As part of its ongoing Green Infrastructure Initiative, and in collaboration with the Land Information Access Association and the Michigan Association of Planning, the West Michigan Strategic Alliance has created an online “tool shed” full of “tools” — specific ways communities can plan for and preserve their green infrastructure.
Green infrastructure is defined as an interconnected network of green spaces and other environmental assets, and a green infrastructure tool is a resource that informs or helps planning officials make decisions about managing the six types of environments that are the focus of the Green Infrastructure Initiative: shorelines, forests, farmland, watershed, biodiversity and green urban space.
Tools include documents, checklists, model ordinances, booklets, websites and programs. Users are encouraged to submit their own tools that they have used or developed so that best practices may be shared throughout the region.
Elaine Sterrett Isely, WMSA Green Infrastructure project manager, said there had been noticeable gaps between the ways different communities were approaching management of their green infrastructure. The information being developed was not being shared throughout the region, she added.
The Internet address for the tool shed is www.greentoolshed.org, and the categories there are headed: Implement Watershed Management and Planning; Integrate Green Infrastructure into Urban Redevelopment and Real Estate Transactions; Promote a Regional Trails and Greenways Network; Promote Regional Farmland Preservation; Protect Critical Areas of Biodiversity; and Protect Shoreline and Dune Ecosystems.
“The tool shed provides examples of what has worked, challenges faced, sample documents and templates, and general information about the preservation of environmental assets,” said Isely. “The site will help local and regional decision-makers as well as the general public to preserve, protect and manage our valued outdoor features in West Michigan.”
The Green Infrastructure Initiative was launched several years ago by the WMSI, the offshoot of a Green Infrastructure taskforce.
The West Michigan Strategic Alliance convened more than 40 organizations to form a Green Infrastructure Leadership Council to take action and work in various ways to identify and protect the green infrastructure in West Michigan. More information about green infrastructure and related efforts in West Michigan are on the Alliance’s website at www.wm-alliance.org
Isley was named project manager of the Green Infrastructure organization in West Michigan in June, after having been a member of the Leadership Council since 2006. She holds degrees in finance, law and biology, and has more than 15 years of experience in law, environmental policy, research, outreach and public speaking.
Her most recent career experience was with the GVSU Annis Water Resources Institute in Muskegon, but she also has worked with the Great Lake s Commission, the Wayne County Department of Environmental Quality and other community organizations.
The Land Information Access Association is based in Traverse City and has the goal of providing technical, scientific, educational and informational services to individual citizens, local interest groups, local governments and other nonprofit corporations for land use planning, resource management, emergency management planning and environmental protection.