As Iowa cities continue to rebuild from this summer’s floods, "green" experts are hoping for an approach that will improve the environment. Shannon Ramsay is founder of Trees Forever in Marion. Her group is working with cities on replanting projects and Ramsay says a fundraising campaign is underway.
"We’ll be working with communities like Cedar Rapids, Parkersburg and Iowa City to figure out what they want to do first and look at phases for planting projects," Ramsay said. "It may be plantings in parks, along streets, entrance ways, residential tree plantings…just a wide variety of projects." Ramsay says city leaders, as they discuss rebuilding plans, should be thinking "green."
"We’ve got to map out what we have currently, for instance in flood-plain areas, so we know what we have," Ramsay said. "We’ve got to be sure that we protect those areas if we build around them or if we extend levees. As we rebuild neighborhoods, we have to be sure we’re planting trees and restoring areas."
Jim Patchett is founder and president of the Conservation Design Forum in Chicago. He’s currently consulting the city of Cedar Rapids in its flood recovery efforts. Patchett says officials in Iowa need to look at new solutions to avoid catastropic flood damage in the future.
"The long term solutions for Iowa have to address urban and suburban development in a sustainable, intelligent way," Patchett said. "It also has to address agricultural land uses. There are wonderful opportunities out there to look at new ways of doing things that provide economic benefits as well as environmental benefits." Patchett and Ramsay will both speak at a Green Symposium scheduled for December 4th in Cedar Rapids.