Friday, September 13, 2013

New Community Planning Resource Guide Available

Citizens or communities across Virginia will be better able to map their most significant natural resources and to prepare plans to conserve or restore them thanks to a new guidebook prepared by the Green Infrastructure Center (GIC) in Charlottesville.

“Evaluating and Conserving Green Infrastructure Across the Landscape: A Practitioner’s Guide” is a 132-page spiral-bound guide that presents a way to think about and catalogue a community’s natural assets as well as to prioritize them for long-term stewardship. The guide is based on six years of field testing from the Eastern Shore and coastal plain to the Piedmont and Shenandoah Valley. It sells for $29.95.
Green infrastructure includes all the interconnected natural systems in a landscape. These include intact forests, woodlands, wetlands, parks, rivers, and soils that help provide clean water, clean air, wildlife habitat and food.

“This is not a guide about how to stop development or limit population growth,” said GIC Director Karen Firehock. “It describes the steps a community can take to determine what is important and develop a rationale for what to protect. The guide helps planners, land trusts and community groups determine where their most significant natural assets, such as large intact forest blocks, are located. They can also determine which of these assets are the most important for achieving key functions, such as protecting clean water, supporting wildlife or providing outdoor recreation.

“If we don’t know where our best watershed areas are or where our best quality agricultural soils are located, this vital information isn’t included in the comprehensive plans, master plans or zoning laws that guide development,” Firehock said. “Once such natural resources are removed from the community, they are most often lost forever.”

The guide provides the steps for determining how to facilitate development in ways that reduce its impact on the landscape. It also provides the steps to use cost-free state models to develop maps that can inform planners, builders, community groups or agencies in making the best decisions on how and where to develop and what to conserve.

“While most people would prefer to make land-use decisions that restore rather than deplete our environment, land planners and decision-makers may still overlook natural resources,” Firehock said. “But, just as we plan for our gray infrastructure – roads, bridges, power lines, pipelines, sewer systems and so on – we should also plan to conserve landscapes and natural resources as our green infrastructure.”

To order a copy of the guidebook, send a check for $29.95 made payable to the Green Infrastructure Center, to P.O. Box 317, Charlottesville, VA, 22902 or visit . The guidebook was funded by the Virginia Department of Forestry, the US Forest Service’s Southern Region and the Blue Moon Fund.

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