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Kansas City Region

Monitoring and Data Collection for Kansas City’s MetroGreen Green Infrastructure Project

Green infrastructure (GI) has abundant promise for improving development practices to support necessary ecosystem services and sustain community health.  GI is a broad and emerging field; given financial constraints and organizational hurdles, its best application can often be nebulous.  Effectively implementation of green infrastructure can be improved using scientific monitoring and data collection to compile relevant information into mapping and decision-making tools for regional planning frameworks. Monitoring and data collection can help quantifiably inform an initial case for GI, determine the best application points of GI solutions, assess how the system is working, and improve it dynamically over time.  The Kansas City region’s MetroGreen project provides an example of how different organizations can collaborate to collect data to help set informed priorities for a large-scale GI plan.


In their 2007 action plan, MetroGreen identified “a regional network of greenways connecting many of the area’s most valuable natural assets [, and by] the end of 2008 […] had succeeded in creating 252 miles of greenway trails and protecting about 91,000 acres of stream corridors” (The Conservation Fund, 2009).  In order to identify these corridors, the Mid-America Regional Council (MARC) teamed with several consultant groups such as Applied Ecological Services (AES) to conduct environmental field survey research to be analyzed and mapped along with existing location-based data (e.g., from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) using GIS tools.  For more information about their methods, results, and recommendations for future data collection, please see AES’s 2004 report at <http://www.marc.org/Environment/Smart_Growth/pdf/nri.pdf>.


Relevant stakeholders helped identify the regional areas that were the most valuable and/or threatened and had the highest priority for addressing the goals of their plan.  These goals include preserving metropolitan stream corridors, linking people to outdoor recreation and non-motorized transportation resources, educating residents about natural heritage, preserving native plant and animal habitats, and implementing a green space system (The Conservation Fund, 2009).


For mapping purposes, MARC prepared in 2004 a regional Natural Resources Inventory (NRI), a GIS-based technical analysis tool to layer natural systems with existing and future development plans.  The NRI had to create a consistent natural resources classification and inventory method across collaborating agencies, and design the tool to be flexible to new information and changing community needs (Mid-America Regional Council, 2005).  For ongoing assessment, Sustainable Measures, Inc. developed a 2008 “framework to measure progress toward a ‘green region’ vision” using economic, social and environmental system and performance indicators (The Conservation Fund, 2009).  Please see Table 1 (The Conservation Fund, 2009) for a list of these regional indicators.




Measures such as these enable organizations to quantify their decision-making processes for GI planning.   Through ongoing monitoring, they also help assess if the system is meeting its goals for benefits such as air and water quality, storm-water management, wildlife protection, and healthy recreation and transportation.  Kansas City is still in the process of implementing its green infrastructure vision.  It will be interesting to quantifiably chart their progress and monitor and assess how their GI systems function over time.





Apfelbaum, Steven I. et al., 2004.  Ecological Land Cover Classification For a Natural Resources Inventory in the Kansas City Region, USA.  Applied Ecological Services, Inc., in cooperation with the Mid-America Regional Council.  Retrieved online from <http://www.marc.org/Environment/Smart_Growth/pdf/nri.pdf>.


Briechle, Kendra J., 2009.  Kansas City Green Infrastructure Case Study. The Conservation Fund.


Mid-America Regional Council, February 2005. On the Map: Conservation Planning for the Kansas City Region.  Retrieved online from <http://www.marc.org/Environment/Smart_Growth/pdf/nribook.pdf>.

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