Thanks to Kate Ward and the Northwest Arkansas Times for good article on yesterday's gathering. This is an open meeting for public education and public input.
Natural Heritage Association makes plans for a green future
By Kate Ward
Sunday, September 13, 2009
FAYETTEVILLE — Working farms, agricultural land, streams and forests were among the areas outlined by the Fayetteville Natural Heritage Association’s Green Infrastructure Plan on Saturday.
Barbara Boland, project coordinator, said the project is being funded through a pilot grant program funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service. The regional plan encompasses 172 square miles and will be used by local decision makers to guide conservation and growth in Northwest Arkansas.
“This is a long-term approach to regional planning,” she said. “It will provide a tool for the different municipalities in Washington County. It has what the public deems to be areas of preservation as well as areas deemed appropriate for potential growth.”
Last year, the group hosted its first public forum in partnership with the Arkansas Forestry Commission’s Urban Forestry Program and the Beaver Water District in hopes of gaining community support. The three organizations received a $25,000 grant to develop a Plan for Green Infrastructure-Linking Arkansas Communities. The project is one of four pilot studies in the Southeast region of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service and will serve as a prototype for developing other plans in Arkansas.
Washington County Judge Marilyn Edwards said sheattended the public input forum to lean about the group’s future plans.
“This is a rural state, and we have to preserve our roots,” she said. “We don’t want to lose our identity. I think this is a good group, and that the direction they’re taking is certainly good for the county.”
Members of the design team have been working to identify networks of natural and working land that supports the biological, cultural and economic vitality of the region. The project area encompasses Farmington, Johnson, Greenland and Fayetteville, as well as their planning areas and surrounding land in Washington County.
In addition to farms, agricultural land, streams and forests, the group’s preservation areas also include riparian zones, prairie and grassland remnants and parks and trails.
“Initially, we presented our ideas to about 300 stake holders,” Boland said. “Of that number, about 60 volunteered to participate in the planning process. They helped us collect data by talking about what areas of the county are important to them.”
The group will hold a second public input meeting from 2-4 p.m. today at the same, 16142 Pin Oak Road, off Wedington Drive north of the Wedington Woods area.
Chotkowski Gardens 479-587-8920
16142 Pin Oak Rd , Fayetteville, AR 72704
A follow-up meeting has been slated for Oct. 1 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the Fayetteville Public Library. Three additional forums, which have yet to be planned, will also take place for members of the public.
Boland said the data linked to the Green Infrastructure Plan will soon be available to members of the public via the Internet thanks to the University of Arkansas’ Center for Advance Spacial Technology.
For more information about green infrastructure planning, visit www.fayettevillenatural.org/whatshappening.php or call Boland at (479) 521-2801.