Green Infrastructure Plan
Harford County is currently developing a Green Infrastructure Plan to prioritize the preservation of the county’s most environmentally sensitive and valuable lands. A Green Infrastructure Plan, or GIP, incorporates all aspects of a healthy ecosystem, including local communities, within a forested network of focal hubs and interconnecting corridors. Hubs may include large forests and recreational parks with linear corridors of streams and forested trails to connect them, creating a ‘green network’.
A green network preserves streams and aquatic wildlife, including recreational brook trout, and also preserves forested areas as migratory routes for native species of plants and animals, including important pollinators. Protection of such habitat areas can maintain or increase our county’s economic trade related to recreation, farming, forestry, and tourism. Green networks also improve air and water quality.
Having a green network that is easily accessible for the public not only creates recreational opportunities close by, but also promotes ‘walkable’ communities by the use of nearby trails for walking, jogging, and cycling. The social interaction that occurs from such activities promotes a standard of respect and safety among community members, and can even help to dissolve prejudices about race, economic status, and educational status. Studies have shown that being in or around areas with green infrastructure boosts self-esteem, improves confidence, lowers stress, reduces anxiety, improves ADD/ADHD symptoms, and increases overall life satisfaction in people of all ages—even with green infrastructure as small as a community garden.
The Green Infrastructure Plan will identify opportunities to use natural or “green” infrastructure as a means to protect and restore our valuable resources, including the improvement of our storm water systems. Additional examples of green infrastructure improvements can be found in the Green Infrastructure Story Map.
With the financial assistance from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Harford County will collaborate with the Susquehannock Wildlife Society and The Conservation Fund in the development of the anticipated GIP, conducting habitat assessments that will be used to evaluate the benefits of the green infrastructure network in areas of natural habitat.
In September 2016, Harford County held their pilot project GIP workshop. As the county-wide GIP continues to develop, the County would like to invite the public to the next GIP workshop to be held on Thursday February 8, 2018 from 5-8pm, at Harford Community College Chesapeake Center. This workshop will help the County determine the most important goals and strategies for developing the County GIP. This workshop will allow for open discussion among attendants, where green infrastructure ideas can be shared and audience feedback pertaining to all GIP ideas and questions are welcomed.
Key topics to be addressed at the GIP workshop will include the most important restoration and preservation strategies, and environmental goals as defined in Harford County’s Master Plan, HarfordNEXT. For additional information to frequently asked questions, check out Harford County Cable Network’s interview with the County’s Chief of Long-Range Planning, and the Vice President of the Conservation Fund.