Natural Infrastructure Resiliency Plan
The City of Hampton is working with the nonprofit firm, the Green Infrastructure Center to identify, evaluate and prioritize its highest value natural resources — its natural infrastructure — and to identify opportunities to protect and restore these assets for greater resilience. GIC will work with city staff, a community committee, and the public as it creates models, maps, and policy audits to craft actionable strategies to build resilience by reducing imperviousness and increasing natural infrastructure and improve access to nature and social equity in all solutions though a Strategic Natural Infrastructure Resiliency Plan. The project began in February 2023 and will take approximately 2 years to complete.
Community Steering Committee
Community input and feedback are foundational to Resilient Hampton’s design and planning approach. Community members, stakeholders, environmental professionals, and activists are invited to actively participate in the creation of the Natural Infrastructure Resiliency Plan by attending Steering Committee meetings and reviewing meeting documents.
The Community Steering Committee will be meeting the following evenings: December 14th, 2023, January 11th, 2024, March 14th, 2024, and April 11th, 2024. If you are interested in attending, email email@example.com.
Content from Community Steering Committee Meetings:
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Natural Infrastructure? In this context, natural infrastructure refers to all the natural elements that help support our city. It includes trees and forests, waterways, wetlands, high quality soils and natural areas such as parks and trails. Like planning for grey infrastructure – roads, bridges, power lines, pipelines – natural infrastructure should be managed as well. An urban natural infrastructure network includes large blocks of intact habitats, habitat patches, and forest fragments as well as connectivity of trails and parks. The more connected the landscape, the more resilient it is!
Connections Count: When landscapes are connected, wildlife and birds can move across the landscape, ensuring their ability to obtain food, find the best open shelter, and maintain a diverse gene pool for healthy populations. Pollinators, which the community relies on for food and natural beauty, also need habitat to allow them to do their work! And it’s not just connections for wildlife, people also need a connected landscape to allow for recreation, access and alternate transportation — imagine walking to work on a nature trail? This plan will look for ways to create new and maintain existing connections.
Why do we need to map and manage Natural Infrastructure? Natural Infrastructure includes intact forests, tree canopy, wetlands, springs, parks and rivers, dunes, and high-quality soils that support clean water, air quality, wildlife habitat and food. These natural assets sustain the local economy and create healthy, attractive cities appreciated by tourists and residents alike. However, if we do not know where our natural infrastructure is located, we can lose it over time such as from storms, poorly planned development or just old age as trees die and are not replanted. Cities can reap many benefits from their natural systems if they identify, rank, and map them as part of their “infrastructure.”
Why a Natural Infrastructure Plan now? Cities can use natural infrastructure plans for many purposes, such as protecting properties from wind damage, reducing standing water and flooding, recharging the groundwater to limit land subsidence, restoring native shorelines, creating healthful communities, protecting wildlife and biodiversity, providing or identifying new outdoor recreation options, informing transportation, comprehensive plan goals or zoning decisions. Most importantly, the plan will help Hampton along its journey to becoming more resilient to climate change impacts.
What will the outcome be? This process will create a Natural Infrastructure Resiliency Plan that will advance the mission of the Resilient Hampton Initiative by laying out data-driven actions to achieving resiliency to sea level rise, storm surge, flooding, and urban heat.
How will this plan help Hampton?
- The more natural a community, the healthier the people.
- Areas with more natural spaces are able to better attract top companies and well paid jobs.
- Cities can save funds in the long run by making better, smarter investments in water, trees, trails, food systems and parks.
- Hazards, such as flooding, can be mitigated with better planning and a more infiltrative landscape, thereby saving lives and lessening risks and costs.
- The plan will provide the city with data to target tree protection and planting in places that will have the greatest impact on decreasing heat or increasing stormwater infiltration.
- More natural communities are safer communities; less crime occurs in natural areas than areas without natural spaces.
- The more natural the community, the better the air quality, even at the neighborhood level.
- A connected landscape is healthier, more diverse, and more resilient.
How will the plan be created? Staff from the Virginia nonprofit firm, the Green Infrastructure Center (GIC), will work with a city advisory committee as well as a community steering committee to evaluate maps and models of the best natural resources and culturally important landscapes in the city, as well as opportunities to protect and restore areas for resilience to risks, such as flooding or heat island effect. GIC will aid the city in developing goals and actions. For more background on natural infrastructure planning, visit www.gicinc.org.
How are maps made? Using local data and satellite imagery, the plan will determine the extent of trees, waters, wetlands, soils and many other features that make up the city’s environment. Maps are evaluated to determine if they are correct and if they highlight the most important and significant resources. Maps can show what is unique, important, or needs more attention.
What will implementation of the plan look like? This plan will result in a set of actions with timelines for the city and other stakeholders to take to protect and restore natural infrastructure in Hampton. In addition, the plan will position Hampton to take advantage of other grant opportunities.
How can the public contribute? The public will be encouraged to participate through community workshops, open houses, and surveys starting in the fall of 2023. Information on ways to participate will be shared on this webpage and through the Resilient Hampton E-Newsletter.