This action is requesting authorization for the formation and charge of an Appointed Community Advisory Committee (CAC) for the Ecological System Plan. This plan—jointly funded and managed by MPRB and the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization (MWMO)—is a critical step forward in the management of natural resources and public lands in the city and watershed. It will become a national model for improving the urban environment in the face of threats such as climate change, decreasing water quality, explosion of invasive species, increasing runoff, and fragmentation of habitat. The ecological system plan will:
· Compile, create, and illustrate city-wide ecological data,
· Craft a vision for natural resources and public lands within the watershed and city,
· Outline guiding principles for management, and
· Challenge the community to rethink the city around them-from the local neighborhood park to the Grand Rounds to backyards-in terms of ecological function, benefit, and health.
The Ecological System Plan (ESP) will set a framework for managing public parcels as pieces of a broader ecological system within the city, watershed, and region. It will:
· Consider how the urban forest can better contribute to water quality and climate change resilience;
· Consider how the more than 400,000 residents within the project area can have a positive effect on the region’s ecology and natural resources through habitat restoration, water management, and other practices on their own properties; and
· Will involve the community extensively, in order to reach beyond public lands.
The intent is that the Ecological System Plan will be followed by a series of detailed management plans designed to make specific site-based recommendations and determine a process for project prioritization. The ESP itself will make a deep investigation into the ecology of the city and watershed and will set a vision for ecologically-based management. The plan will describe a wholesale change in how public lands are operated and maintained-by linking decision-making and on-the-ground practices to ecological systems and to the real threats facing our natural resources.
The project will unfold in four general phases:
· Phase 1: Project Start-up. Between March and June of 2014, MPRB Planning and Environmental Stewardship staff will establish the various advisory groups, begin the public engagement process, and refine the project schedule.
· Phase 2: Learn with Experts. From April to October 2014, MPRB staff will work closely with research advisors, the project team, and hired consultants to research, map, and begin to communicate the fundamental ecological underpinnings of the city and watershed. This phase will focus on scientific fact as it relates to urban ecology.
· Phase 3: Learn with the Community. Beginning in August 2014 and stretching through January of 2015, MPRB staff will go into the community to learn about urban ecology from those who experience it every day. Overlap with Phase 2 will allow the experts and the community to together assist staff with gaining a deep understanding of both empirical and community-driven realities. This phase will feature community events and will significantly engage the appointed Community Advisory Committee (CAC).
· Phase 4: Envision with the Community. From February to October of 2015, MPRB staff will work with all advisory groups, consultants, and plan partners to develop the plan vision and communicate that vision in a broad and engaging way. This phase will feature innovative community engagement tools, such as “plan in the parks,” partnerships with arts institutions and neighborhood groups, and digital media.
It is expected that the Ecological System Plan will come before the board in a public hearing and for approval in October to December of 2015. On several occasions during the plan process and at the request of the Board, MPRB staff will present updates before the Board, for public information.
Staff believes that an appointed CAC is the most effective way to engage the community, receive consistent input, and fulfill the proposed CAC charge for this project.
MPRB General O&M
Mississippi Watershed Management Organization grant
Staff recommends authorizing the formation and charge of an appointed CAC for the Ecological System Plan with the following charge and composition.
The Ecological System Plan CAC shall serve primarily a community liaison role. MPRB staff expects community engagement to be a broad and evolving process throughout the nearly two-year duration of the plan. The CAC will be critical in bringing community ideas into the planning process and communicating the plan to the general public. Specifically, the CAC charge will be to:
· Become knowledgeable about the project and its scope and advise MPRB staff and consultants throughout the planning process.
· Contribute to broad community engagement by acting as primary contact for the CAC’s represented communities, and by enhancing the project’s interaction with a wide range of stakeholders.
· Assist with ongoing communication of technical plan elements to the general public.
Appointing entity or person No. of CAC appointees
MPRB Board President Wielinski (appoints chairperson) 1
Other Park Board Commissioners (1 appointment each) 8
Board of Directors of the
Mississippi Watershed Management Organization 3-5
Mayor of City of Minneapolis (Hodges) 1
President of the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners 1
President of the Minneapolis City Council 1
President of the Minneapolis School Board 1
Community Environmental Advisory Commission 1
This action is supported by the following vision and goal statements in the MPRB 2007-2020 Comprehensive Plan.
Vision Theme 1: Urban forests, natural areas, and waters that endure and captivate
Goal: Sound management techniques provide healthy, diverse, and sustainable natural resources.
Goal: Residents and visitors enjoy and understand the natural environment.
Goal: People and the environment benefit from expansion and protection of natural resources.
Goal: Knowledgeable stewards and partners generously support the system’s natural resources.