Many excellent resources exist to help communities protect and enhance natural areas and the ecosystem services they provide for people and wildlife. As a local resident, you too have many opportunities to get involved in your community and help guide local land use decisions.
This page highlights key resources, programs and coalitions that provide support for Smart Growth, Low-Impact Development, Green Infrastructure, and conservation and restoration planning across the Narragansett Bay Watershed and beyond. Your involvement can make a difference!
Mass Audubon’s Shaping the Future of Your Community program was created to help the fastest-developing communities chart a more sustainable future. Priority actions for these communities include adopting the Community Preservation Act, updating open space plans, and revising zoning and bylaws to protect land and water resources. The Shaping program provides numerous services, including workshops, advice, and technical assistance for residents, municipal officials, and businesses. Visit the Shaping website for more information and to access resources like a preservation and development toolkit, a mapping tool for identifying important conservation areas (MAPPR), a bylaw review tool, and fact sheets on Low Impact Development (LID).
Mass Audubon’s five “Value of Nature” fact sheets–Forests, Coastal Areas, Wetlands & Waterways, Grasslands & Farmland, and Urban Green Space–take a deeper look at the financial and health benefits our ecosystems provide to people. Based on a literature review of over 100 technical papers, they provide easy access to facts and figures on the importance of protecting natural spaces, and why nature-based solutions are often the best choice when addressing problems like flooding and poor air quality within communities.
Grow Smart Rhode Island promotes sustainable and equitable economic growth by advocating for compact development in revitalized urban, town, and village centers balanced with responsible stewardship of the region’s natural resources. This organization informs leaders, decision makers, and concerned citizens about the value of compact development and asset stewardship and provides research and training on proven smart growth strategies. Visit their website for a database of links to existing ordinances (agriculture, mixed use, and more) in Rhode Island municipalities, information on workshops, and training resources on topics like urban revitalization, achieving mixed use, and writing sound land use decisions.
The Narragansett Bay Estuary Program collaborates with organizations from both Massachusetts and Rhode Island to protect and restore the waters of the Narragansett Bay itself as well as the 1 million acres of land that surround and drain into the Bay. NBEP works to attract and direct federal and other resources to build needed scientific information, helping to inform the public and policy makers, convene collaborative work-groups around key issues, and support local organizations and grassroots initiatives. Visit their website to find a Comprehensive Conservation Management Plan for the Narragansett Bay region, the 2017 State of the Narragansett Bay and Its Watershed report, a searchable library of relevant resources, and information on the development of a new mapping tool for tracking habitat restoration and protection projects throughout the Bay and Watershed.
The Rhode Island Green Infrastructure Coalition’s 37 members foster implementation of green infrastructure in urban communities to improve the environment and create local jobs. The Coalition achieves this through education and by advocating for private, statewide, and municipal funding to complete projects that mitigate stormwater flooding, provide climate change resilience, and improve water quality. Visit their website for information on stormwater and climate change, descriptions of green infrastructure projects sponsored by Coalition members, an overview of laws, ordinances, and regulations relevant to water quality, and other resources by partner organizations.
The goal of the Resilient Taunton Watershed Network is to promote the resiliency of the Taunton Watershed in the face of climate change and development, considering ecological outcomes in addition to economic, social, and environmental justice issues. Network members are working together to protect existing green infrastructure, promote ecological restoration, carefully consider climate change concerns, and support future development patterns that use land and infrastructure efficiently. Visit their website to explore resilient community case studies, workshop presentations and resources, a report on stream continuity in the Watershed, and maps of Taunton green infrastructure. Communities can also request a “Resilient Roundtable” where RTWN members will facilitate a solutions-based discussion and offer tailored resources.
The Narragansett Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve is a partnership program between the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM). It was established to preserve, protect, and restore coastal and estuarine ecosystems of the Narragansett Bay through long-term research, education, and training. Visit their website to learn more about the Coastal Training Program, in particular, which can provide decision-makers in your community with practical and relevant science-based information and skills needed to address critical resource management issues. Workshops focus on topics such as water quality, climate change adaptation, and habitat protection.