Green Infrastructure (GI) is our Nation's natural life support system - a strategically planned and managed interconnected network of green spaces including: conserved natural areas and features, such as, wetlands, woodlands, waterways and wildlife habitats; public and private conservation areas, such as nature preserves, landscape linkages, wildlife corridors, and wilderness areas; private working lands of conservation value, such as forests, farms, and ranches; and other protected open spaces, such as greenways and parks. Green infrastructure supports native species, maintains natural ecological processes, sustains air and water resources and contributes to the health and quality of life for America's communities and people. The term "green infrastructure" invokes images of planned networks of green spaces that benefit wildlife and people and link urban settings to suburban and rural ones. Just as growing communities need to plan for, upgrade and expand their gray infrastructure (i.e. roads, sewers and utilities) so too they need to plan for, upgrade and expand their green infrastructure. Green infrastructure is "open space with a purpose" that, like other infrastructure, should be an integral part of government budgets and management programs.
The University of Maryland EFC is working with several other centers in the EFC Network to deliver capacity building technical assistance to recipients of HUD-EPA-DOT Sustainable Community Partnership Grants. The assistance focuses on water and green infrastructure needs and has taken the form of large-scale workshops, community-specific “office hours” sessions, and development of a clearing house of additional outside resources.
The EFC is conducting an assessment of federal programming designed to support green infrastructure efforts from the perspective of both the agencies involved and the stakeholders attempting to make use of these programs. We expect our findings will lead to recommendations for ways to improve the efficiency of these investments and to ensure that federal support is catalytic in drawing in additional public and private capital to on-the-ground green infrastructure efforts.