EcoCity Cleveland receives funding for watershed planning
EcoCity Cleveland has received a $274,000 grant from the Joyce Foundation to assist the state's Lake Erie Balanced Growth Initiative. Over the next two years, we will be developing methodologies and computer mapping tools that will help communities decide where it's best to develop or conserve land in the Lake Erie watershed in order to restore the lake. We also will be helping state agencies decide what policies and incentives are needed to promote a better balance of growth.
Specifically, we will:
- Develop a decision support system Building on EcoCity Cleveland's experience leading citizen-based environmental planning projects, we will work with the Balanced Growth Program's three pilot planning projects and develop a GIS-based decision support system to assist the designation of Priority Conservation Areas and Priority Development Areas. This system will be a practical tool for local decision-makers who are struggling to work across municipal and county boundaries and align land use with the health of watersheds.
- Evaluate state policies that influence the location of growth To support the implementation of local watershed plans, the state will have to make sure its policies and programs promote growth and conservation in the right locations. The Balanced Growth Task Force recommends that an inter-agency team of state officials study which policies and programs can be used as incentives. But, given the magnitude of this task, this team will need a great deal of assistance especially research and policy analysis to determine which existing state policies have the most powerful influence on the location of real estate development and which ones can be changed to promote balanced patterns of growth.
We are very excited about this opportunity to help citizens and the state make the connection between land use and water quality. Our work will complement a Joyce Foundation-funded project by the Audubon Society to help citizens understand the links between watershed protection and habitat for birds.
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Policy report: The state role in guiding land use change in the Lake Erie Basin