Task Force Recommends Hiring Nature Conservancy For Plan

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The Village's Environmental Task Force decided in July to recommend the Village hire the Nature Conservancy to develop an Environmental Strategic Plan for Ottawa Hills.

"It would be nice to have a framework of what to do next," task force member Ricky Becker said.

The proposal from the Nature Conservancy calls for the agency to develop a plan that "will integrate and align the Village's efforts with established local and regional planning and resource conservation efforts."

Specifically, the plan will "set goals and identify actionable projects ... within three priority areas as identified by the Environmental Task Force." Those areas include the river ecosystem health and water quality, flood plain habitat restoration, and Village environmental education and recreational opportunities.

The task force identified these as priorities nearly a year ago, and has partnered with several regional organizations to help address the priorities. In the past year the Village joined the Green Ribbon Initiative and has collaborated with the Toledo Zoo on a series of gardens featuring native plants in public areas in the Village.

Restoration and better utilization of the public parklands in the Village were two of the priorities that emerged during the Visioning process in 2015 and 2016. Residents who participated in the Visioning process put a high value on "walkability" and public spaces.

As part of the proposed strategic plan, over 12 months the Nature Conservancy would help the Village create a "Community Profile Assessment" that would identify the current condition of the Village, prioritize issues, develop a strategic plan to address those issues, and help the Village seek grant money to fund high priority environmental projects.

The Nature Conservancy would also help the Village devise community outreach initiatives including Adopt-A-Natural Area training days, work days, and educational meetings.

The proposal, "Envisioning a Greener Future for the Village of Ottawa Hills," will cost $30,000. The task force was unanimous in its decision to recommend Village council proceed with the contract.

"If we don't do this, I don't know what we are doing here," Task Force chairman and Councilman Jeff Gibbs said.

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