Greenspace Program

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Greenspace Program 2018-08-09T18:39:01+00:00

Greenspace Program

OKI works to promote and facilitate the conservation of greenspace. Greenspace can refer to land in an undeveloped or restored natural state or to the parks and recreational areas, working lands and open spaces that comprise green infrastructure. While it improves the quality of people’s lives and conserves eco-system benefits, greenspace also adds economic value to communities and reduces costs from environmental damage. At any scale, connectivity is key for increasing greenspace value.

OKI promotes the conservation of greenspace through its efforts to:

  • Bring environmental considerations more fully into the transportation planning process.
  • Support the Taking Root Campaign and the conservation of significant environmental resources.
  • Implement OKI’s Strategic Regional Policy Plan recommendations for conserving natural systems and integrating greenspace into the development process.

Environmental Resources Viewer

The OKI interactive map of Environmental Resources and Greenspace Features allows you to:

  • Focus on your county, a project site, or any level in between — or zoom to your community
  • Select aerial photos, U.S.G.S. or other base maps and any combination of the following:
  • Natural Features:   Aquifer | Flood Hazard Areas | Slopes 20% or greater | Surface Water | Tree Canopy | Watershed Boundaries
  • Environmental and Historic Resources:  Endangered, Threatened and Rare Species (Natural Heritage Database records) | Historic Places | Prime Farmland | Wetlands
  • Greenspace-related Land Uses:   Agricultural Districts … (Note: OKI will be adding Parks and Preserves and other uses)
Launch the Environmental Resource Viewer

Taking Root

Learn about the crisis confronting our trees and forests and how you, your community or organization can join with OKI and partner organizations to help address Taking Root goals to

  • Plant trees (2 million trees by 2020 – a tree for everyone in the OKI Region),
  • Better manage our local forests,
  • Promote the many benefits of healthy trees and
  • Foster a sense of stewardship among individuals and communities.
Visit Taking Root

Environmental Consultations Report

OKI’s reports on Environmental Consultations in Regional Transportation Planning include:

  • maps and data on the region’s most significant (and least impaired) environmental resources,
  • insights from local and state agencies on how to better protect environmental resources from the impacts of transportation projects and related development (so that mitigation and costly environmental impacts might be avoided) and
  • suggestions for reducing project-level impacts and cumulative effects of transportation improvements and development trends and practices.

Environmental Consultations are intended to result in better decisions and lower costs for improving transportation and how development occurs.

Download 2011 Consultations | Download 2012 Consultations

”Interest in conserving natural resources is increasing because of the economic angle – protection is in the interest of the pocketbook. The cost of replacing or restoring natural resources should make it a no-brainer to see the need to protect them.” Local agency participant in OKI Environmental Consultations, 2011

Open space conservation is not an expense but an investment that produces important economic benefits. Will Rogers, President, Trust for Public Land

Regionally Significant Environmental Resources considered in Consultations are resources that are targeted for conservation or protection in state regulations or policy or for helping to protect state investments. These are mostly high quality or rare resources — or help to sustain other high quality or rare resources – for which project impacts can require mitigation and increase costs. Resource categories are listed in Table 1 of the 2012 report.

Major Environmental Concerns identified in the consultations are that

  • forested tracts remain intact,
  • stream corridors be conserved,
  • roadway runoff be diverted from direct entry into streams,
  • streams not yet degraded by protected and
  • the growth of impervious surface be constrained.

Discussion of local strategies for addressing these concerns is in Chapter 4 of the 2011 report and  pages 15-17 of the 2012 report.

Strategies suggested as having the greatest potential for protecting environmental resources were, in general, to improve the existing transportation system rather than build new facilities and to conduct better planning (put protective provisions in place before development occurs) and, more specifically, to expand:

  • low-impact development/LID and green infrastructure for reducing stormwater impacts,
  • integration of best practices into development codes,
  • conservation element of local comprehensive plans,
  • conservation easements and
  • watershed planning.

Discussion of the suggested local strategies is in Chapter 5 of the 2011 report; additional suggestions are in Chapter 4 of the 2012 report.

Natural Heritage Data Report

Access OKI’s report on Natural Heritage Data and mapped information on endangered, threatened and rare species. The report’s maps identify one-mile sections that contain NHD sites indicative of conservation value and the potential for mitigation requirements for projects using federal or state funds. The report also documents agreements with state agencies and the mapping process (both designed to protect data while increasing its availability) made possible by a grant from the Federal Highway Administration’s Second Strategic Highway Research Program/SHRP.

Download the Natural Heritage Data Report

Endangered, Threatened and Rare Species in the OKI Region

View the species in your county listed as endangered, threatened or rare at global, federal and state levels. Of the 161 species listed for our region, two thirds of the animal species depend on aquatic habitat. This list indicates the importance of conserving and connecting wetlands, high-quality streams and other Regionally Significant Environmental Resources and natural greenspace areas for the survival of local native species.

2015 list of Endangered, Threatened and Rare Species in the OKI Region

How Do We Grow From Here

OKI’s Strategic Regional Policy Plan provides recommendations for better protecting greenspace and natural systems (connected to Natural Systems, Land Use, and Public Facilities issues).

As part of the SRPP update, OKI revised its scoring systems for selecting projects in the Long Range Plan and prioritizing projects in the Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) to better account for potential environmental effects by asking these questions of project applicants:

  • Will this project avoid adverse impacts to environmental resources? (e.g., Does project avoid removing trees; discharging untreated stormwater to streams directly; cutting into hillsides; stream piping?)
  • Will this project avoid impacts to environmental resources that may require mitigation? (e.g., wetlands, Prime or Important Farmland, Ohio or Kentucky Agricultural Districts, historic resources, sites of federal or state endangered or threatened species, and/or flood plains)
  • Is green infrastructure planned for managing roadway runoff from this project so as to mimic natural stormwater detention and filtration? (e.g., use of bioswales or treatment trains)
  • Does this project include features to restore environmental resources? (e.g., removal of culverts to “daylight” streams, replacement of culverts with larger culverts that allow for wildlife travel, replacement of stormwater conveyance system with infrastructure that provides for stormwater treatment and/or infiltration, addition of trees)
Visit How Do We Grow From Here

Green Infrastructure Group

The Green Infrastructure Group (GIG) began with a request from the Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD) to Hamilton County Planning and Development in 2015 to explore the potential of green infrastructure to positively influence combined sewer overflows (CSOs) to the Mill Creek in the Kings Run Watershed/College Hill Neighborhood of Cincinnati. Partners in the GIG include Hamilton County Planning and Development, MSD, Citizens United For Action (CUFA), City of Cincinnati, Sierra Club, CDM Smith, U.S. EPA, and OKI. In 2016 the group engaged in a study to identify what incentives would be most effective to get local residents to install green infrastructure practices such as rain barrels and rain gardens at their homes. The project culminated in a US EPA report prepared by CDM Smith, “Planning a Green Infrastructure Incentives Program for Target Neighborhoods in the City of Cincinnati.”

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