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Case Studies

Community Engagement through NGO Partnerships of the MetroGreen Alliance

According to Tom Jacobs, Environmental Program Director for the Mid-America Regional Council (MARC), “green infrastructure is now an intrinsic part of the dialogue within the Kansas City metropolitan region.”  Much of this dialogue can be credited to the work of the MetroGreen Alliance, the organization network tasked with both building community support and coordinating local adoption and implementation of the MetroGreen Action Plan.  In this capacity, the Alliance engages a diverse group of stakeholders partnering local governments and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), other private interest groups and residents through a community engagement process.  Of particular interest are the types of NGOs participating and their capacity for achieving green infrastructure objectives in the interconnected regional greenway system.

NGO Alliance partners break-out into 3 major types:

  • Water-related (watershed, wetlands/streams, river)
  • Recreation-oriented (parks/recreation, bicycling, trails)
  • Conservation/Restoration/Education-specific (land trusts, landscapes, trees, birds)

Representative leadership from these NGOs convened by MARC in 2001 helped create a framework for MetroGreen efforts among diverse constituencies that later evolved into the MetroGreen Alliance network.  Engaging these targeted “publics” promotes the Plan’s vision of providing multi-use trails, conservation and restoration of habitat, biodiversity, water quality and green infrastructure in its 16 priority corridors.

Of the proposed 1,114 miles of corridors in the greenway system, 57% are in stream and river corridors with regional watersheds as the local action-oriented planning unit.  Watershed groups, such as the Blue River Watershed Association, in the network provide water quality monitoring, advocacy support for local riparian protection ordinances, education and outreach through demonstration projects, trail maintenance and stream clean-up events.

Recreation-oriented NGOs, represented by the Greater Kansas City Bicycle Federation, support the 30% of corridors identified along roadways for alternative transportation and recreation linkages.  Advocating for improved bicycle conditions for transportation, utilitarian and recreational reasons, members of these organizations provide technical expertise, support for corridor acquisition and development that improves quality of life, health and environment.

Conservation/protection organizations and land trusts round out the remainder of NGO partners.  Exemplified by the Platte Land Trust or KC Wildlands, these NGOs along with capacities for education and outreach provide a constituent base for stewarding natural landscapes or specific natural resources through acquisition by donation or conservation easement or agreement.

In addition to regularly held forums among Alliance partners for networking, sharing of best practices and partner coalitions on greenway projects, MARC hosts online forums and town hall websites as a civic engagement tool for greater Kansas City.  Not specifically limited to MetroGreen, OneKCVoice and Many Voices, One Region forums, provide residents with input on various regional planning and development issues within the broader sustainability framework of which green infrastructure is a major element.

The Conservation Fund.  2009.  “Kansas CityGreen Infrastructure Case Study.”  Green Infrastructure – Linking Lands for Nature and People

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