Matanuska-Susitna Borough

Conservation in concert with land development

Palmer | Patty Sullivan | Sunday, April 29, 2007

The Matanuska-Susitna Borough and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are hosting a course at the Lake Lucille Inn, March 26-30, called "Strategic Conservation Planning Using a Green Infrastructure Approach." Instructors from the USFWS National Conservation Training Center in West Virginia will be leading the course along with a variety of guest speakers from Alaska and the Pacific Northwest.

Green infrastructure is a term for an interconnected network of open space, such as forests, agricultural lands, farms, wetlands, wildlife corridors, and parks, which conserves a community's natural resources and ecological assets and provides associated benefits to people.

Authors Mark Benedict and Edward McMahon, in their book Green Infrastructure; Linking Landscapes and Communities, said "green infrastructure differs from conventional approaches to land conservation and natural resources protection because it looks at conservation in concert with land development and man-made infrastructure planning."

More than sixty people from Alaska government, nonprofit and business organizations will be attending the five day Green Infrastructure course in Wasilla. During the course, participants will learn the economic and environmental benefits of the Green Infrastructure approach and apply the principles as a class project to a section of the Big Lake watershed.

"We're fortunate in the MAT-SU to have so much country still with natural open space--one of the reasons people live and visit here," said Frankie Barker, MAT-SU Borough environmental planner. Through the Green Infrastructure approach, we can develop community and Borough plans that keep these green spaces, even while we're developing and growing our communities."

This course is very timely for the MAT-SU Borough because the MSB Planning Commission recently approved Green Infrastructure as a topic to be addressed in community plans. Many communities in the Borough (Big Lake, Willow, Point Mackenzie) are starting or revising their community plans. Green Infrastructure will be one of the topics that all of these communities will be addressing in their new comprehensive plans.