What is the “Open Space Plan” and how can you participate?
The term “open space” is another term for green space, referring to the important natural landscapes of our region, such as forests, parks, streams, rivers, wetlands, farms and historic sites.
The Northwest Arkansas Regional Planning Commission (NWARPC) has formally begun efforts to develop a Northwest Arkansas Regional Open Space Master Plan. A steering committee, comprised of representatives from regional organizations, including the Northwest Arkansas Land Trust, met in December to review details of the planning process and will meet another four times during the two year process. The purpose of the plan is to develop a coordinated, voluntary program to protect and promote the region’s natural landscapes that are valued by the residents of Northwest Arkansas.
The Plan will identify the natural landscapes that make Northwest Arkansas an attractive place to live, and will include a comprehensive strategy for the conservation of these natural assets. The goal is to preserve these assets, thereby maintaining our high quality of life as the region continues to grow and prosper. The planning process will involve extensive public input and outreach starting with public meetings scheduled for Jan 20, 2015 at the Fayetteville Public Library, at 401 W. Mountain Street and Jan 21, 2015 at the Bentonville Public Library, at 405 S. Main Street. Both meetings will be drop-in from 4-7pm.
Elizabeth Bowen, Project Manager with the NWARPC says, “The Plan will provide a strategic focus and direction toward establishing an open space network to support outdoor activities, economic opportunities, improved water quality, and habitats.” The planning process will involve identifying natural open space assets, analyzing and assessing those assets, and developing a conservation toolbox for the purpose of conserving these resources for current residents, visitors, and future generations.
To learn more about the project background, benefits of open space, and why this plan is important visit the website at http://www.nwaopenspace.com. Additional public input is requested through an online comment form found on this site. An Online Input Map has been created for users to drop points describing their favorite places and see what others have listed in your area. Citizens will be able to use this website to share their thoughts about their favorite open spaces in Northwest Arkansas. Examples could include: where citizens like to hunt, fish, hike, bike, canoe, kayak, swim, bird watch, ride horses, garden, play, and ponder.
Where are the best views and most scenic landscapes? Where are the favorite old churches and cemeteries, battlefields, forests, and parks? This information will be used to help identify what people value most about open spaces in this region. Open space has been a subject of discussion in NW Arkansas for decades, beginning with NWARPC’s first open space plan in the 1970s. Since then, many other local and regional studies have focused on open space, or included it as a key component. This new plan will build upon these previous efforts.
The plan is being financed through a grant by the Walton Family Foundation to the NWARPC. For additional information about the project, please contact Elizabeth Bowen at 479-751-7125 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
To learn more about the role of the Northwest Arkansas Land Trust in the Plan, or to provide your input to the land trust, contact Terri Lane at 479-966-4666 or email@example.com.