Harford County has engaged in a planning project to develop and refine a County-wide green infrastructure network.  Through this planning effort, the County will try to maximize the benefits of the existing green infrastructure, mitigate for the effects of climate change, and seek
opportunities to enhance the benefits and values of wildlife protection and shoreline erosion control.

The following are some questions and answers about the Green Infrastructure Plan and its goals: 

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 did Harford County conduct 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 master plan and when will it be adopted?
Harford County’s comprehensive master plan, HarfordNEXT, named developing the Green Infrastructure Plan as a Big Idea. The Green Infrastructure Plan will assist in the implementation of many strategic actions identified in HarfordNEXT, most of which are located in the Environmental Stewardship theme. The County will be accepting comments on the Draft Plan through November 30, 2018. A Final Plan will be completed after the comment period and final adjustments are made.

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.

How does the County intend to use the Green Infrastructure

By identifying a network of high-quality natural habitat and linear features (corridors) suitable for wildlife, the County can make informed decisions regarding conservation lands and passive open space. 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 and conservation-friendly practices could be provided to demonstrate enhanced GI benefits that add dynamic activity to public land. The implementation section in the plan details various action strategies for the County and citizens to consider.

How can I see the green infrastructure network in Harford County?

Harford County is excited to provide a web-based interactive viewer showing the various data sets that make up the County’s green infrastructure network. All citizens gain direct access to the green infrastructure network in the context of aerial photography and other key data sets. The County hopes to have the web-based viewer online by the end of October 2018.

How can I comment on the Green Infrastructure Plan?

Comments can be emailed to balong@harfordcountymd.gov. 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

For more information about green infrastructure and to view the Draft Plan, please visit the County website: http://www.harfordcountymd.gov/2461/Green-Infrastructure-Plan.