ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- The Chesapeake Bay Trust, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the state of Maryland unveiled an expanded Green Streets-Green Jobs-Green Towns grant initiative to help cities and towns in the Chesapeake Bay watershed accelerate greening efforts that improve watershed protection, community livability, and economic vitality. Building on the success of the initial round of grants, this public-private partnership will award more than $400,000 in 2012, double the funding from 2011.
"To meet tomorrow's challenges, we need to apply cost-effective solutions for improving the health of the Chesapeake Bay watershed and the economy of our communities," said EPA Regional Administrator Shawn M. Garvin. "Green streets and green infrastructure are investments that create jobs and save money while also providing multiple environmental and quality of life benefits. By helping towns accelerate their local greening efforts, we're moving ahead in creating an America built to last."
At a roundtable meeting in Forest Heights, Md., Garvin heard from a group of mayors whose towns were Green Streets-Green Jobs grant recipients last year. The mayors discussed best practices and lessons learned in developing green infrastructure and green streets, focusing on economic development, energy efficiency and building sustainable communities.
The grant program is open to local governments and non-profit organizations in urban and suburban watersheds in the Chesapeake Bay region of Maryland, D.C., Delaware, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia who are interested in pursuing green streets, green infrastructure, and green jobs as part of their community or watershed planning.
Grant assistance up to $35,000 is available for infrastructure project planning and design, and up to $100,000 for implementation and construction. The strongest proposals will incorporate innovative green infrastructure and best management practices that maximize cost-effectiveness.
Projects selected will enhance sustainable watershed protection and green infrastructure stormwater management through low impact development practices, renewable energy use, local livability and green job creation.
"Many small to mid-sized communities around the Chesapeake Bay watershed are looking for ways to boost local economies while also protecting water resources and expand greening efforts," said Allen Hance, executive director of the Chesapeake Bay Trust. "Building green streets and urban green infrastructure projects marry three important issues that these towns face: jobs, livability, and the environment."
In April 2011, the Chesapeake Bay Trust announced the first-ever grant recipients of this Green Streets-Green Jobs partnership. In total, 10 cities and towns were awarded $25,000-$35,000 grants to fund the planning and design of green infrastructure projects within the Chesapeake Bay and Anacostia watersheds.
"We have seen demand for green infrastructure funding accelerate as more and more jurisdictions understand the connection between green development and economic improvement," said John R. Griffin, secretary of Maryland's Department of Natural Resources. "These projects will stimulate the green jobs market and enable families to work where they live and play while also empowering communities to gain better access to restoration resources that support Chesapeake Bay protection."
SOURCE: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency