Parks with Purpose: Community Driven Green Infrastructure

Through their Parks with Purpose program, The Conservation Fund and partner organizations are designing and implementing green infrastructure in underserved urban communities while engaging and training residents to make way for lasting change.

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Green Infrastructure to Decrease Stormwater Flooding, Enhance Water Quality and Promote Equity

To further combat the impacts of CSOs, stormwater runoff, and pollution in urban watersheds, local organizations and businesses formed the RI Green Infrastructure Coalition (GIC) in 2014. The Coalition is made up of nearly 40 local businesses, non-profits, and government offices in the Providence-Metro and Newport-Aquidneck Island areas. They are forming partnerships and using green infrastructure to decrease stormwater flooding, address climate change impacts, enhance water quality, and promote equity in urban watersheds.

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Plaster Creek Stewards

| Grand Rapids, MI

The Plaster Creek Stewards initiative began at Calvin College in 2009 to provide experiential education and a working lab for students. Through several Michigan Department of Environmental Quality grants, EPA Urban Waters grants, support from the Urban Waters community, and … Continued

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Atlanta Watershed Learning Network: Educating and Empowering Communities to Advocate for Equity and Environmental Protections

Environmental Community Action, Inc (ECO-Action) – a grassroots organization that works with people to fight for their rights to clean air, land, and water – acts as a support system to the communities they serve by providing resources and creating partnerships with other organizations. They have developed many programs designed for educating and empowering the Proctor and Intrenchment Creek watershed communities to advocate for equity and environmental protections. Among their initiatives, ECO-Action is heavily involved in community education and advocacy towards the implementation of green infrastructure projects that address stormwater flooding issues and provide more livable neighborhoods for underserved communities.

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Proctor Creek Watershed: Green Infrastructure That Benefits Community & Environment

In 2013, the Proctor Creek Watershed was designated by the EPA as an Urban Waters Federal Partnership location, with goals to engage the community while improving water quality, providing green spaces, and supporting green infrastructure. The Conservation Fund was awarded an EPA Urban Waters Small Grant in 2016 to work with residents and multiple organizations of the Proctor Creek Watershed to create green infrastructure solutions that benefit the community and the environment.

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Urban Nature for Human Health and Well Being

This report provides the latest research on the social, health, and economic benefits of urban green space, with an emphasis on tree canopies. Research shows that more trees and green space in urban areas directly reduce pollution, reduce heat, encourage exercise and related health, lower stress, and improve longevity among residents.

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RiverXchange: New Mexico Students Connect Globally as They Learn about the Rio Grande Watershed

RiverXchange—a school-based program that supports and supplements Common Core and 21st Century Standards—is designed to introduce water resources concepts to young people using a variety of fun methods that integrate writing, math, science, and physical activity. By interacting with models, reading relevant texts, learning from experts, and going on field trips, students learn about watersheds, river ecosystems, and the importance of water conservation. They also learn how to monitor water quality and calculate their own ecological footprints, then internalize these concepts by writing about them in their own words.

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Sustainable Models for GI Maintenance

This report on Sustainable Models for Green Infrastructure Maintenance in the Great Lakes Region summarizes the findings of a 2016 convening in Buffalo, NY of local government, land bank, sewer district, nonprofit, landscape, and community and workforce development professionals from … Continued

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Tackling Runoff through Community Education and Technology

In urban settings, stormwater runoff is one of the leading water quality concerns due to limited surface area where water can infiltrate into the soil. Impervious surfaces result in water flowing quickly across pavement and down gutters and sewers rather than dispersing out evenly over the landscape. The farther and faster the water travels, the more contaminants and sediment it picks up along the way.

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An Equitable Water Future: a National Briefing Paper

This U.S. Water Alliance publication summarizes the overarching and regional challenges that demonstrate the need for more equitable approaches, then outlines the “three pillars of equity” based on USWA’s original research, as well as data from PolicyLink. The report goes … Continued

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Space to Grow: Transforming Schoolyards into Vibrant Places

| Chicago, IL

Space to Grow transforms Chicago schoolyards into beautiful and functional spaces to play, learn, garden, and be outside. Schoolyard transformations prioritize physical activity, outdoor learning, and community engagement. The green schoolyards incorporate landscape features, such as rain gardens, native plantings, … Continued

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Reducing Plastic Pollution in an Urban Watershed

| Keyport, NJ

The project will identify, reduce, and prevent plastic from reaching the lower Passaic River watershed and Newark Bay complex. This goal will be achieved through surface water sample collection for microplastics, followed by public outreach and education. Student interns from … Continued

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Gentrification and Residential Mobility in Philadelphia

By focusing on Philadelphia and comparing this city’s mobility rates with other gentrification and displacement studies, it becomes evident that the effects of gentrification are extremely complex and can affect populations in a variety of ways depending on income level and other demographics. 

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Heron Pond Regional Open Space Master Plan

| Denver, CO

Denver Parks and Recreation and the North Denver Cornerstone Collaborative are leading an effort with the surrounding communities to re-envision approximately 80 acres of city property and existing open space around Heron Pond to serve as a regional and local … Continued

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Exploring the Green Infrastructure Workforce

This study was produced by Jobs for the Future (JFF) as part of NatureWORKS, a national initiative to understand the jobs, careers, skills, credentials, and potential of the U.S. green infrastructure workforce; and was funded by the U.S. Forest Service’s … Continued

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Urban Waters Community Improvement Plan

| Malden, Medford, and Everett, MA

The Mystic River Watershed Association (MyRWA) is dedicated to restoring and protecting the most urbanized watershed in Massachusetts. It partners with federal, state, and local agencies, using science—including citizen science—to influence public policy. Its signature programs include a 15-year old … Continued

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Community Engagement Improves Water Quality on the Wabash

| Lafayette, IN

The Wabash River Enhancement Corporation (WREC) partners with residents, commercial and industrial entities, local and regional governments, local civic and environmental organizations, and others to protect and improve water quality within the Wabash River watershed. Through initiatives such as the Paint … Continued

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Restoring the Wabash River in the Heart of Indiana

The Wabash River, which is Indiana’s state river, has a rich economic and cultural history. As a tributary of the Ohio River, it is part of the upper reaches of the 1,245,000-square-mile Mississippi River Basin, and so was a vital navigation and trade route for French traders traveling between Canada and the Gulf of Mexico.

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The Emerald Necklace: Connecting the Mountains to the Sea

The San Gabriel River drains a 713-mile watershed in the San Gabriel Mountains, flowing as far south as Long Beach, where it enters Alamitos Bay as a tidal river. It shares its watershed with two other major rivers: the Los Angeles and the Santa Ana.

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Reclaiming Urban Waterways—Daylighting the Saw Mill River

Few environmental projects focus community attention as dramatically as those that seek to create (or retrieve) parks and trails along urban waterways. The Groundwork network has achieved significant success on such projects, including the Saw Mill River Daylighting Park in Yonkers, NY; the Spicket River Greenway in Lawrence, MA; the Elizabeth River Greenway in Elizabeth, NJ; and the Mill Creek Greenway in Cincinnati.

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Stream Processes-A Guide to Living in Harmony with Streams

This wonderful guide, developed by the Chemung Soil and Water Conservation District in Horseheads, NY, has detailed, yet extremely understandable language and graphics (as well as humor) for people to be able to really understand our love-hate relationship with streams–especially … Continued

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Local Government Stormwater Financing Manual

This document from EFC EPA, published in 2014, was inspired by and written for local government leaders. Though effectively managing urban stormwater runoff requires leadership and bold decision making at all levels of government, it is at the local level … Continued

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River Voices (2015) Green Infrastructure & Urban Rivers

This issue of River Network’s quarterly newsletter explores the topic of turning our cities blue, of moving from gray to green infrastructure, and the related benefits to our communities of restoring the health of our urban waters. Download this resource

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Multifaceted Methods Help Restore the Mystic River

| Arlington, MA

Momentum for improving the Mystic River got started in 1969 when various agencies and local planning departments published a report outlining plans to tackle the high levels of pollution and improve recreational opportunities on the Mystic River Reservation, a publicly-owned nature preserve. By the early 1980’s, greenways with bike and pedestrian trails started to be installed.

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Environmental Justice for South Wilmington, Delaware

Flooding in South Wilmington neighborhood is a severe and well documented issue. South Wilmington is situated in a 100-year flood plain and surrounded on three sides by the Christina River. Knowing the extent of these issues, the City of Wilmington applied for and received funding in 2013 to repurpose three brownfields sites into a wetlands park in order to alleviate flooding.

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The Joy of Water

Homeowners guide to managing water on residential property. Step-by-step “recipes” to use on properties to reduce water pollution and small-scale flooding. Download this resource

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Addressing Baltimore’s Vacant Land Problem

Baltimore, Maryland, home to over 30,000 vacant and abandoned lots and numerous economically disadvantaged neighborhoods, is also home to some of the most innovative job creation strategies and vacant lot reclamation projects in the nation.

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Vacant Lots to Greenways in Kansas City

Heartland Conservation Alliance (HCA) was created as an alliance of diverse partners who share a vision and work collectively to conserve natural areas, connect people to nature and convene partners. Their mission is creating multiple benefits for people by focusing on projects that save Kansas City’s valuable natural resources and give them back to benefit the community—“ecological democracy.”

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Visioning for Green Infrastructure

While ECO-Action serves as the lead for the project there are many partners working together to address stormwater and combined sewer overflow impact on Proctor Creek. Green infrastructure concepts and principals are being infused into the Clark Atlanta University dual engineering courses. This marks a milestone in the efforts led by ECO-Action to increase awareness among faculty, staff, and students about the importance of green infrastructure and the type of positive impacts these practices and principals can have at a local level.

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Helping to Save the Rain

Once known as the most polluted lake in the nation, Onondaga Lake has received significant attention over the last several decades. The lake’s upper water’s have undergone tremendous improvement because of efforts to remediate industrial and municipal pollution. Improvements to the county’s wastewater treatment plant as well as the reduction of combined sewer overflows (CSO) through the use of both grey and green infrastructure have led to the resurgence of the lake’s fishery.

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Restoring Balance in an Urban Creek through Green Infrastructure

Ellerbe Creek flows out of the heart of Durham, North Carolina through the community on its 14 mile path to Falls Lake Reservoir, a drinking water source for more than half a million people. It offers a refuge for people and nature from the stresses of city life across its compact 37 square mile watershed. The entire creek has been designated as impaired since 1998 for ecological/biological integrity. Falls Lake Reservoir has similarly been identified as an impaired water body due to excessive levels of nitrates and phosphates associated with poorly managed stormwater and failing waste water systems.

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