If your job is to help create a better community for the citizens who live there, taking action to conserve and enhance your natural resources should be a top priority. Consider this information to get you started.
Green infrastructure Municipal officials are discovering that certain conservation practices in landscaping can help to beautify communities, reduce stormwater runoff, improve property values and cut costs. Since it makes good conservation and economic sense here are a few resources to get you started:
• Using Native Plants
Stormwater management With increased development comes the challenge of managing rainwater that was once absorbed through pervious surfaces and slowed down by plant and tree roots. This comprehensive website has best practices, case studies and the latest techniques in managing stormwater. These top 10 best practices for stormwater management could be applied in every community.
Green buildings Perhaps someday, green techniques and materials will be the standard for all buildings. For now, those buildings that strive for environmental sustainability follow the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) guidelines.
• Geothermal fact sheet
• Green Roofs fact sheet
Green parks When is a park more than just a park? When it incorporates conservation practices and techniques into the space to create a more environmentally sensitive and functional space. Many parks are learning that “green” parks make better parks. Learn more.
Energy Energy conservation is the area that can produce the biggest cost savings and do the greatest good for the environment. Small communities often lack the resources and the knowledge to implement change. The Pa. Department of Environmental Protection offers energy assistance for local governments.
Other resources include:
• Solar fact sheet
• Small Wind Energy Turbines fact sheet
Brownfields to Green Spaces The early industrialization of our state helped to fuel the nation. But with that progress also came devastation of the natural resources. The “brownfields” left behind by former industrial process have been reborn in communities all across the state. The Department of Environmental Protection’s Land Recycling program is leading the charge.
Geology Landslides, sinkholes and earthquakes, oh my! While all three are not pervasive throughout the state, our geologic makeup makes certain areas more prone to these geologic hazards. Digital geologic maps and data and geologic publications and reports can provide additional geologic information to help communities plan and prepare.
Buy local More communities are understanding the value of creating “close to home” amenities to help their citizens live locally. When citizens buy products within their communities or nearby, it stimulates local economies and helps to reduce the carbon footprint associated with the transportation of goods.
Case studies/spotlights Many land owners and developers across Pennsylvania are implementing sustainable practices for design and maintenance of their properties. Here are just a few examples. Some additional trail and park case studies are here.
Wildfire Prevention As we continue to expand our communities into open areas near forests and fields, we increase the risk of wildfire dangers. Is your community and home prepared in the event of a large-scale fire? There are tips to become more firewise as well as wildfire grants available to local volunteer fire companies.
Grants Funding is often what stands in the way of a community developing a more sustainable practice or implementing a feature or program that helps to protect resources. DCNR’s Community Conservation Partnerships Program has funding available for trails, greenways, parks, land and rivers conservation and more.
Training, Workshops A little bit of knowledge goes a long in finding the best way to advance your community’s conservation project. Trainings and workshops are help throughout the state each year by DCNR and the Pa. Recreation and Park Society.
Resources Plenty of tools are available to help community leaders protect their natural resources and create more livable and sustainable communities. One very comprehensive website is http://conservationtools.org/.
Still have questions? Ask an expert.