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MARC, MetroGreen, and Inclusive Efforts Among Stakeholder Groups

The Mid-America Regional Council (MARC) and the MetroGreen Alliance (MGA) have fostered a number of cooperative arrangements among stakeholder groups to integrate the regional green infrastructure plan in the Kansas City metropolitan area. In order to foster a collaborative approach toward green infrastructure adoption and implementation, MARC and MGA developed a Green Infrastructure Indicators Project. The purpose of the GIIP was to provide local and regional stakeholders with indicators that could aid the decision-making and monitoring process (2009a). The GIIP was also intended to be integrated into a larger economic development plan, called MetroOutlook.

The scope of the MetroGreen plan is comprehensive and succeeds in prioritizing actions and partnerships that are easiest to undertake (2009b). As the MARC GI Indicators Final Report illustrates, the vast majority of the cooperative arrangements among stakeholder groups include only two of the seven indicators (sustainable land use and sustainable economic development).  MARC is also planning to develop additional partnerships and initiatives that address the region’s long-term healthpublic safety, transportation, and ultimately, environmental health (2012).

The seven indicators in the GIIP are described below and include a description of the metric by which they are evaluated (2009a).

Sustainable Land Use

  • Percent of land in the MARC region that is permeable.

Sustainable Economic Development

  • Annual regional greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions compared to 1990 baseline.

Social Capital Investment

  • Percent of 3rd graders reading at the 3rd grade level.

Financial Well-Being

  • Percent of population in households with jobs providing self-sufficient level of income.

Health

  • Percent of population that is obese.

Safety

  • Percent of people who feel safe compared to the actual crime rate (change compared to baseline year).

Equality of Opportunity

  • Geographic concentration of poverty.

Existing cooperative arrangements among stakeholders

 In the list below, I cover a few of the existing partnerships that have been developed through MARC and the MetroGreen Alliance.

Sustainable Economic Development Partnerships

Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce Climate Protection Partnership  provides a list of regional businesses  that have partnered with the chamber to reduce greenhouse emissions and maximize the environmental benefits that come with reducing emissions.

Kansas City Power and Light works with businesses, building operators, and homeowners to maximize energy efficiency.

Bridging the Gap provides education and actionable programs for schools, businesses, and governments to encourage environmentally friendly behavior.

Local Universities and colleges are involved in the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment program .

Sustainable Land-Use Partnerships

One recurring theme in the GIIP plan is the need to accumulate information and feedback about natural resource performance. MARC intends to cultivate “more collaborative, participatory planning” at a regional level to assess how the numerous initiatives affect the health of the overall region (2005).  The below examples illustrate the variety of ways in which stakeholder partnerships work toward the broad goal of increasing the percentage of permeable land in the metro KC area.

Clay County has partnered with the Missouri Department of Conservation and others to expand a prairie restoration project to 2,300 acres around Smithville Lake.

The Kansas City Wildlands group, part of Bridging the Gap, include volunteers and partner organizations such as the Missouri Native Plant Society to restore habitat within the high-priority greenway systems identified in the MetroGreen plan.

The Blue River Watershed Association works with students and the larger community to help restore and protect the health of the watershed.

Many land trust organizations, such as the Kansas Land Trust, the Platte County Land Trust, the Watershed Land Trust, work toward the conservation of environmentally and culturally significant land

Potential cooperative arrangements among stakeholder groups

MARC needs to continue championing its existing partnerships while simultaneously cultivating new arrangements between stakeholder groups. For example, the plan calls for Social Capital Investment. The ability of a cohort of third graders to read at their grade level would ostensibly indicate the future vitality of the region’s economic health as well as a warning sign if reading skills are found deficient.

The logic and intent of setting long-term community goals toward a more sustainable future is clear:  a better educated, healthier, safe, and equitable public will be much more likely to value green infrastructure and the associated long-term benefits. However, the broad scope of the indicators in the GIIP plan means that it will be difficult to achieve consensus among the many vested interests with competing ideas on how to improve their own areas of interest, much less place their interest, like education, in an environmental context. MARC acknowledges the tradeoff between “adhering to the co-development principle” and “slowing down the project timeline” and believes that widespread community support toward a holistic vision of green infrastructure is worth the wait.

Works Cited

Integrating Regional Indicators into the Planning and Implementation of the Kansas City Regional MetroGreen project. Kansas City, Missouri: Mid-America Regional Council.

2005. On the Map:  Conservation Planning for the Kansas City Region. Kansas City, MO: Mid-America Regional Council.

2009a. Integrating Regional Indicators into the Planning and Implementation of the Kansas City Regional MetroGreen project. Kansas City, Missouri: Mid-America Regional Council.

2009b. Kansas City Green Infrastructure Case Study. Alexandria, VA: The Conservation Fund.

2012. MARC Regional Initiatives. Mid-America Regional Council 2012 [cited 10-23-2012 2012]. Available from http://www.marc.org/initiatives.htm.

 

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