PZC Engages Communities in the Flint & Shiawassee River Watersheds to improve water quality

The Land Policy Institute's Planning & Zoning Center at MSU is partnering with the Flint River Watershed Coalition and the Friends of the Shiawassee River (FOSR) on a Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) grant project.

The Land Policy Institute’s Planning & Zoning Center at MSU is partnering with the Flint River Watershed Coalition and the Friends of the Shiawassee River (FOSR) on a Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) grant project focused on the Flint and Shiawassee River Watersheds. The $299,000 two-year U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-funded project (2012-2014) aims to improve the effectiveness of efforts to restore, remediate or prevent future negative impacts to Great Lakes water quality by partnering with local governments and watershed-based conservation organizations.

Alternative community engagement techniques are being piloted in both watersheds, with a heightened emphasis on engaging under-served populations in Flint around local and statewide water quality issues. An example of this was the recent Ice Cream Social Neighborhood Community Event around Thread Lake that enabled more than 60 local residents to share their opinions about the quality of the lake and recreational opportunities abutting it. This was followed by a visioning session for 30 residents at the International Academy of Flint, a charter school on South Saginaw in Flint. In November, residents around Flint Park Lake will gather with the PZC Team to vision ideas for future improvements around that lake.

The Planning & Zoning Center also co-sponsored the first Shiawassee River Watershed Summit on October 17, 2013, at Baker College in Owosso, with the Friends of the Shiawassee River Watershed. About 70 people attended the afternoon and evening sessions designed to introduce participants to the River, to river users, and to a variety of best management practices for protecting river water quality. Mark Wyckoff, Director of PZC and Senior Associate Director of LPI, made two presentations to those gathered, along with eight other speakers. These presentations will be available on the FOSR project website soon.

In addition to concept plans that result from the visioning sessions in each of the three Flint neighborhoods, the project will produce a community engagement guidebook and provide workshops on water quality issues for area planners and conservationists. Furthermore, late next Spring, there will be a Basin-wide summit for area individuals and groups invested in issues surrounding the two watersheds.

The Planning & Zoning Center previously completed a GLRI project (2010-2012) with the East Michigan Council of Governments and the Saginaw Basin Land Trust that targeted 102 local units of government in the Cass, Pigeon/Pinnebog and Rifle River Watersheds to assist with master plan and zoning ordinance updates to protect water quality.

Learn more at PZC & the GLRI Saginaw Bay Watershed Projects. Questions about the project can be sent to Pardeep Toor at toorpard@landpolicy.msu.edu or call the PZC office at 517.432.2222.

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