Green Infrastructure in Parks

5 Common Questions A bout Green Infrastructure What do I need to know about green infrastructure, and what does the public need to know about green infrastructure and how it relates to parks? Why choose green over gray infrastructure? There are a variety of benefits of choosing green infrastructure over traditional gray infrastructure (e.g., concrete pipes), including: • It’s more attractive, effective, and multifunctional. • It provides habitat for beneficial wildlife. • It can reduce maintenance and eliminate mosquito breeding habitat. • It can incorporate existing park features—both natural elements and man-made infrastructure. • Using it can reduce infrastructure costs compared to gray infrastructure. Will it attract nuisance wildlife? Not if you design and maintain it correctly according to local standards and the following guidelines: • Choose the right mix of plants to attract beneficial wildlife (e.g., birds, pollinators). • Select green infrastructure elements that eliminate standing water that could serve as mosquito breeding habitat, and design facilities to drain in 72 hours. Ensure permanent pools don’t become stagnant. • Nuisance wildlife can occur in all parks. Good design and attentive management such as eliminating food sources and providing securely covered trash receptacles can reduce or eliminate problems. • Inspect practices regularly to remedy any problems. Will the stormwater features be unattractive or create safety hazards? Not if you use green infrastructure, because: • Green infrastructure practices are typically integrated into the landscape and rely mainly on soils, vegetation, and infiltration to reduce runoff. • Traditional stormwater management creates detention basins and wet ponds that are often unsightly and need fences to keep out the public. • Green infrastructure features can be designed with aesthetics in mind and can even incorporate benches, art, or sculptural designs. How do you ensure public safety and limit liability? • If possible, design features to infiltrate runoff. • Design stormwater elements that minimize the risk potential for park users such as eliminating trip hazards, adding crushed stone paths, or designing boardwalks or viewing platforms. • Create water areas (e.g., permanent pools, water features) with the public in mind. Careful design, clear sight lines, and natural features such as wetland fringes can reduce or eliminate hazards. • Limit access to gently sloping bank areas around water features by adding natural screens and barriers, and allow public access where it can be controlled or monitored by park staff. Mosquito Control Green infrastructure can be designed to limit mosquito breeding. Green infrastruc- ture design standards allow for standing water for short periods of time—usually 48 to 72 hours—which is much shorter than the time needed for mosquitoes to develop from larvae to adults. When designed to this standard and properly maintained, green infrastructure ensures that water is infiltrated into the ground quickly enough to limit nuisance insects. Mosquito control via green infrastructure also reduces the need for parks managers to use insecticides for mosquito control—an overall benefit to health, safety, and the environment.

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