Big City Primary Environmental Corridors: An Interview w. Sura Faraj
Godsil. In the course of community discussions and debates about the future of the Milwaukee River and its surroundings, I was introduced to the concept “primary environmental corridor.” This is a new term for me and I would very much appreciate your thoughts as to its meaning and significance for urban planning and development.
Faraj. Environmental Corridors are recognized as valuable natural resources. They include not only woodlands, prairies, and wildlife habitat areas, but lakes, rivers, bluffs, floodplains, wetlands, open greenspace and more.
A Primary Environmental Corridor (PEC) is at least 400 acres and 2 miles long and 200 feet wide.
Secondary environmental corridors usually connect to primary environmental corridors, but are smaller, at least 100 acres and a mile long.
The Milwaukee River and surrounding bluffs north of North Avenue have PEC designation.
If we are to preserve these areas in any meaningful way, we must curtail development, at least to the extent that we are disallowing high density development in these areas. Examples would include condos, hotels, apartments and dorms.
Internationally renowned environmentalist Betsy Damon, who was recently in Milwaukee to discuss water issues said the most important thing is to “save as much greenspace around the river as you can.” She even went as far as saying, “Take back greenspace. It should never belong to developers.”
We live in a world that is rapidly changing. Cities all over the world are looking for water resources. Wars are being fought over it. Water has become a commodity that is rapidly becoming privatized, not just in other countries, but here at home.
We need leaders who are visionary enough to see what’s coming down the pike, so to speak. Protecting our water has already become the main focus of resource management. It is vastly more important that protecting or finding oil resources. We can live without oil. We cannot live without water.
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