Natural Solutions Tool Will Help Drive Equitable Green Infrastructure Investments

Communities throughout the Chicago-Calumet watershed face challenges due to the climate crisis which require infrastructure agencies to work together to find solutions.

The Chicago-Calumet River Watershed Council is creating a data-driven Natural Solutions Tool to better understand ideal places for nature-based green infrastructure projects which take into consideration the need for equity and environmental justice. The main goal is to achieve social, environmental, and economic benefits using natural climate solutions in areas with the greatest need. 

This month, the Watershed Council is hosting two virtual community partner meetings to help people learn more about the Natural Solutions Tool, ask questions, and provide input.

By combining sophisticated Geographic Information System (GIS) analysis and on-the-ground input with community priorities, the Natural Solutions Tool will help communities and policy makers across the watershed integrate strategic equity and environmental considerations into the scopes of future projects to maximize their benefits for communities and the environment.

The Natural Solutions Tool will allow users to locate parcels that meet their desired characteristics and where green infrastructure is most suitable, as well as to compare climate, public health, and equity information to find ways to address complex environmental challenges and improve ecological health. The tool will be published on a user-friendly website for use by the public, community advocates, and decision makers. The tool creation process is a project of the Watershed Council and is being administered by Friends of the Chicago River in partnership with The Trust for Public Land.

Initiated in 2020 by Friends of the Chicago River, the 16-member Watershed Council’s approach is to maximize multiple ecological, social, and climate resiliency objectives across jurisdictional boundaries.

If you have questions please contact Friends’ Planning Director Adam Flickinger aflickinger@chicagoriver.org.