HRWC encourages green infrastructure 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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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 workshop in Freedom Township.
- Webster Township has adopted Green Infrastructure protections in its Master Plan
- Webster has also taken on administration of the Huron and Arms Creek Natural River District, which provides protections to the river and creek and ensuring development does not encroach upon riparian areas.
- Northfield Township has appointed a Farmland and Natural Areas Preservation Committee to explore how the township can protect its Green Infrastructure
- Salem Township has included a Land Preservation Chapter in its Master Plan, which is unique to the watershed and perhaps to state. Their master plan has many elements that protect natural areas and water quality.
- Pittsfield Township used HRWC’s GI planning procedure to create their own natural areas map in their Master Plan
- 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 (PDF)
Dexter Township (PDF)
Green Infrastructure plans created as part of the Green Infrastructure Planning for Local Governments project, funded by the Healthy Watersheds Consortium and the Americana Foundation:
Northfield Township (PDF)
Putnam Township (PDF)
Salem Township (PDF)
Webster Township (PDF)
Recommended Policies for Local Governments to Preserve Green Infrastructure as Development Occurs:
These worksheets are in HRWC’s Land Use for a Healthy Watershed Guidebook for citizens who want to urge their local governments to protect water quality and natural areas