Effort to green up urban Macomb County takes root

Macomb County residents with an affinity for trees, shade and the outdoors have reason to celebrate as officials announce a new program designed to increase tree canopy coverage south of the Clinton River.

The program, Green Macomb Urban Forestry Partnership, is an initiative of the Macomb County Department of Planning & Economic Development and is made possible through a grant from the U.S. Forestry Service and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Forestry Division.  ITC Holdings provided matching money to secure the grant.

According to officials, the initiative focuses on communities south of the Clinton River because they have the highest population density in the county while simultaneously having the lowest tree canopy coverage. Warren, Sterling Heights, and Clinton Township, some of Michigan's largest cities, are locatedat least in partsouth of the Clinton River. The targeted area also has some of the county's oldest infrastructure and its sub-watersheds are heavily impacted by urbanization.

Plans for the affected area include the systematic implementation of a coordinated green infrastructure strategy to improve economic vitality, quality of life and ecological integrity in the affected areas. Green infrastructure uses plants and soil to help filter and purify stormwater runoff while creating habitat and greenspace.

Meanwhile, the city of Utica, itself nestled along the Clinton River, is hoping to invigorate its commercial and industrial districts through the creation of a five-year master plan. Area business owners are invited to attend a public input workshop from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, May 12 at the Utica Public Library.

Proposals include extending downtown, zoning ordinance reviews and continued focus on recreation and water assets.  Says John Paul Rea, director of the Macomb County Department of Planning & Economic Development, "Public input is essential for developing a realistic and achievable plan for the future of one of Macomb County's most historic and vibrant cities."

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