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Portland’s Grey to Green Initiative

February 22, 2010

Portland, Oregon is a city full of innovation and foresight. The latest initiative which I want to shout from the (green) rooftops is called Grey to Green.

The project was first funded in 2008 and will, by 2013, have put $50 million dollars into infrastructure improvements to manage stormwater runoff and protect streams and rivers. The goals, as stated by the Portland Bureau of Environmental Services, are as follows:

  • Add 43 acres of ecoroofs
  • Plant 33,000 yard trees and 50,000 street trees
  • Restore native vegetation
  • Construct 920 Green Street facilities
  • Control the spread of invasive plants
  • Replace 8 culverts that block fish passage
  • Purchase and protect 419 acres of high priority natural areas

Amazing project, right? As a resident of Boston, I have to admit that I am highly skeptical of any city infrastructure improvements (big dig, anyone?) but it seems that Portland is sticking to its goals and has posted an update of their progress here. I love it — the project, the goals, the transparency with which both are being carried out . . .

There was even a study by Geoffrey Donovan, who studies the economics of urban forestry for the U.S. Forest Service in Portland, which concluded street trees can raise the value of homes by $7,000. Portland residents can even get a $50 rebate if they plant a native tree in their yard.

So, not only is this project good for the water systems, which makes complete sense given the amount of rain that falls in Portland, but it is also good for the property values and the city’s economy.

I think one of the things that impresses me the most about this initiative is that many cities wait until a system is broken to fix it, but Portland is taking the steps right NOW to create the healthiest, best, infrastructure they can. This will make the city one of the most attractive to live in while protecting its natural resources.

Have I told you all how much I love Portland, yet?

photo via flickr user aram k.
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