Greenspace Program

What is ‘Greenspace’?

OKI works hard to help promote and facilitate the conservation of greenspace throughout the region.

Greenspace refers to land in an undeveloped or restored natural state, or to the parks, recreational areas, working lands, and open spaces that comprise green infrastructure. While simultaneously improving citizens’ quality of life and conserving ecosystem benefits, greenspace also adds economic value to communities and helps to reduce costs from environmental damage. At any scale, connectivity is key for increasing greenspace value, making it necessary for OKI and partners to work together to conserve greenspace around the OKI region.

Image of Greenspace

OKI promotes the conservation of greenspace through its efforts to:

How Do We Grow From Here?

OKI’s Strategic Regional Policy Plan (SRPP) website, How Do We Grow From Here?, documents and explains OKI’s vision for regional vitality, sustainability, and competitiveness, all of which are focused around the land use-transportation dynamic. This plan was designed to answer key questions about the state of the region, and goes on to provide six strategic subject areas meant to guide and focus planning efforts in order to achieve the regional vision.

In 2014, OKI released its updated Strategic Regional Policy Plan Umbrella Document. This finalized version of the plan contains the adopted recommendations of OKI’s suggested land-use and transportation policies.

How Do We Grow?
  • Key Questions Addressed in the Strategic Planning Process:

    1. Where are we as a region?
    2. Where are we going given current trends?
    3. Where do we want to go?
    4. How do we get there?
  • Strategic Subject Areas:

    1. Housing
    2. Transportation
    3. Land-use
    4. Public Facilities and Services
    5. Natural Systems
    6. Economic Development

SRPP’s Link to Greenspace:

Within the first few years of existence, the Land Use Commission’s Steering Committee decided that “greenspace” should act as a placeholder for one of the commission’s three committees. This committee would go on to examine greenspace issues in the context of other environmental and infrastructure questions.

Around the same time, metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs), like OKI, were required by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to consider environmental impacts in all planning initiatives. Based around economic vitality, this ruling focused on the idea that areas with greater/healthier amounts of greenspace were relatively wealthier than areas with less/diminished greenspace. In order to create a more equal and efficient region, OKI highly values greenspace in all planning activities.

Natural Systems

How Do We Grow: Natural Systems:

Information detailing greenspace is divided up across three strategic subject areas within the SRPP. While the ‘Land Use’ and ‘Public Facilities’ sections of the plan briefly touch upon greenspace, the ‘Natural Systems’ strategic subject area has been linked closely with greenspace activities throughout inception.

Environmental Resources Viewer

The Environmental Resources Viewer was developed by OKI staff in early 2016 to be used in part for OKI’s transportation prioritization process. This map is able to display a vast array of data, from environmental to administrative features, through the collection and synthesis of data from around the OKI region. Using this tool, one can focus on a specific county, project site, community, or any level in between within the OKI region, being able to add or remove various layers, aerial photos, and base-maps to the display.

Environmental Consultations Reports

Environmental consultations bring along new insights to the transportation planning process. Intending to result in better, more efficient transportation decisions, these consultations assist in reducing the amount of negative environmental impacts as well as lowering costs for improving transportation and development. The deepened understanding of the dynamics between transportation and greenspace can also help provide ideas and expand the opportunity for transportation to advance sustainable development.

“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, OKI Environmental Consultations, 2011

About the Reports:

Federal requirements dictate that MPOs must conduct environmental consultations that compare transportation plans with identified state conserved/protected environmental resources. To abide by these requirements, 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 transportation and development impacts.

  • Suggestions for reducing project-level impact as well as cumulative effects of transportation and development.

Important Topics Within the Reports:

Environmental Resources

Regionally Significant Environmental Resources

Environmental resources considered as regionally significant typically include:

  • resources targeted for conservation/protection in state policy and regulations
  • resources that help protect state investments
  • high quality or rare resources
  • resources that help sustain other high quality or rare resources
Environmental Strategies

Applicable Strategies

Further transportation improvement and environmental protection strategies include:

  • Better overall planning
  • Increased use of low-impact development and green infrastructure for reducing stormwater impacts
  • Integration of best practices into development codes
  • A conservation element implemented in local comprehensive plans
  • Increased use of conservation easements
Environmental Concerns

Major Environmental Concerns

The top environmental worries found throughout the region included the concerns that:

  • forested tracts remain intact
  • stream corridors be conserved
  • roadway runoff be diverted from direct entry into streams
  • streams that are not yet degraded should be protected
  • the growth of impervious surface should be constrained

Access These Reports:

These reports can be found at the bottom of this webpage, in the ‘Archived Resources‘ section. Both the 2011 and 2012 environmental consultations reports can be accessed individually, while the 2015/2016 report is broken up within OKI’s 2040 Regional Transportation Plan. Click the links to access the respective reports.

Timeline for OKI’s 2020 Environmental Consultations:

Date: Activity:
Winter 2018-2019

Spring 2019

Summer 2019

Fall 2019

Winter 2019-2020

Spring 2020

Update Environmental Data and Analysis Tools (Environmental Viewer)

Regional Stakeholder Identification, Commitment, and Kick-Off

Stakeholder Engagement- Regionally Significant Issues

Stakeholder Engagement- Project Consideration

Integrate Considerations to Plan

Final Plan Preparation

Eco-Logical Report & Advanced Mitigation

Eco-Logical Report:

This report describes a landscape-scale, ecosystem approach for planning and developing infrastructure projects that:

  • Bring together resources, infrastructure, and regulatory agencies to form strong partnerships.

  • Incorporate natural resource and infrastructure data for use in mitigation, conservation, and planning

  • Allow agencies to establish joint priorities.

The Eco-Logical approach lays the ground work for agencies, government institutions, and organizations to cooperate and work in conjunction to develop an integrated Eco-Logical framework. This framework results in a systematic 8-step process for national resource identification, avoidance, minimization, and mitigation.

Eco-Logical 9 Steps

Recognized IAP Early Adopter!

OKI has been recognized as an early adopter of the Eco-Logical Implementation Assistance Program (AIP) by the US Department of Transportation FHWA. OKI’s integration between advanced mitigation planning efforts and state natural heritage endangered species data was featured in the Implementing Eco-Logical 2015/2016 Annual Report published in 2017.

What is Advanced Mitigation?

A relatively new term brought about by the Federal Highway Administration, ‘Advance Mitigation’ refers to the practice of determining major possible environmental impacts early in the planning process in order to figure out the best possible plan of action for where and how to proceed with the project.

Support Other Initiatives & Collaborative Efforts

Green Umbrella

Green Umbrella (GU) is a large-scale, sustainability alliance present across the Greater Cincinnati Region. GU helps oversee collaboration between >200 non-profits, businesses, educational institutions, and government entities focused on the environmental aspects of sustainability, acting as a “backbone organization” to each member in the alliance. Founded in 1998 to unite citizens and organizations that shared concern over the preservation and restoration of the diverse flora and fauna around the Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana area, Green Umbrella’s original focus for conserving greenspace was to enhance the vitality of the region. While staying dedicated to environmental sustainability, GU eventually widened their focus to include the promotion of outdoor recreation, and improvement of both economic vitality and quality of life.

Now serving across 10 counties in the Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana area, Green Umbrella performs most of its work through established ‘Action Teams’ that meet monthly, discussing, establishing, and working on reaching sustainability goals around the region. OKI is still directly involved with GU’s Greenspace Action Team, Watershed Action Team, and Transportation Action Team. Check them out to the right!

Action Teams Currently Involved with OKI:

  • Greenspace Impact Team

    • OKI is currently involved with the Landscape Impact Area serving to provide quality habitat, ecosystem services (including carbon sequestration and stormwater management) and connect people to place and each other.
    • Activities include serving in the Priority Land Protection and Riparian Restoration Impact Teams. Providing technical support to the Greenspace Gems program which highlights natural areas in the GU region. Providing technical support to the land prioritization mapping model being developed to help identify the most significant areas in the region.
  • Regional Watershed Network

    • OKI works closely with the network of watershed experts in the Tri-State region. This network works to protect, enhance, and celebrate various water features.

Taking Root:

The Taking Root campaign started in 2013 as a collaborative effort between OKI, the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Gardens, Green Umbrella, and the Green Partnership of Greater Cincinnati in order to address the local tree crisis and plant, manage, and retain forested area across the region. In 2016, the Taking Root Campaign became its own independent, non-profit organization.

Follow the link below to learn more about the crisis confronting our trees and forests, and about how you, your community, and/or organization can join with OKI and partners to help address Taking Root goals.

Trees and Stormwater:

Based on a 2017 report completed by OKI and partners, this website was developed as a national tool and resource for promoting, facilitating, and increasing the use of trees in stormwater management. This site contains a document builder designed to compile resources from around one’s community, helping build a document that can convince others in the community of the value of the tree canopy and its impact upon stormwater.

The Trees & Stormwater website is currently offline.

Additional Information

Contact for more info:

Margaret Minzner
Margaret MinznerEnvironmental Senior Planner
OKI Regional Council of Governments

720 E. Pete Rose Way, Suite 420
Cincinnati, Ohio 45202

Office No.- 513.619.7675

Archived Resources:

  • Environmental Consultations Reports:

    1. 2011 Consultations Report
    2. 2012 Consultations Report
    3. 2015/2016 Consultations Report
      • The 2015/16 Environmental Consultations Report was never individually released, but instead used to help inform and plan OKI’s Regional Long Range Plan (OKI 2040 Regional Transportation Plan). Specifically, the points and conclusions from the ’15/’16 consultations report can be found in the ‘Environmental Impacts’ and ‘Planning Assumptions’ sections of this plan.
  • Environmental Consultations Webcast:

    • Aired Dec 15th, 2015. An ~20 minute podcast discussing OKI’s Environmental Consultations process.
    • Link to Webcast
  • Natural Heritage Data Report:

    • This report documents NHD locations around the OKI region, identifying areas of concentration to further/more carefully reduce environmental impact and conserve significant environmental resources.
    • Access OKI’s NHD Report Here
  • Endangered, Threatened, and Rare (ETR) Species in the OKI Region: