Friday, April 30, 2010

Promoting Tourism Through Local Waterfront Revitalization Programs

Promoting Tourism Through Local Waterfront Revitalization Programs
By Lorraine Cortez-Vazquez, New York Secretary of State

New York’s waterfronts have shaped our heritage and way of life and are a major focus of the state’s tourism industry. It is for this reason that the Department of State, through the Office of Coastal, Local Government and Community Sustainability, has worked in partnership with communities across the state to make the most of their waterfronts. Through the Local Waterfront Revitalization Program (LWRP), we have helped more than 300 waterfront communities strengthen their regional economies, provide recreational access and protect natural resources—making these communities attractive places to visit.

The LWRP is a voluntary program that enables communities to establish a vision for their waterfront. The program helps residents identify uses and projects that bring people to the waterfront, promote sound economic development and protect natural and cultural resources. A critical part of the LWRP is a solid strategy to achieve results, and our staff provides guidance and expertise to help communities create a step-by-step implementation program. This is backed up with funding through the Environmental Protection Fund Local Waterfront Revitalization Program (EPF LWRP), which provides the important financial assistance needed to make revitalization a reality.

Under the leadership of Governor Paterson, we’ve had many successes in waterfront revitalization. Among them, the city of Oswego and the village of Clayton are two prime examples of how the LWRP promotes tourism through waterfront revitalization.

The heritage and economy of the city of Oswego, located at the confluence of the Oswego River, Oswego Canal and Lake Ontario, have long been associated with shipping and related industrial and commercial facilities. With the decline of industry in past decades, vacant buildings and abandoned industrial lands began to dominate Oswego’s waterfront and downtown. Recognizing the need to reinvigorate the city, civic leaders prepared an LWRP, establishing a vision of the waterfront as the focus of the downtown—rather than its back door—to which recreational boaters and anglers and other tourists would flock.

By implementing this vision, the city has undergone a striking renaissance. With expertise from the Department of State and funding through the EPF LWRP totaling $1.6 million, the city has completed the Oswego Esplanade, a 1.5-mile-long promenade along the Oswego River and Canal adjacent to the downtown and constructed docks for recreational boaters. The esplanade hosts numerous festivals and events and brings people to the downtown; since its completion, 15 restaurants and four hotels have opened and commercial vacancies have significantly decreased. The annual Harborfest alone now draws 200,000 visitors to the downtown and provides $7.5 million in direct expenditures. In addition, the public docks have established the city as a major harbor center for boaters, and last year, 1,600 recreational boaters passed through the city. The city has also been able to better accommodate anglers and fishing derbies, which now account for over $42 million in tourism revenues for Oswego County.

The village of Clayton, located in Jefferson County along the St. Lawrence River, has enjoyed success through the LWRP by enhancing its tourism. Working with Department of State planners, the village constructed a dock for excursion boats, renovated the historic Opera House as a community facility and completed a Riverwalk that links water front sites and the downtown. The Opera House is now a cultural center and destination for visitors—hosting 170 events last year. All of these projects were funded through the EPF LWRP; in all, Clayton has received nine awards totaling $2.25 million.

Building on its success in bringing people to the waterfront, the village is now working to redevelop an eight acre former industrial site for a new hotel and a variety of other uses, continuing community revitalization with a focus on strengthening its tourism industry.

Tourism development and waterfront revitalization go hand in hand, and successes like these can be found statewide. The Local Waterfront Revitalization Program – along with the expertise of the Department of State and funding from the EPF LWRP – are keys to further developing the state’s tourism industry.

Counties are eligible to receive EPF LWRP funding, and a strong partnership with counties will help us to continue to expand these successes.

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Why Flowers Are Important On Main Street, Niagara Falls, NY

"In creating or changing a public space, small improvements help garner support along the way to the end result. They indicate visible change and show that someone is in charge. Petunias, which are low cost and easy to plant, have an immediate visible impact. On the other hand, they must be watered and cared for. Therefore, these flowers give a clear message that someone must be looking after the space." How To Change A Place Around, page 69

Flowers Are Important On Main Street, Niagara Falls, NY

"In creating or changing a public space, small improvements help garner support along the way to the end result. They indicate visible change and show that someone is in charge. Petunias, which are low cost and easy to plant, have an immediate visible impact. On the other hand, they must be watered and cared for. Therefore, these flowers give a clear message that someone must be looking after the space." How To Change A Place Around, page 69

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Creating A Sense of Place - How To Turn A Place Around Handbook

"When AN IDEA stretches beyond the reach of an organization, people are often told, "It can't be done." But when officials say, "It can't be done," often what they really mean is: "We've never done things that way before." How to Turn a Place Around pg 47 from Project for Public Spaces, Inc.
See also:
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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Bats: White-nose Syndrome

Information about Bats and White-nose Syndrome can be found HERE.

HighSpeed Rail - Yes, It's Coming. No, It's Not?

"Many people were confused and angry when NY received only $151 million to tweak the edges of a plan to run high-speed rail from NYC to Buffalo. Now even that little plan looks like its in danger of failing."
This observation came from THE ANSWER LADY. Click to read the rest.

Principles of Creating Great Places - Project for Public Spaces, Inc.

"The difference between creating a "place" versus a design when applied to any successful revitalization effort has underlying ideas:

The community is the expert
You are creating a place--not a design
You can't do it alone
They always say it can't be done
Money is not the issue

How to Turn a Place Around, pg 33

Monday, April 26, 2010

How To Turn A Place Around

"If cities are going to become better places to live, the quality of these places must be addressed directly and aggressively,using a very different approach than is being used today.

A typical scenario:

The current approach to planning cities is "project-driven" and "disciplined-based." It is where the project (that new stadium, courthouse or light rail system) is the reason for the action. Professionals develop alternative design schemes and take them to "the community," which reviews the project and provides input into which scheme should be selected. What's the problem with this approach? It does not begin with anything that the community has defined as an issue, and it does not start with a public space. This approach is top-down action versus bottom up. Basically it's upside down!

...This approach leaves the local residents with no opportunity to bring up issues they are concerned about...such as safety of their children As a result, important issues are left unaddressed." How to Turn a Place Around, pg 31.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

United States: Our Waterfoot Print

Water, water everywhere
Sid Perkins uncovers the amazing amount of "hidden water" in many consumer products.

By Sid Perkins
Web edition : Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

Next time you need a spoonful of sugar to help your medicine go down, be thankful for an ample water supply: It takes more than a gallon of water to produce that single heaping tablespoon of sweetness.

A couple of years ago, I wrote about how changing dietary habits in China in recent decades (largely resulting from increased living standards), along with a rising population, will increasingly strain that nation's water resources (SN: 1/19/08, p. 36). Now, a study published in the March 15 Environmental Science & Technology gives an outline of the United States' "water footprint" - and it's a big footprint indeed.

Take, for example, that sugar. It's jam-packed with "virtual water," a term that describes the water not actually included in a product but needed to manufacture the item. It takes more than 88 gallons (333 liters) of water to produce a 5-pound (2.3-kilogram) bag of sugar, says Chris Hendrickson, a civil engineer at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.

Hendrickson and his colleagues recently looked at water use in all sectors of the U.S. economy. That analysis, he notes, is the first comprehensive look at water use in the United States since the early 1980s, when the U.S. Census Bureau stopped gathering such data from U.S. industries.

In 2002, water use in the United States was around 140 quadrillion gallons, an amount more than 90 percent of the volume the Mississippi River dumps into the Gulf of Mexico in an average year. Generating electrical power was responsible for nearly one-half of that year's water use, and irrigation used more than one-third. Residential uses of water - such as bathing, cooking, washing the car and watering the lawn - accounted for only 6.4 percent of the total, Hendrickson says.

To some extent, the new study "double counts" water use for power generation because that water isn't truly consumed and can be reused, says Hubert H.G. Savenije, a hydrologist at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands. "Agriculture is by far the largest user," he adds. "The amount of water used in industrial processes is peanuts compared to that present in produce."

The team's new analysis bears that out. Take, for example, the manufacturing of semiconductors. That process, which requires about 8.5 gallons of water to produce a dollar's worth of computer chips, is generally considered to be water-intensive, says Hendrickson. But it takes a whopping 1,400 gallons of water to grow and process a dollar's worth of grain. You'd have to draw 1,300 gallons from the spigot to grow and process a dollar's worth of cotton.

Of the top 15 water-using sectors of the U.S. economy (measured by how much water is needed to produce $1 worth of product; see table), 13 are related to food. And one of the other two sectors is cotton farming, an often heavily irrigated crop.

Top 15 users of water in the United States, per dollar of economic output

Economic SectorGallons Required
Grain farming,400
Cotton farming, 1,300
Sugar cane and beet farming, 830
Tree nut farming, 500
Fruit farming, 480
Flour milling and malt manufacturing 470
Power generation and supply, 450
Wet corn milling, 380
Beet sugar manufacturing,330
Vegetable and melon farming, 280
Other animal food manufacturing, 270
Sugar cane mills and refining, 270
Poultry and egg production, 250
Dog and cat food manufacturing, 200
Cattle ranching and farming, 190
Source: Blackhurst, Hendrickson and Vidal,in Environmental Science & Technology

"This study affirms that if we care about saving water, we need to look at our consumption patterns," says Sandra Postel, director of the Global Water Policy Project, based in Los Lunas, N.M. Studies she's familiar with suggest that it takes about 634 gallons of water to produce the beef in a single hamburger, and about 2,900 gallons to produce the cotton in a single pair of jeans.

"Everything around us has water embedded in it," she notes. "Everything we eat, and everything we buy."

And often, like Perrier, that water is imported. Like carbon dioxide emissions (SN: 1/16/10, p. 15), water use can be outsourced. About 18 percent of the virtual water in agricultural products and about 24 percent of that in industrial products consumed in the United States between 1997 and 2001 was imported, says Arjen Hoekstra, a water policy analyst at the University of Twente in the Netherlands.

Overall, though, the United States is a net exporter of virtual water, he notes. Each year between 1997 and 2001, on average, the U.S. exported more than 53 cubic kilometers of virtual water, largely due to foreign sales of its agricultural goods.

NOTICE:In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed, without profit, for research and educational purposes only.

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Saturday, April 24, 2010

Cornell Lab of Ornithology Offers Digital Library of Warbler Songs

Carry a Tune with Digital Warbler Songs
Sounds from Cornell Lab of Ornithology play on any MP3 device

Ithaca, NYA compilation of 310 songs and calls for 57 species of warblers is now available from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Macaulay Library—the largest archive of wildlife sounds in the world. Originally released in 1985 as an LP record, Songs of the Warblers of North America is the most comprehensive audio guide to warblers available anywhere. The newly digitized version can be used on any device that plays MP3 files and is $14.99

“We received numerous requests for this digital release,” said Macaulay Library audio curator Greg Budney. “Knowing the songs of warblers really enhances people’s ability to find and identify dozens of stunning warbler species.”

Multiple sounds for each species showcase the variability in warbler vocalizations, enabling listeners to recognize the essential qualities of each species’ song while also appreciating the variability within and among species. Selected examples are available for listening 

The MP3 files are accompanied by photos of each warbler for those who download the material to a device that can show images. A PDF copy of the booklet that accompanied the original album provides information on the location and date for each recording and is included in the download.
This guide to warbler songs and calls is a collaboration of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, theBorror Laboratory of Bioacoustics, and Ontario Nature.

Contact: Pat Leonard, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, (607) 254-2137,

Friday, April 23, 2010

The Postcard Project

1840 (UK)Image via Wikipedia

 I found this SITE the other day:

"The Postcard Project is a way of giving everyone in the world a piece of art, all they have to do is ask.

There is no catch. 

What she will promise you, is that if you contact her and send a valid mailing address she will create and mail to you a single postcard that is an original piece of art created by her, alone, as well the message on the back will be written and signed by her. She also promises that each postcard sent will be posted on her Blog (with no personal information about you of course!)  If you would like to reimburse her for the postcard she would love it if you would comment on the blog when you get your card and tell her what you think of it."

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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A 21st Century Strategy for America's Great Outdoors

Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release 

April 16, 2010


SUBJECT: A 21st Century Strategy for America's Great Outdoors

Americans are blessed with a vast and varied natural heritage. From mountains to deserts and from sea to shining sea, America's great outdoors have shaped the rugged independence and sense of community that define the American spirit. Our working landscapes, cultural sites, parks, coasts, wild lands, rivers, and streams are gifts that we have inherited from previous generations. They are the places that offer us refuge from daily demands, renew our spirits, and enhance our fondest memories, whether they are fishing with a grandchild in a favorite spot, hiking a trail with a friend, or enjoying a
family picnic in a neighborhood park. They also are our farms, ranches, and forests -- the working lands that have fed and sustained us for generations. Americans take pride in these places, and share a responsibility to preserve them for our children and grandchildren.

Today, however, we are losing touch with too many of the places and proud traditions that have helped to make America special. Farms, ranches, forests, and other valuable natural resources are disappearing at an alarming rate. Families are spending less time together enjoying their natural surroundings. Despite our conservation efforts, too many of our fields are becoming fragmented, too many of our rivers and streams are becoming polluted, and we are losing our connection to the parks, wild places, and open spaces we grew up with and cherish. Children, especially, are spending less time outside running and playing, fishing and hunting, and connecting to the outdoors just down the street or outside of town.

Across America, communities are uniting to protect the places they love, and developing new approaches to saving and enjoying the outdoors. They are bringing together farmers and ranchers,
more land trusts, recreation and conservation groups, sportsmen, community park groups, governments and industry, and people from all over the country to develop new partnerships and innovative
programs to protect and restore our outdoors legacy. However, these efforts are often scattered and sometimes insufficient.

The Federal Government, the Nation's largest land manager, has a responsibility to engage with these partners to help develop a conservation agenda worthy of the 21st Century. We must look to the private sector and nonprofit organizations, as well as towns, cities, and States, and the people who live and work in them, to identify the places that mean the most to Americans, and leverage the support of the Federal Government to help these community-driven efforts to succeed. Through these partnerships, we will work to connect these outdoor spaces to each other, and to reconnect Americans to them.

For these reasons, it is hereby ordered as follows:

Section 1. Establishment.
(a) There is established the America's Great Outdoors Initiative (Initiative), to be led by the Secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) and implemented in coordination with the agencies listed in section 2(b) of this memorandum. The Initiative may include the heads of other executive branch departments, agencies, and offices (agencies) as the President may, from time
to time, designate.

(b) The goals of the Initiative shall be to:
(i) Reconnect Americans, especially children, to America's rivers and waterways, landscapes of national significance, ranches, farms and forests, great parks, and coasts and beaches by exploring a variety of efforts, including:
(A) promoting community-based recreation and conservation, including local parks, greenways,
beaches, and waterways;

(B) advancing job and volunteer opportunities related to conservation and outdoor recreation;

(C) supporting existing programs and projects that educate and engage Americans in our history,
culture, and natural bounty.

(ii) Build upon State, local, private, and tribal priorities for the conservation of land, water, wildlife, historic, and cultural resources, creating corridors and connectivity across these outdoor spaces, and for enhancing neighborhood parks; and determine how the Federal Government can best advance
those priorities through public private partnerships and locally supported conservation strategies.

(iii) Use science-based management practices to restore and protect our lands and waters for future

Sec. 2. Functions. The functions of the Initiative shall include:
(a) Outreach. The Initiative shall conduct listening and learning sessions around the country where land and waters are being conserved and community parks are being established in innovative ways. These sessions should engage the full range of interested groups, including tribal leaders, farmers and
ranchers, sportsmen, community park groups, foresters, youth groups, businesspeople, educators, State and local governments, and recreation and conservation groups. Special attention should be given to bringing young Americans into the conversation. These listening sessions will inform the reports
required in subsection (c) of this section.

(b) Interagency Coordination. The following agencies shall work with the Initiative to identify existing resources and align policies and programs to achieve its goals:
(i) the Department of Defense;
(ii) the Department of Commerce;
(iii) the Department of Housing and Urban
(iv) the Department of Health and Human Services;
(v) the Department of Labor;
(vi) the Department of Transportation;
(vii) the Department of Education; and
(viii) the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

(c) Reports. The Initiative shall submit, through the Chair of the CEQ, the following reports to the President:
(i) Report on America's Great Outdoors. By November 15, 2010, the Initiative shall submit
a report that includes the following:
(A) a review of successful and promising nonfederal conservation approaches;
(B) an analysis of existing Federal resources and programs that could be used to complement
those approaches;
(C) proposed strategies and activities to achieve the goals of the Initiative; and
(D) an action plan to meet the goals of the Initiative.

The report should reflect the constraints in resources available in, and be consistent with, the Federal
budget. It should recommend efficient and effective use of existing resources, as well as opportunities to leverage nonfederal public and private resources and nontraditional conservation programs.

(ii) Annual reports. By September 30, 2011, and September 30, 2012, the Initiative shall submit
reports on its progress in implementing the action plan developed pursuant to subsection (c)(i)(D) of
this section.

Sec. 3. General Provisions.
(a) This memorandum shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of any necessary appropriations.

(b) This memorandum does not create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.

(c) The heads of executive departments and agencies shall assist and provide information to the Initiative, consistent with applicable law, as may be necessary to carry out the functions of the Initiative. Each executive department and agency shall bear its own expenses of participating in the

(d) Nothing in this memorandum shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect the functions of the Director of the OMB relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.

(e) The Chair of the CEQ is authorized and directed to publish this memorandum in the Federal Register.

# # #

Transmitted on behalf of Laurie Davies Adams by~

R. Thomas (Tom) Van Arsdall, Director of Public Affairs
   Pollinator Partnership

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Trails The Green Way for America Symposium - The Tennessee Riverwalk Revitalized Chattanooga

20th American Trails National Symposium
Chattanooga, Tennessee ~ November 14-17, 2010

Trails: The Green Way for America
This symposium's theme evokes the benefit of trails to America’s economy and environment. As we evolve toward a green economy, trails are the way for outdoor recreation and alternative transportation. Trails provide access and connections to many of this nation’s most incredible green spaces: parks, forests, and wildlands. Trails are a critical component of green infrastructure within communities, tying homes to businesses, schools, and workplaces, and empowering clean human-powered mobility. Trails support the new American dream which is built upon environmental and economic efficiency. Trails are, very simply, the green way for America.

Tennessee Riverwalk helped spur revitalization in Chattanooga.
photo of huge steel bridges

Now into its second decade of development (initial segment opened May 1989), the Tennessee Riverwalk will form a 20-mile greenway through Chattanooga. It stretches from the Chickamauga Dam to downtown and out to Moccasin Bend, recently designated the country’s newest national park and very first archeological district. Along the way, the trail links parks, green spaces, museums, public art, shops, fishing piers, boating facilities, and miles of scenic Riverwalk along the Tennessee River.

The Riverwalk experience begins at Ross’s Landing Plaza, a novel combination of landscaping, art, and architecture creating a captivating public space that serves as the setting for the Tennessee Aquarium and the Chattanooga Visitors Center. The design incorporates exhibits, artifacts, and legends from Chattanooga’s history and geography.

The Riverwalk extends out over the river and up on to the Walnut Street Bridge, a steel truss bridge built in 1890 that has been renovated into one of the world’s longest pedestrian bridges. The bridge is perfect for strolling by day or by moonlight, and connects downtown to the numerous shops and restaurants along the north shore. The north shore is also home to Coolidge Park, which honors Charles B. Coolidge, a World War II Medal of Honor recipient. It features an antique carousel furnished with animals carved by students of Chattanooga’s Horsin’ Around carousel animal carving school. Children can cool off in the interactive water fountains featuring large animals.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Today's Word - Circus Animals

TODAY'S WORD ON JOURNALISM . . . Wednesday, April 7, 2010
WORD archives, commentary and reader discussion at

Circus Animals

"When the politicians complain that TV turns the proceedings into a circus, it should be made clear that the circus was already there, and that TV has merely demonstrated that not all the performers are well trained."
--Edward R. Murrow (1908-1965), U.S. broadcast journalist & newscaster (Thanks to alert WORDster Marc Davidson)

Word For The Day

Thursday, Apr. 8
Make visible what, without you, might perhaps never have been seen.
Robert Bresson

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Wild Ones Niagara and Sense of Place

Niagara Falls Shoe HorseImage via Wikipedia

Wild Ones Niagara Falls and The River Region Chapter Mission:
Create in Niagara Falls (NY) and the Niagara River region a sense of place through grassroots partnerships, advocacy, and education about regional native plants and natural landscaping with a focus on the restoration, preservation and the protection of the botanically unique habitats of Niagara Falls and the Niagara gorge

Sense of Place Defined: One of the most difficult challenges every city and its planning department has to face is how to create and maintain a unique sense of place that not only supports and encourages economic development while it maintains its commitment to established businesses and their financial health, but also considers how to protect the quality of life of its residents, the people who make up the fabric of the city's neighborhoods.

Creating a sense of place is an intangible weave of culture (stories, art, memories, beliefs, histories) and the tangible physical components of an area: its rivers, woods, monuments, architectural styles, its pathways and its views. Place also embraces our personal relationships and those who think like us, kindred spirits.

A sense of place is a social phenomenon dependent on human engagement, feelings. This attachment to place, this sense of feeling, is derived from the natural environment, but it also includes a mix of natural and cultural features in the landscape. More importantly, a sense of place is strongly enhanced "through modes of codification in ordinances aimed at protecting, preserving, and enhancing places felt to be of value (such as the "World Heritage Site" designations used around the world, the English "Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty" controls and the like.") Creating and maintaining a sense of place in prosperous times is a complex balancing act. In financially challenging times, this balance is crucial and pivotal.

Wild Ones Niagara Falls and River Region website can be found HERE.
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Understanding Sense of Place

Cover of "Discovering the Vernacular Land...Cover of Discovering the Vernacular Landscape

Understanding Sense of Place by Nathaniel James, Spring, 2001 Link to document can be found HERE.

Defining sense of place
Sense of place is important in any discussion of land conservation and growth management because sprawl development tends to eliminate unique features of the landscape. This is clearly recognized by proponents of smart growth. As Daniels writes, "Community design is about place making. The physical layout of the community can and should connect people with each other, with the community, and with the surrounding countryside." (1)

Sense of place may appear a fuzzy or purely subjective concept, but there are clear definitions that begin to narrow its focus. The National Trust for Historic Preservation offers a straightforward approach, calling sense of place:

Those things that add up to a feeling that a community is a special place, distinct from anywhere else. (2)

Kent Ryden provides a more textured response that recognizes the necessity of inhabiting place:

A sense of place results gradually and unconsciously from inhabiting a landscape over time, becoming familiar with its physical properties, accruing history within its confines. (3)

Finally, the well-known geographer J. B. Jackson offers this elaboration:

It is place, permanent position in both the social and topographical sense, that gives us our identity. (4)

From these slightly different definitions, it can be seen that sense of place is primarily about the human landscape, our legacy of impact on the land, and, perhaps most importantly, memory. A number of other characteristics about sense of place might also be enumerated. Sense of place is:

* Difficult to quantify and abstract — place is frequently referred to as "fuzzy" or difficult to locate geographically. (5) In addition, one definition of place may not transfer across political or geographic borders.
* Comprised of natural features, patterns of human settlement, and social relationships — the connection between people is a key component of place.
* Determined by local knowledge — while it may be possible to broadly describe place as an outsider, intimate understandings of place are best expressed by natives.
* Embodied in folklore, personal narrative, and amateur history — intimate descriptions of place rarely show up in "official" documents, that is, those prepared by government or bureaucratic agencies.

Inventorying place
Descriptions of place can take many forms, but one of the most effective, with respect to municipal planning and smart growth, is an inventory of cultural resources. A comprehensive profile of the cultural landscape aids not only in preservation of existing resources, but can provide direction for future growth. Throughout this study, cultural resources can be thought of as comprising historic buildings, sites, and landscapes; scenic roads and viewsheds; and special places that have local cultural significance.

There are a number of guides to understanding and improving land use practices in rural communities. The National Trust for Historic Preservation, Scenic America, and individual publishers such as Island Press have produced manuals for documenting and preserving cultural resources. These guides advocate conducting environmental inventories that detail both natural and cultural features. (6) In Rhode Island, the Watershed Approach includes provisions for the organization of local Watershed Action Teams to monitor stream quality and perform community assessments. (7)

Typically, volunteers are advised to break into small groups, go out into their neighborhood with maps and perhaps cameras, and document the areas with visual, historic, or personal significance. Maps, pictures, and descriptions recorded on inventory forms are then compiled in either report or poster format. The data collected is usually qualitative. Local residents are attempting to document the features of the built and natural landscape that make their community unique and appealing. These techniques can be performed and led by volunteers and the costs are minimal. The quality of the data depends on the consistency of collection, the number of individuals involved in preparing the inventory, and the number of distinct resources surveyed. As Harker and Natter write, “This is not a science; it is an art. The bottom line is that the scenic quality of your area can add greatly to the quality of your life." (8)

The typical product of these efforts is hand drawn maps and reports. The manuals encourage the use of multimedia (usually images) representations of data and lengthy description. Because there are no guidelines for collecting data to be entered into a GIS, the development of GIS data layers based on citizen generated data is difficult.

Sense of place in South Kingstown
The New England landscape has a sense of place rooted in a long history of settlement. South Kingstown's Comprehensive Plan recognizes the importance of place in contributing the to Town's quality of life:

One of the major positive influences on the Town's historic settlement pattern has been it's strong sense of place. Much of this "sense" derives from those features that contribute to it, including the Town's small identifiable villages, New England architecture, natural and scenic areas, and agricultural tradition. As overdevelopment can ruin the Town's small character, it can also disturb and even eliminate its sense of place. (9)

Despite the language in the Comprehensive Plan, South Kingstown did not begin an inventory of place drawing on local knowledge until 1998 when the Coastal Resources Center at the University of Rhode Island initiated a project with the Planning Department to develop an inventory of important cultural features. The goal of the project was to involve residents in a proactive planning effort, the kind that is not frequently undertaken by an overworked planning board. The report, An Inventory and Analysis of the Village and Rural Qualities of South Kingstown, was produced by more than 140 residents over several months. According to one of the project's coordinators, community participation was overwhelming. (10)

Teams of residents were directed to map the boundaries of village, rural, and other areas as well as inventory the defining features of each district. The resulting report runs over 150 pages and includes maps from each of the eleven districts of the town. Although the Inventory represented one largest community planning efforts in the Town, little has come of the effort. With the help of an intern from the University of Rhode Island, the Planning Department produced a composite GIS coverage of the areas identified as village, rural, and other. However, none of the individual sites were mapped in the Town's GIS. The lengthy descriptions were not analyzed and the results of the report have not been included in amendments to the Comprehensive Plan.

1. Daniels, T. (1999). When City and County Collide. Washington, D.C.: Island Press: 87.
2. Stokes, S. M., Watson, A. E. and Mastran, S. S. (1997). Saving America’s Countryside: A Guide to Rural Conservation (2nd ed.). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press: 192.
3. Ryden, K. C. (1993). Mapping the Invisible Landscape. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press: 38.
4. Jackson, J. B. (1984). Discovering the Vernacular Landscape. New Haven: Yale University Press: 152.
5. Schroeder, P. (1997). GIS in Public Participation Settings. Retrieved 24 April 2001 from the World Wide Web:
Parsons, E. (1994). Visualization Techniques for Qualitative Spatial Information. Fifth European Conference and Exhibition on Geographical Information Systems. Retrieved 20 April 2001 from the World Wide Web:
6. Stokes, S. M., Watson, A. E. and Mastran, S. S. (1997). Saving America’s Countryside: A Guide to Rural Conservation (2nd ed.). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.
O Say Can You See: A Visual Awareness Tool Kit for Communities (1999). Washington, D.C.: Scenic America.
Harker, D. F. and Natter, E. U. (1995). Where We Live: A Citizen’s Guide to Conducting a Community Environmental Inventory. Washington, D.C.: Island Press.
Copps, D. (1995). Views from the Road. Washington, D.C.: Island Press.
7. Kerr, M. (2000). Assessing the Character of Your Community.
8. Harker, D. F. and Natter, E. U. (1995). Where We Live: A Citizen’s Guide to Conducting a Community Environmental Inventory.
9. Comprehensive Community Plan (1992). South Kingstown, RI: Planning Department.: 37.
10. Personal communication with Steve Olsen, 9 March 2001.

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Q.&A.: Transportation Secretary on Biking, Walking and ‘What Americans Want’ - Green Inc. Blog -

Q.&A.: Transportation Secretary on Biking, Walking and ‘What Americans Want’ - Green Inc. Blog -

Click the title for access to the article.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Quote of the Day

Children have an amazing fresh ability to see clearly and to state the obvious. Here are two young viewpoints found on the Niagara Heritage Partnership's (NHP) website. NHP  proposes the region remove the Robert Moses Parkway between Niagara Falls, NY and Lewiston, NY, restore the space ecologically as the means to revitalizting the local economy and tourism. Reprinted with permission. Click HERE to view and sign the Niagara Heritage Partnership petition.

"I'm only 9; why do we have to sign a petition to fix this? just do it."

"I'm only 15, i don't know the economy, i don't know the beatles, all i know is this is ugly, dangerous and nobody can really explain to me why this ugly thing exists."

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Niagara Falls Recommends RMP Removal - A Restored Gorge Rim

Niagara falls panorama from Canadian sideImage via Wikipedia

City of Niagara Falls USA
Niagara River Greenway Vision and Project Proposals
Prepared for the Niagara River Greenway Commission
Niagara River Greenway Planning Process
July 2006 Page 2, Page 3

“Achieving” Niagara Falls’ Greenway Vision: Introduction
Remarks by Mayor Vincenzo V. Anello to the Local Government Advisory Committee of the NIAGARA RIVER GREENWAY COMMISSION

Monday July 17, 2006
The City of Niagara Falls concurs with the New York State Legislative findings and intent with regards to the establishment of the Niagara River Greenway, including its definition of “greenway” to mean “a linear system of state and local parks and conservation areas linked by a network of multi use trails” and its purpose to redefine the Niagara riverfront through increasing landside access to the river; creating complementary access to the greenway from the river; augmenting economic revitalization efforts, and celebrating the region's heritage.

While the City and the County currently await designation of the Niagara River corridor by the US Congress as a National Heritage Area, there can be no doubt that the corridor hasplayed a significant role in the history of the Niagara Frontier and of the United States and Canada. Therefore, the Niagara River communities in particular should take all necessary steps now that will continue to define the western New York experience into the twenty-first century as one of the world’s preeminent places of nature. Niagara Falls is a National Natural Landmark under state stewardship for more than a century that draws more than fourteen million visitors from throughout the world to the region each year. For just as long, if not longer, there have been those who have expressed a vision for the Niagara River corridor, that of a necklace of open space and conservation areas spread along the river. With many areas no longer being used for heavy industry, it is now time to complete that vision.

The Niagara River corridor is of unique environmental, cultural, and economic importance to New York. It is a shared connection of communities and ecologies from Lake Eire to Lake Ontario. Along the corridor, many “traditional” parks have been established including eleven state parks and fourteen local parks. New York State's only National Scenic Byway, the Seaway Trail, runs through the entire corridor. Greenway Planning is our opportunity to advance a non-traditional concept of park that transcends survey boundaries to encompass whole municipalities as part of a broader public strategy for social, economic, as well as, environmental regeneration of our Buffalo-Niagara region. Therefore, in areas that are not
contiguous with the waterfront, programmatic linkages should be used by the Greenway
Commission to establish consistency with its legislative purposes and intent.

Niagara Falls and Buffalo while at the heart of the river corridor, much of their waterfront has in the past been dedicated to industrial uses. Therefore, as these uses continue to wane, it is Niagara Falls and Buffalo in particular that should be at the nexus of any regional effort to redefine the Niagara River corridor and revitalize the regional economy.

Therefore, the City of Niagara Falls, the first municipality to propose a system of multi-jurisdictional riverfront recreational trails (1992), conduct a regional visioning exercise on the future of Niagara Falls and the region (1997), and propose a regional program of waterfront heritage interpretive venues or tourist “Discovery Centers” (2002), is hereby prepared to support any Greenway Commission plan that focuses geographically on the Niagara River and its adjacent tributaries, and specifically includes “identified” upland natural, open space, recreational, and scenic resources combined with a policy toward greenway land-management
that is; in the first instance, designed to preserve and add to these resources, beginning with those resources that are of the highest and best ecological and/or recreational value regionally, and; in the second instance is designed to repair damage done to the land by former industrial or commercial waterfront uses.

Page 4

After decades of technical planning and public discussion, Niagara Falls is on a firm foundation for immediate action. We already know what needs to be done and we are doing it.

The Niagara River Greenway Commission Plan should base its efforts on the best ideas from dozens of different plans, reports, studies and proposals for Buffalo, Niagara Falls, and the Niagara River waterfront and craft an aggressive strategy to help Niagara Falls assume more central role in the economic resurgence of the entire region. City projects put forth in our draft LWRP or in our award-winning Achieving Niagara Falls’ Future: Waterfront Agenda (on which most of this report is based), or the Niagara Falls Strategic Master Plan are feasible, have citizen support and, taken together, will have transformative impact for the region generally, but most noticeably in the City of Niagara Falls.

These projects deserve to be developed and implemented. The strategy that connects these projects is straightforward and powerful. It aims to achieve the development of economy,environment, and community together and it is driven by three principles:

❑ First, re-connect Niagara Falls – its downtown and neighborhoods alike – with the
Niagara River waterfront.
❑ Second, repair and improve both the urban and natural environments for the
benefit of residents and visitors alike.
❑ Third, develop the means to tell the compelling stories of the city and region to
build the visitor industry and create meaning for those who live here.
These principles provide a strategic framework that organizes the City of Niagara Falls waterfront projects. The principles also offer a means to evaluate and prioritize all of the projects and proposals that may follow, and therefore, should serve to guide continuing planning being carried out on behalf of all WNY communities by the Greenway Commission.

Two major projects already have a broad base of public and private support. One is to complete the installation of the waterfront trail system from city line to city line. The other is to mitigate the negative impact of the Robert Moses Parkway on waterfront access, urban environment, and regional image. Completing the trail and mitigating the parkway will be important steps toward making visible the fact that Niagara is a great place to live, work, and visit.

1. Bike and pedestrian trail system
Direct access by pedestrians to the Niagara River waterfront is the foundation of this strategy. Therefore, as soon as possible, implement existing plans for a pedestrian and bike way to run continuously along the entire length of the Niagara Falls waterfront. It is important to make sure that the path is well connected to adjacent neighborhoods and the city street pattern for easy local access.

2. Naturalize Niagara River shoreline and gorge
The waterfront should be natural and beautiful. Therefore, areas adjacent to the river, including the rim of the gorge, the Reservation, and the upper river stream bank, should be naturalized as much as possible through removal of paved surfaces and new plantings of trees and native plants. This will improve the environment and enhance the quality of views. It is acceptable to mow where needed for picnickers and other users, but the use of natural plants will cut maintenance costs and add to the enjoyment of users. Naturalizing the gorge rim will also help strengthen the buffer between city and fragile gorge ecosystems.

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Thought of the Day

Dissatisfaction and discouragement are not caused by the absence of things but the absence of vision." — Anonymous

"The future belongs to those who see possibilities before they become obvious." — John Scully

Saturday, April 3, 2010

New York's Seaway Trail preened as world-class birding region -

New York's Seaway Trail preened as world-class birding region -

USAToday lists Niagara Gorge as premiere birding destination.

The Seaway Trail has the potential to rival renowned birding destinations such as Cape May, N.J., Chesapeake Bay's Delmarva Peninsula, and the World Birding Center in the lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas, said Kara Lynn Dunn, publicist for the Seaway Trail.

"A lot of tourist locations are chasing this fast-growing market," said Pete Dunne, author of seven bird books and director of New Jersey Audubon's Cape May Observatory. One reason birding is growing in popularity is the aging of backpacking Baby Boomers, who are looking for a less strenuous way to engage in the natural world, Dunne said.

For tourism marketers, this is a valuable demographic.
An estimated 47.7 million birders in the United States spent about $45.7 billion on wildlife-watching in 2006, said Richard Aiken, a natural resources economist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service who studies the economic value of wildlife-related recreation.

You can read the rest of the article HERE.

Friday, April 2, 2010

A Message From the Natural Resources Defense Council

This is our moment video from the Natural Resources Defense Council can be accessed HERE.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Humor From the Project For Public Spaces Blog

A Waterfront Project Opens Up The Debate About the Soul Of A City

QUOTE OF THE DAY  from the Project for Public Spaces: "A waterfront project opens up the debate about the soul of a city for all to see." (

Making the transition from working waterfront to public gathering place is full of challenges, be it providing public access or identifying the activities best suited to a particular community and place. Today, more and more cities and towns are boldly taking on these challenges.

Seizing the Opportunity of Urban Waterfronts
A waterfront project for a town resembles a blank canvas for an artist. Anything is possible, including a masterpiece. Because it is so central to the life of that community, representing so many competing claims about its history and where it is now headed, there's an opportunity for a breakthrough in how people in that place think of themselves. Such a project raises questions about what a city is and what it needs most. It opens up the debate about the soul of a city for all to see. Will the city stay on the familiar course of standard-issue condos, office towers and road construction, or will it boldly assert community values--and maintain the essential publicness of the waterfront--by creating a gathering spot that attracts and inspires us?

Do You Know Your Water Footprint?

Close-up of tap waterImage via Wikipedia
This article can also be viewed HERE.
If you think your morning cup of joe only has 12 ounces (35 centiliters) of water in it, you're sorely mistaken-it has closer to 40 gallons (150 liters). Conservation scientists say it's time consumers become aware of the quantity and source of water that goes into growing, manufacturing and shipping food.

Concerns over greenhouse gas emissions have vaulted the term "carbon footprint" into mainstream vernacular. Now, by promoting the concept of a "water footprint" with the goal of including it on product labels, researchers are hoping to draw similar attention to how drastically we're draining our most precious resource. As the use of a footprint to gauge water use gains popularity, however, researchers are struggling to reach a consensus on how best to measure that footprint so the public understands its full impact.

As currently defined, a product's water footprint is an inventory of the total amount of water that goes into its manufacture. For that cup of coffee, for instance, most of the 40 gallons flow either into watering coffee plants or cooling the roasters during processing.

"Most people have no idea how much fresh water they're consuming," says Brad Ridoutt, a water conservation specialist from Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. According to Ridoutt, food and energy production account for nearly 90 percent of the world's fresh water consumption.

The water footprint is designed to help consumers and businesses understand just how much water is required to make products like a cotton T-shirt or a can of corn. But according to Ridoutt, just counting gallons is not enough, because consumers also value where that water came from. Corn grown in Minnesota, for example, depends on rainwater, which is abundant and not otherwise used by people. But in Arizona corn crops depend on scarce reservoir water also used for drinking, hygiene and other consumer needs. The current definition of the water footprint doesn't address these discrepancies.

In a study published in the February issue of the journal Global Environmental Change, Ridoutt proposed a strategy that takes the original location of the water into account in evaluating the environmental impact of its use in product manufacturing.

To illustrate his ideas, Ridoutt chose two common household food items: an 18-ounce (53-centiliter) jar of Dolmio pasta sauce and a small bag of peanut M&M's. For the pasta sauce, the volume of water needed to grow the tomatoes, sugar, garlic and onions added up to 52 gallons (197 liters). For the M&M's, the total volume going into all the ingredients was a whopping 300 gallons (1,135 liters).

Comparing these conventional water footprint values would lead one to think the bag of M&M's takes a far worse toll on freshwater resources. But that isn't the complete picture, Ridoutt says.

Because tomato plants are typically grown in hot, dry climates, they are watered using irrigation systems that draw from the same locations as human drinking water. On the other hand, the cocoa and peanuts in M&M's are grown in more temperate regions, where the crops absorb rainwater directly from the ground. Taking location into account, Ridoutt says, drastically changes how you think about the water going into your food. According to his calculations, the pasta sauce is about 10 times more likely than the M&M's to contribute to water scarcity.

Ridoutt is not the only one trying to redefine the water footprint. Conservationists around the world are trying to figure out how to best include environmental impact in the footprints so they can be incorporated into food labels. The International Organization for Standardization now has a project underway to tackle this problem using methods similar to Ridoutt's.

Although many researchers support Ridoutt's work, others say we don't yet know enough about global water cycles to accurately measure environmental impact. Organizations such as the Water Footprint Network and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) still believe that simply reporting the total volume of water is currently the best and clearest way to communicate a water footprint.

"The paper Brad has written has quite a high value, but there is a long way to go," says the WWF's Ashok Chapagain, who has been studying water footprint methods for over five years. Without an agreed-on standard, reporting water footprints simply as volumes is the easiest for consumers and businesses to understand, he says.

Ridoutt, on the other hand, believes his method will turn out to be more useful for consumers, and he hopes that when footprints are applied to food products in the future, they won't be just a sum of all the water they have used. "If you want to communicate something to the public in a simple way," he says, "you have to express it in a way that gives the [environmental] impact."

This article is provided by Scienceline, a project of New York University's Science, Health and Environmental Reporting Program.

*** NOTICE: In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed, without profit, for research and educational purposes only. ***

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Car Squatting

Make Paradise, Tear Down a Parking Lot
A massive recall on land illegally given to automobiles
Here's an interesting article from the Project for Public Spaces, link HERE.

Cars illegally occupy prime real estate in Atlanta.
It was recently discovered that cars have been squatting on some of the most valuable land in America—sometimes for as long as seventy years. The land will now be returned to the American public.

Officials at the International Downtown Association discovered that landmark legislation from the 1930s has been misinterpreted since the day it was signed into law. Congress unanimously approved the 1937 Urban Improvement Act, which states that free parking in towns and cities must be taxed at an annual rate of 10 percent of estimated real estate value. But a General Motors lobbyist impersonating a Commerce Department official altered the document so that it appeared to offer tax breaks to businesses that provide free parking to their customers and employees.

Calculating that parking lot operators and shopping malls now owe the American people a staggering $986 billion in back taxes, the Treasury department decided it would be easier and more compassionate for parking lots to be turned over to local governments to create thousands of new parks, squares, public spaces and civic institutions.