In October, officials from the Obama Administration, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), National Park Service (NPS), and U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) announced a series of targeted investments to enhance Baltimore area parks and green spaces, clean waterways, expand environmental education programs, and increase access to environmental data.
More than 50 federal, state and local officials, nonprofit leaders, philanthropists and community activists attended the ceremony at the Parks & People Foundation to applaud the additional resources and participate in a White House Roundtable focused on future federal, state and local environmental collaboration in the city.
As part of a long-term commitment by the Federal government to address both environmental health and justice in Baltimore, the White House announced the following new resources and initiatives:
Launch of Baltimore City Pilot GROW Center to keep parks and gardens beautiful: Baltimore City and the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced their commitment to pilot the city’s first Green Resources and Outreach for Watersheds (GROW) Center, providing free/low cost materials and technical assistance to residents working to revitalize vacant lots and manage storm water.
Urban Wildlife Refuge Partnership Expansion:
In 2013, USFWS announced the first Urban Wildlife Refuge Partnership in the nation at Masonville Cove. USFWS has since expanded the partnership throughout South and West Baltimore, positioning the region for better access to Federal resources.
Planning for the future of Baltimore’s park system:
The National Park Service and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources announced funding for Baltimore City Department of Recreation & Parks (BCRP) to develop a new comprehensive plan for the city’s park system – the first such plan since 1926. BCRP’s planning and community engagement strategy complements the City’s Green Network Plan, which focuses on reclaiming vacant land.
The U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, along with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and CSX Corporation announced funding for demonstration schoolyard habitats at 10 schools across Baltimore. The flagship project will be at Green Street Academy, and include a series of workshops introducing educators to the habitat as a teaching tool.
Village Blue Project:
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) announced the launch of their first Village Blue Project, providing real-time water quality information from the Jones Falls River via EPA and USGS websites. The EPA and USGS will work closely with local groups Waterfront Partnership and Blue Water Baltimore to raise awareness of the tool.
The White House also highlighted actions being taken by organizations in the Baltimore region, including:
National Aquarium of Baltimore, which has received Federal grants from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Institute of Museum and Library Services to engage every Baltimore City sixth-grader in an innovative watershed education experience, using their new model urban waterfront as a classroom and living laboratory.
Chesapeake Conservancy, which has created a virtual tour of the Baltimore Harbor and Patapsco River, allowing anyone to explore the river from their computer and better understand the richness and beauty of the John Smith Chesapeake Trail and the Bay.
Chesapeake Center for Youth Development, which partnered with the American Planning Association (APA) Community Planning Assistance Team to create a new Brooklyn/Baybrook Community Action Plan. The plan offers a vision for a more resilient, revitalized Brooklyn through green infrastructure and the transformation of Garrett Park into a multigenerational community resource with improved facilities, programs, and native plantings.