Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments (OKI) is the Council of Governments and the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) for the Cincinnati Area. OKI has a long history of partnering with local agencies to promote and facilitate greenspace conservation throughout the Region. For over twenty years, OKI has employed a Strategic Regional Planning Process for which the Natural Resources component sets forth a regional vision to protect and improve the diversity and sustainability of the Region's natural systems. Strategies for realizing this vision include improved coordination of planning efforts, ensuring sustainable water resource protection, understanding the full value of a diverse natural system, and considering the impacts of development within entire watershed areas. OKI is also federally mandated to conduct Environmental Consultations as part of our Metropolitan Transportation Plan (MTP) on the MPO side. One requirement is to address the environmental mitigation needs associated with regional transportation projects. Both the SRPP and the MTP suggest an increased need for coordination among natural systems planning and other planning Initiatives to conserve high-quality and scarce resources more effectively. OKI addresses these needs by collaborating with state and local agencies on programs to conserve regionally significant natural systems and providing models, data sources, Geographic Information System (GIS) data, and analytical tools that help state and local partners indicate the economic and environmental value of natural systems.
This session will provide a background of historical greenspace partnership initiatives. An overview of OKI's development of environmental GIS-based tools will be provided. These tools allow local decision-makers to explore the region’s environmental features, determine the values of specific tree species in their community, prioritize conservation areas and identify potential mitigation project sites based on locally available data. The presentation will also highlight recent developments in regional greenspace collaboration, including the results of our most recent Natural Systems focus groups of expert stakeholders and the relaunch of the Greenspace Action Team, a collaboration of multiple conservation partners in a 10-county region dedicated to protecting high-quality greenspace.