What exactly is green infrastructure?
On a broad scale, green infrastructure is used to describe the natural areas, other green spaces, and features that are connected and managed to produce multiple valuable “services” contributing to the health and quality of life for communities and people. In urban settings, green infrastructure is often used to describe the natural approach alternatives to engineered stormwater control and treatment structures.
Why is Harford County conducting this planning effort?
Harford County is continually working to meet both the intent and regulatory requirements of the Clean Water Act and accomplish its 2016-2017 Watershed Implementation Plan goals, particularly by helping to prioritize funding for planting projects. Protecting water quality is essential for all residents and all aspects of the environment. The county will be exploring opportunities and potential partnerships to protect, improve, and expand green infrastructure functions, including improving the capacity to manage intensified precipitation and the accompanying stormwater runoff, reducing the urban heat island effect, and adding recreational opportunities.
Who else is involved in this green infrastructure planning activity?
Harford County is part of a regional collaborative that is examining the role of green infrastructure in providing climate change resiliency through strategies that include natural resource protection, green stormwater best management practices, coastal defense, and critical infrastructure protection. The Conservation Fund and the Susquehannock Wildlife Society have been close partners with the county and are directly engaging their resources to develop this green infrastructure plan for Harford County.
How does this green infrastructure plan fit with the county’s comprehensive plan and when will it be adopted?
The green infrastructure plan will assist the county in implementing many of the strategic actions identified in the county’s most recent comprehensive plan, HarfordNEXT. Current schedules call for completion of the draft green infrastructure plan in Fall 2018.
Why is it important to prepare this plan?
The development of the green infrastructure plan will compliment other county plans and programs (such as the Land Preservation Program, Parks and Recreation Plan (Parks Plan), Hazard Mitigation Plan, Chesapeake Bay Critical Area
Program, and the Deer Creek Water Resource Action Strategy). In particular, the Parks Plan can use the green infrastructure network to help designate parks as more passive or active-oriented, provide additional visions for greenway connections, increase citizen’s connection to nature, and incorporate the park proximity and equity analyses to also target Program Open Space (POS) funds for connecting gaps in the green infrastructure network.
Is the county looking at new regulations?
No. The green infrastructure plan will be considered within the parameters of the existing regulations. The county does not envision seeking stronger environmental protection. Instead, the county wants to identify smarter ways to provide high value ecosystem services to county lands and to work with community partners in establishing project prototypes.
What is the most visible final product of this green infrastructure plan?
The strategic preservation of land in urban areas to close the gaps within the green infrastructure network could be the most visible result of the green infrastructure plan. Closing gaps in the green infrastructure network will lead to improved recreational facilities and enhanced quality of life for county residents. More park-like amenities could be provided that demonstrate enhanced and conservation-friendly practices that add dynamic natural activity to public land.
Does this mean the county will preserve more natural open space?
The county’s first priority is to assess where there may be opportunities among existing county-owned properties to implement best management practices for green infrastructure projects. Leading by example, the county hopes to ensure that its land management practices are protecting water quality and providing environmental contributions for better resiliency. Eventually, the county may become involved in preserving or restoring more natural areas that help connect the green infrastructure network.
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.
How can I comment on the green infrastructure plan?
Comments can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include “GI Plan” in the subject line.
They also can be mailed to:
Harford County Department of Planning and Zoning
Attn: GI Plan
220 S Main Street
Bel Air, MD 21014