Author ORCID Identifier

Date of Award

Spring 6-8-2023

Document Type

Thesis (Undergraduate)



First Advisor

Michael E. Cox

Second Advisor

Christopher Sneddon


Floods are the most damaging natural disasters in America. Land use change in upland watersheds can increase the probability and severity of floods (Bronstert, Niehoff, & Burger, 2002). When watersheds are divided by political and private property boundaries it leads to a misalignment of incentives in which downstream users lack recourse for upstream land use decisions contributing to flood risk. In this thesis, researchers interrogate the attributes of town officials and towns that determine what motivates town governments to act on flooding and what motivates and enables town officials to collaborate on planning and how do they collaborate in practice. Through structured interviews of local planning officials and analysis of planning documents of municipalities. We found that flood prevention planning is driven by state requirements for flood planning that allow flexibility in execution, salience of risk to officials, and robust regional planning bodies that encourage collaboration. We also found a self-reinforcing relationship of collaboration amongst officials amongst other findings. The sample, the Upper Valley of the Connecticut River watershed in Vermont and New Hampshire, USA, represents a diversity of rural and micropolitan land uses in an upland temperate watershed. The sample, bisected by the state boundary enables a quasi-experiment to evaluate the impact of state institutional arrangements on local resource governance. The findings of this research contribute to the literature on commons governance, flood hazard mitigation, and community based natural resource management.