Smith is a professor in the department of landscape architecture at North Carolina State University. His research focuses on hazard mitigation, disaster recovery, and climate change adaptation and the integration of research and practice through deep community engagement. Educational efforts include the development of a graduate certificate in disaster resilient policy, engineering, and design and helping to coordinate a university-wide effort focused on disaster resilience spanning research, teaching, and engagement-related activities. Smith is the author of Planning for Post-Disaster Recovery: A Review of the United States Disaster Assistance Framework and served as the co-editor of Adapting to Climate Chance: Lessons from Natural Hazards Planning as well as writing numerous peer reviewed journal articles, book chapters, and practice-oriented reports. Smith was a co-principal investigator on a six-year study assessing the quality of state and local hazard mitigation plans. Smith’s current research includes assessing the state of disaster resilient design education at U.S. universities, the analysis of a national survey assessing the role of states in building the capacity of local governments to implement hazard mitigation grants and a comparative assessment of hazard-prone housing acquisition programs in the United States, New Zealand, and Australia.

Abigail Black

Abigail Black is a graduate research assistant at North Carolina State University and part of the research team that created the Open Space Management Guide: Building Community Capacity to Program Federal Emergency Management Agency-Funded Housing Buyout Land. The team is currently working on a historic resilience project to bridge the gap between historic preservation and disaster mitigation professionals. Black recently graduated with her Master of Landscape Architecture degree with a disaster resilient policy, engineering, and design certificate. She looks forward to integrating disaster-resilient and ecologically sensitive design into her career at Withers-Ravenel, a multidisciplinary engineering and design firm.