Winnebago County to hold sustainable communities conference

From press release

Communities throughout the Midwest are looking at ways to plan for growth that will minimize impact on existing communities and natural attributes while improving the quality of life. They are working to achieve seemingly-divergent goals, from relieving traffic congestion to preserving open space, to encouraging economic development while preserving the heritage of older neighborhoods.

Plan to attend this one-day conference, “Best Practices for Sustainable Communities,” June 30 to learn about applying sustainable principles to transportation and infrastructure; implementing best planning practices from watershed protection to conservation design; preserving our farmland; protecting our rivers and much more from people and places that are trying to do it better.

This conference is part of the Winnebago County 2030 Land Use Planning process initiated by Winnebago County Board Chairman Scott H. Christiansen with the support of the Winnebago County Board. Funding is provided by a grant from the Illinois Department of Transportation, with support from the Winnebago County Highway Department.

Other event sponsors include the Winnebago County Forest Preserve District, the Rockford Area Chamber of Commerce and the Natural Land Institute.

The day-long event will be at Cliffbreakers, 700 W. Riverside Blvd., in Rockford. The cost to register for the event is $40 until June 18. After June 18, the cost to register is $45. For further information, go to the conference web site at Three tracks will be held throughout the conference focusing on Transportation, Green Infrastructure and Conservation Practices. The day-long schedule of events follows:

Schedule of Events

8 a.m.—Registration opens; continental breakfast and view exhibits

8:30 a.m.—Welcome—Planning for the Future; Winnebago County Board Chairman Scott H. Christiansen

8:45 a.m.—Morning address: “Managing Wet Weather with Green Infrastructure”; speaker Abby Hall, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, D.C.

Green infrastructure is an approach to wet weather management that is cost-effective, sustainable, and environmentally friendly. On a large scale, preservation and restoration of natural features (forests, floodplains and wetlands) are critical components of green infrastructure. On a smaller scale, green infrastructure practices include rain gardens, porous pavements, green roofs, infiltration planters, trees and tree boxes, and rainwater harvesting for non-potable uses.

9:45 a.m.—“Context Sensitive Solutions: Thinking Beyond the Pavement,” speaker Gary Toth, Project for Public Spaces. Context sensitive solutions (CSS) is a collaborative, interdisciplinary approach that involves all stakeholders in providing a transportation facility that fits its setting. It is an approach that leads to preserving and enhancing scenic, aesthetic, historic, community, and environmental resources, while improving or maintaining safety, mobility, and infrastructure conditions.

10:30 a.m.—Morning break

10:45 a.m. Concurrent breakout sessions

Room A: “Transportation: Building ‘Greener’ Roadways,” speakers Paul Kovacs, Recycled Roadways—Illinois Tollway Authority, and (invited) Janet Attarian, Green Alleys of Chicago

Innovative practices in road-building range from the Illinois Tollway Authority, which uses recyclables in road materials (including I-90 improvements here in Winnebago County) to the Green Alley Program, which reconstructs Chicago alleyways using permeable pavement.

Room B: “Conservation Design: Developing Sustainably,” Speaker, Randall Arendt. Conservation design is a form of sustainable development which protects an area’s natural features, that could include open space landscape and vista, farmland, natural habitat for wildlife, or rural lifestyles. It is a growing trend in many parts of the country. In eastern U.S., conservation design has been promoted as a way to preserve water quality.

Room C: “Preserving our Farmland,” speaker Janice Hill, Kane County. The Kane County Farmland Protection Program is the first and only funded farmland protection program in Illinois. This groundbreaking program has permanently protected some of Illinois’ most productive farmland at the metropolitan urban fringe.

Noon: Luncheon and Keynote Speaker Randall Arendt, “Practicing Good Design Principles”

“Randall Arendt’s approach to land use and public policy mechanisms for rural development has inspired designers and civic leaders worldwide. The power of his ideas resides in the fact that they are practicable, demonstrable, and delightful,” said William A. McDonough, author of Cradle to Cradle.

1:45 p.m.—“Planning for a Sustainable Future,” concurrent sessions

Room A: “I-LAST: Livable and Sustainable Transportation” Speaker John Fortmann, Ill. Department of Transportation

A cooperative effort of IDOT, the engineering and the construction communities, I-LAST puts forth a comprehensive, voluntary list of practices that bring sustainable results to highway projects. The guidelines include a simple method of evaluating transportation projects with respect to livability, sustainability and effect on the natural environment.

Room B: Speaker, “Protecting our Rivers: How One Person Can Make a Difference,” Chad Pregracke, Living Lands and Waters

Learn how one man’s desire to clean up a portion of his beloved Mississippi river led to the formation of an organization that has collected more than 6 million pounds of debris from our nation’s greatest rivers.

Room C: “Natural Areas: Protecting and Restoring with Native Plantings” Speaker Jack Pizzo, Pizzo and Associates

Over the past 150 years, Midwestern prairies have all but disappeared. But one man is helping to bring them back by creating, restoring and enhancing natural areas using a simple principle—working with Mother Nature, not against her.

2:45 p.m.—Afternoon break

3:15 p.m. “How To” Concurrent Presentations

Room A: “Transportation: Preserving Rural Roadways” Speaker (invited) Rustic Roads Program—Wisconsin Department of Transportation

One way to preserve the character of rural roadways is to develop a Rustic Roads program that helps to preserve outstanding natural features, native vegetation, native wildlife, or to protect scenic vistas of agricultural, natural or historic settings. They typically serve those traveling by auto, bicycle or hiking as they enjoy its rustic features.

Room B: “Water Supply: Protecting for Future Generations,” Speakers TBA

They say, “Water is the new Oil.” Learn how some nearby communities are planning now to protect their precious water supplies for future generations.

Room C: “Agro-conservation: From Stable to Table,” speaker Nicholas R. Patera, Teska Associates, Inc.

How can we incorporate local farm culture and productivity as a complement to sustainable development? This is presented as a way to responsibly preserve agricultural heritage as productive open space and to produce locally-grown seasonal products as a lifestyle-defining element. The concept is applicable to a number of agricultural purposes from locally, grown produce, orchards, vineyards, equestrian or livestock paired with planned development for residential housing, schools, lodging, restaurants, retail or wineries.

4:30 p.m.—“Closing Remarks: Getting It Done Sustainably”

From the June 2-8, 2010 issue

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