West Galveston Greenprint Report Released (TX)
Galveston, TX, 1/10/2007: The Trust for Public Land (TPL), a nonprofit land conservation organization, is set to present an action plan to implement recommendations developed from the West Galveston Island's Greenprint for Growth at Thursday's city council meeting. The results of the year-long process to define a community vision for future growth and local natural resource protection underscored the need for future land conservation efforts to increase focus on: protecting critical natural areas, mitigating coastal hazards, providing for increased recreational access, and working with developers and landowners to preserve the Island's local character and water quality.
These recommendations were developed by local citizens and experts to support the community's goals to protect the island's habitat land and shoreline, to provide drainage and flood management, to preserve the Island's local character, and to provide more access and connectivity to outdoor recreational opportunities.
The action plan calls for the community to work collaboratively to achieve the goals that local residents identified to balance growth and conservation. Specifically, the action plan calls on the community to:
- Do more community outreach and education about the Greenprint;
- Identify priority lands to conserve and pursue funding sources for land protection;
- Collaborate with prospective developers and homebuyers to encourage behaviors the community wants to see, and recognize those that do an exemplary job;
- Develop an initial segment of a future master trail system; and
- Establish a city task force to help implement the Greenprint's recommendations.
TPL has coordinated the West End Greenprint for Growth to help citizens and government officials prioritize lands to be conserved. The process identified 6,835 acres of the existing natural areas on the West End with high conservation values.
Sidney McClendon, a director of the West Galveston Island Property Owners Association, participated as a member of the Greenprinting stakeholder group. "As the Greenprint illustrates, there is a great deal of precious land to care for. Although some land may become available for purchase for outright public ownership, the increasing values of these lands means that the Galveston community must look for multiple funding opportunities. It's good for us that the Greenprint has brought the community together to design a vision that will be very attractive to potential conservation funders, and other new partners such as the General Land Office. The McAllis Point project is a good example of what can be accomplished, working with all sectors."
Greenprinting is a pioneering and award-winning Geographic Information Systems-based, or GIS-based, process that combines scientific natural resource data with community conservation priorities to guide future land conservation efforts. It gives local leaders the benefit of community input to make more informed decisions about growth and development. It is important to note that a Greenprinting analysis is not a tool to identify private land for taking. It is a guide for local governments to focus limited acquisition dollars on available land with high conservation value. The Trust for Public Land has completed 14 Greenprints and is in the process of completing 20 more analyses across the country.
"The Greenprint for Growth allows the Galveston community to be able to identify high priority parcels and see how that parcel ranks against the communities priorities, " says Galveston resident Dr. Alice Ann O'Donell, a local birder and environmentalist. "By using greenprinting as a strategic guide, local governments can focus limited public dollars to conserve valuable natural areas and acquire new parkland."
" A Greenprint for Growth provides an equitable, balanced analysis of community stakeholders' land conservation priorities, blending community values with scientific analysis to identify opportunities with the greatest public support," says Linda Shead, Program Director for the Trust for Public Land. "It identifies land that meets most or all of the conservation priorities, allowing governments to leverage limited land acquisition dollars to meet multiple conservation priorities."
Over the last year, neighborhood representatives, members of the business community, local government staff, and conservation advocates have worked together to identify the community's shared values for West Galveston Island. The community stakeholder group identified and prioritized the reasons to plan for balanced growth and development. The land conservation priorities were then represented with scientific data, and GIS software land conservation models were used to create a set of maps that capture the land conservation priorities in a visual representation. The maps indicate the relative conservation value of the West End's remaining natural areas through color-coding in shades of orange and red. The darker the red, the more the lands in those areas, if conserved, would meet multiple conservation priorities identified by the community stakeholder group.
The Greenprint for Growth also established recommendations on how to fund future land conservation, and brought together local and outside experts to work with community leaders during a "Strategy Exchange Week" in April to develop other solutions where land conservation would not be effective. The West Galveston Island Greenprint for Growth program was coordinated by The Trust for Public Land for the City of Galveston, with additional support by the Galveston Bay Estuary Program, the Harris and Eliza Kempner Fund, Moody Gardens, and others.