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New Regional Green Infrastructure Data
To plan for and ultimately preserve a connected network of open space, GO TO 2040 recommends that the region use a "green infrastructure" approach to land conservation, and CMAP has been working with Chicago Wilderness, a regional alliance of organizations involved in conservation, to do just that. Chicago Wilderness developed the "Green Infrastructure Vision" planning project in 2004 using the best available natural resources data at that time to help identify the areas in the region that are most important to conserve and restore.
Since GO TO 2040 was adopted in October 2010, CMAP and Chicago Wilderness have been working with The Conservation Fund, a nonprofit organization nationally recognized for its expertise in green infrastructure planning, to refine and update green infrastructure data for the region. At www.cmap.illinois.gov/green-infrastructure these data are now available, along with a set of GIS tools, for conservation partners in the region to help identify portions of the green infrastructure network on which they wish to concentrate their efforts.
Accessing and using the data
There are two complementary ways of using the green infrastructure data:
- Guiding conservation investments, such as land purchases or grant awards.
- Helping shape future growth to minimize loss of green infrastructure as the region grows and develops.
Later this year CMAP will release a guideon how the region can integrate green infrastructure protection into existing planning and decision-making processes. Organizations whose mission is land conservation can use the data to determine where to acquire or otherwise protect land. Municipalities and counties can also incorporate regional green infrastructure data into their comprehensive plans or develop ordinances to protect green infrastructure areas. Because one of the goals of GO TO 2040 is to help make sure that "gray infrastructure" expansion does not come at the expense of the green infrastructure network, agencies developing significant gray infrastructure projects, such as road or utility projects, could use the data to minimize disturbance to sensitive areas.