Communities that would like to plan for sustainability and resiliency have several potential partners at the local, regional, state, and federal level. Potential local partners might include county road commissions, drain commissions, and health departments. Partners at the regional level can include councils of governments or metropolitan planning organizations, and non-profit groups such as watershed councils and land conservancies.
Several state agencies in Michigan can help promote sustainability and resiliency planning. The state agencies cover a broad range of issues including environmental quality, natural resources, health, transportation, agriculture, housing, historic preservation, and economic development, all of which have an impact on the resiliency of Michigan communities. Federal partners might include the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, FEMA, FERC, the National Flood Insurance Program, and the Army Corps of Engineers.
Regional Planning Agencies – A regional planning agency is an association of several local governments within a region. These agencies can have different functions including local government planning assistance, economic development, transportation planning, and environmental planning. Regional planning agencies can help to foster a collaborative relationship among neighboring communities, encouraging best practices in managing natural and other resources shared by all the communities.
All regional planning agencies in Michigan are designated as water quality management agencies for their region by the State. Many regional planning agencies also participate in watershed management planning and coastal zone management planning. Regional planning agencies can be a great resource for communities who want to protect natural resources in their own communities and those they share with their neighbors.
Metropolitan Planning Organizations – A metropolitan planning organization (MPO) provides regional transportation planning services for metropolitan areas of more than 50,000 people. The main task of an MPO is distributing federal funds for transportation projects and programs. The MPO determines a method for distributing these funds by undergoing a planning process with local governments in their area and with the public. Many regional planning agencies in Michigan also act as the MPO for their region.
Two main documents maintained by an MPO are the regional transportation plan (RTP) and the transportation improvement program (TIP). The RTP is the long-range plan for the region, demonstrating the transportation needs of the region and helping the MPO determine priorities for investment. The TIP is the short-term plan for determining the transportation projects that are the highest priorities within the next 4-5 years, and for which the MPO seeks federal transportation funding.
A regional transportation system directly affects the quality of nearby water resources. An MPO can help mitigate the effects of the transportation system on water quality by planning to control runoff along roads, encouraging the use of pervious pavement, and fostering collaboration among neighboring local governments.
Michigan Department of Environmental Quality
Michigan Department of Natural Resources
Michigan Department of Health and Human Services
Michigan Department of Transportation
Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development
Michigan State Housing Development Authority
State Historic Preservation Office
Department of Talent and Economic Development
Land Conservancies – A land conservancy is an organization dedicated to preserving natural areas and other undeveloped lands, in order to protect natural resources for the enjoyment of the greater community. Land conservancies can either purchase land or receive donations of land. In some cases, land conservancies protect property held in private ownership by purchasing a conservation easement to prevent development, or by purchasing development or resource extraction rights.
There are several regional and local land conservancies throughout Michigan. Heart of the Lakes includes a directory of Michigan land conservancies on their website, which can be accessed from the link below:
Watershed Councils – A watershed council aims to protect the water resources in a group of communities sharing a lake, river, stream, wetland, or groundwater source. Watershed councils can help to implement watershed management plans, educate the general public about issues concerning the watershed, and organizing cleanup or other volunteer efforts. They also promote recreation on Michigan’s waterways. Watershed councils work across multiple municipal boundaries and can help promote regional collaboration among communities.
There are several watershed councils throughout Michigan each working to protect a particular watershed. The Michigan Lake & Stream Associations, Inc. includes a list of Michigan watershed councils on their website, which is available at the link below: