Summer is always a fun time to get away into Minnesota’s Great Outdoors. But this summer is also an important time in many local communities to start planning how to address conservation issues in the future.
In the west metro area, where I work, a number of cities are already working to update what are called their “comprehensive plans.” These plans are regularly required documents that outline how local communities plan to address a number of issues over the next decade. These plans are complex and have to do with all sorts of issues such as how to handle aging infrastructure and population growth. But for many communities conservation issues are a key part of the planning process as well.
In fact, just a few weeks ago I attended a public forum on how best the city of Bloomington can work to improve its handling of environmental issues in the city as a whole. The forum was part of an effort that the city is calling Forward 2040 which is a dedicated effort including an online survey and several town halls focused on gathering citizen input for Bloomington’s 20 year vision.
And the event was a huge success! There were over 50 Bloomington residents in attendance at Jefferson high school and through a series of group activities we were able to generate a host of new ideas on ways Bloomington can work to become more environmentally sustainable. Suggested ideas included installing a community solar garden, improving access to public transportation, installing more rain gardens to reduce storm water runoff, and starting a citizen’s conservation commission. All of these ideas were then organized into major themes and recorded by folks from the city’s planning department to help inform what the city’s final updated comprehensive plan will look like.
But what about if you don’t live in Bloomington? Well the good news is that this type of planning event is happening all over the state this summer. In fact, I recently attended a similar event in Brooklyn Park where ideas about improving water quality and connecting the city’s parks and trails were key topics discussed. If you’re interested in how your local community’s planning process might incorporate conservation issues go your cities’ website today to see if similar planning events are happening in your own community. Or check out the Met Council’s online resources about the compressive planning process in general.
After all, conservation takes real work and how our communities plan, or don’t plan, for it over the next decade will have a big impact on all Minnesotans.