A good part of my job at Cuyahoga Soil and Water is spent driving around the County. I am always excited to see new business, housing projects, etc. that are expanding our economic base and providing new opportunities for the residents in Cuyahoga County. People far more creative than me come up with wonderful design ideas to catch the eye of a buyer or provide an environment that enhances worker productivity.
I think putting on our creative hats will be helpful as we enhance the places around us. Let’s face it most of Cuyahoga County is built out. Over the last 50+ years, the counties’ population has stayed about the same but we have spread out over the landscape and developed most of the County.
The land at the edges of the County (farther away from Downtown Cleveland) typically have lower costs. This has caused an out-migration of development and ultimately people. As a result, we are changing the face of the landscape. Areas that were once trees or agriculture are now buildings and parking lots.
As we increase the amount of hard surfaces, we lose many of the services that are provided by a natural landscape. Some of these services include: water infiltration (or soaking into the ground), uptake of nutrients by plants, trees or vegetation that take in carbon dioxide and produces oxygen, etc.
Thinking creatively, we can get the best of both worlds. One such tool is Conservation Development. This type of development is designed to minimize its impact on the natural environment. Much of our current landscape consists of areas that were left over from the first wave of development. These lands were much harder and/or more costly to develop. They often have sensitive features such as steep slopes, meandering stream corridors, or swampy wetlands. Conservation development often looks first at the natural services provided by the landscape and determines how these areas can be protected while still providing houses or buildings that can enhance and grow the community.
The natural and built environment can co-exist if we look at the landscape and how it will be developed in a different, innovative way.
To learn more about Conservation Development, follow this link to an article from Urban Land Magazine that explains some of the benefits of this type of development.
Blog Author: Carla Regener, Program Manager, Natural Resources