Sand dunes in Stone Harbor, N.J. (AP Photo/Wayne Parry, File) Sand dunes in Stone Harbor, N.J. (AP Photo/Wayne Parry, File)

Rep. Tom Malinowski wants the federal government support “natural infrastructure” projects, like fortifying sand dunes, that are typically only funded by local governments now.

To do that, Malinowski introduced legislation that would allow natural infrastructure projects to apply for grants from the Department of Transportation.

Natural infrastructure can occur naturally or be man-made, and is intentionally managed to benefit both the environment and people, according to the International Institute for Sustainable Development.

For example. planting trees with deep root systems or building dunes on the coastline are “natural infrastructure” projects that help manage storm water runoff. 

According to Malinowski’s office, beyond being better for the environment, natural infrastructure is often more cost effective and resilient than other materials, like cement. 

“Our homes and communities are increasingly threatened by extreme weather events ….this bill makes it possible to expand the size and scope of these natural infrastructure projects with the support of federal dollars,” said Malinowski in a statement.

The legislation has support from a bipartisan group of House members and environmental groups like the Nature Conservancy.

“As we make investments in our nation’s transportation infrastructure, it’s essential that we ensure those investments will endure in the face of increased impacts such as sea level rise, extreme rain events and coastal storms. By building infrastructure to withstand these increased impacts, we’ll be ultimately saving taxpayers money not having to rebuild failed infrastructure over and over,” Stacy McCormack, the Government Relations Manager at the Nature Conservancy said in a statement.