Green Infrastructure Planning for Local Governments

Huron watershed residents enjoy the watershed’s beautiful green scenery: forested hills, stuff marshes, native plantings along roads and in rain gardens, and cheerful wildflower plantings in our cities. All of these elements are part of our green infrastructure – natural areas and features that provide a host of ecological services, from filtering stormwater runoff to providing habitat for migratory birds.

HRWC encourages green infrastructure across this spectrum, from landscape to site scale. We are working with municipalities to plan for Green Infrastructure across their jurisdictions that can then be implemented in a neighborhood or a specific site.

Fen - Ives Road -06188

We work with communities throughout the watershed to hold public workshops to discuss green infrastructure – the forests, wetlands, lakes, streams and other open areas that clean the air, filter polluted runoff, replenish drinking water supplies, provide habitat for fish and wildlife, and maintain quality of life.

GreenInfrastructureOverview

The Green Infrastructure maps show interconnected natural areas and cultural features, and HRWC provides communities with  policy and ordinance recommendations to help conserve those lands, maintaining natural ecosystems and water quality as development occurs.  HRWC is expanding on the work done in Oakland County, where their county planning department has shepherded green infrastructure plans and maps for every community in Oakland.

HubSitesLinks

 At HRWC workshops, residents and township officials study maps of the township’s natural areas, master plan designations, land use, and other natural assets, and add natural area hubs, links connecting them, and special natural features such has Heron rookeries or rare plant communities. HRWC uses the sketching to create the Green Infrastructure map and plan.

The townships  incorporate the plan into their land use plans and policies, directing future development in a way that is in concert with their natural infrastructure.

Successes

  • Lyndon Township has added ordinance language requiring setbacks and buffers from lakeshores and streams to protect water quality. They also found the map of their Green Infrastructure helpful in successfully opposing a sand mine proposal that would have fragmented a major natural area hub.
  • Unadilla Township is protecting Portage Creek and its tributaries with an overlay zone requiring setbacks and buffers.
  • Dexter Township is developing setback and buffer requirements for their lakes and creeks.
  • See a great description of the program in Sara Swanson’s article in the Manchester Mirror about our latest workshop, in Freedom Township.
  • Webster Township has adopted Green Infrastructure protections in its Master Plan
  • Northfield Township has appointed an Farmland and Natural Areas Preservation Committee to explore how the township can protect it Green Infrastructure
  • On December 10, 2016 HRWC, MSU, and Washtenaw County hosted a forum on Community Techniques for Protecting Water Quality.  Presentations included:
    • Harry Sheehan;  Washtenaw County Deputy Water Resources Commissioner.  Harry gave an overview of water quality issues in Southeast Michigan
    • Monica Day: Michigan State University Water Resources Educator. Monica talked about good governance and the importance of local governments to water quality
    • Sally Rutzky: Lyndon Township planning commissioner.  Sally shared her story of becoming a planning commissioner and using the concepts of Green Infrastructure in ensuring natural area and water quality protection in Lyndon Township.
    • Erica Perry: Webster Township planning commissioner. Erica shared Webster Township’s story of becoming a success at protecting farmland, natural areas, and water quality.
    • Barry Lonik: Treemore Ecology and Land Services. Barry described his work with local Purchase of Development Rights land protection programs with local governments.
    • Kris Olsson, HRWC. Kris talked about the importance of local land use planning to water quality and gave specific actions local governments can take to improve their ordinances and master plans for water quality and natural area protection.

The workshops result in a plan and map describing the extent and value of each community’s green infrastructure with options for development planning that is in concert with it. HRWC works with the local governments to improve local ordinances that help protect the watershed’s freshwater as future development occurs.

Green Infrastructure plans created as part of the Portage Creek Implementation Project: (funded by the MDEQ, under the Clean Water Act):

Lyndon Township's Green Infrastructure Map

Lyndon Township’s Green Infrastructure Map

Lyndon Township (PDF)

Dexter Township (PDF)

Unadilla Township(PDF)

Green Infrastructure plans created as part of the Green Infrastructure Planning for Local Governments project, funded by the Americana Foundation:

Webster Township (PDF)

Salem Township (PDF)

Northfield Township (PDF)

Freedom Township (PDF)

Recommended Policies for Local Governments to Preserve Green Infrastructure as Development Occurs:

For Master Plans

For Zoning Ordinances




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