Newly adopted policy framework integrates “green” with “gray”

When we think of infrastructure, the first things that come to mind are often made of concrete, metal, or bricks and mortar: roads and bridges, utility systems, buildings and parking lots. But healthy development also includes “green” infrastructure.

Green infrastructure uses natural elements — such as trees, rain gardens, native landscaping, parks, bioswales and stream buffers — to manage stormwater, provide habitat for wildlife and reduce heat island effects. Green infrastructure is more than an amenity; it’s an important part of how and where we grow.  Incorporating green infrastructure elements in commercial, residential and natural settings helps keep our air and water clean; improves access to quality jobs, green spaces and healthy foods; and enhances our climate resilience.

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In June, the MARC Board of Directors adopted a Regional Green Infrastructure Policy Framework that explores how we can best incorporate ecological processes into the heart of the region’s cultural and economic fabric.

The policy framework, developed with extensive community and stakeholder input, focuses on three key priorities:

  1. Developing a package of model, local green infrastructure-friendly ordinances.
  2. Updating local stormwater management planning guidelines and engineering standards.
  3. Integrating conservation and transportation at the plan, program and project levels

This report is the culmination of three years of planning that includes a Phase I Green Infrastructure Framework and atlas, as well as a Green Infrastructure Playbook with site-level recommendations. All of these documents are available online at www.marc.org/greeninfrastructure.

Implementing the strategies and recommendations outlined in the Green Infrastructure Framework will require cross-sector collaboration among regional, local and nonprofit partners. In the coming months, MARC will continue to partner with cities, counties, federal and state agencies, schools, civic organizations, nonprofit associations and others to advance this work. For more information contact Tom Jacobs, tjacobs@marc.org.