In recent years, Indiana has experienced declines in natural assets that may endanger the state’s economy and its residents’ quality of life. Rapid loss of farmland to development, high levels of toxic discharges into water and high rates of adult obesity are just some of the challenges facing the region. Devastating flooding in 2008 caused $88 million in damage and highlighted the need for better green infrastructure to protect the region’s natural resources.

Our Role

To reverse the decline in quality as well as quantity of natural assets in a nine-county region of central Indiana, the Central Indiana Land Trust invited The Conservation Fund to guide the public through a green infrastructure planning process. The plan we helped develop, called Greening the Crossroads, involved stakeholders representing all levels of government, nonprofit organizations, foundations and community leaders.  

After completing an assessment of the natural resources for the nine counties, The Conservation Fund designed a green infrastructure network to help the Central Indiana Land Trust identify more than 300,000 acres of critical lands for conservation, raise awareness among residents of the value of these natural lands, and identify implementation strategies that will ensure a legacy of conservation for future generations.

Locally Designed Strategies, Local Implementation

Local partners are using Greening the Crossroads in their daily work, looking to its recommendations to inspire action and prioritize limited funds. Because green infrastructure is not a government program but a planning approach, the goal is to coordinate existing programs rather than start new ones. Some of the implementation steps being undertaken include:

  • Using Greening the Crossroads as a reference when state, county and municipal officials update comprehensive and park plans, or when decision makers undertake environmental reviews.
  • Encouraging landowners to keep parcels of forest, wetlands, scrubland or grasslands intact and undeveloped—and realize tax savings for their conservation efforts.
  • Using  Greening the Crossroads to identify and create new trails, bikeways and wildlife corridors.

Why This Project Matters

The implementation of the Greening the Crossroads vision can help central Indiana become more disaster resistant by increasing the amount of land available for natural stormwater retention, slowing runoff by replanting riparian areas with appropriate native vegetation and preventing the erosion of precious topsoil.

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