Arizona Alliance for Livable Communities
Arizona Alliance for Livable Communities
April 2018 Newsletter



In last month's newsletter we introduced the topic of green infrastructure and described its various environmental, social and economic benefits.

This month, our theme is the planning and implementation of regional, broad scale green infrastructure approaches. Specifically, some of AALC's partners have been working on the Maricopa County Regional Open Space Strategy (ROSS). The ROSS is a major planning effort for regional open space conservation that has the potential to impact every resident and visitor of the County and that will eventually serve as an example of how other Arizona counties can address the preservation of different types of open space and provide appropriate access to open space areas.

Enjoy the detailed story & photos
from the Sonoran Institute, below.

Maricopa County
Regional Open Space Strategy (ROSS)

History & Overview
Maricopa County has a rich history of community and civic leaders, governments, and conservation organizations aligning around shared goals to preserve local open space amidst development. In the 1920s, community leaders banded together to save a favorite recreational spot from encroaching mining to establish South Mountain Park. In the 1950s, the Maricopa County Parks Commission was created, and the County acquired Estrella Mountain Regional Park, the first in what would become the largest County park system in the nation. In the 1960s, U.S. Senator Barry Goldwater was instrumental in seeing the iconic Camelback Mountain preserved as a park.

From the 1970s to the 2000’s the valley has added more open space through the creation of the Phoenix Mountain and Sonoran Preserve, the McDowell Sonoran Preserve, Peoria’s Sunrise Mountain, Glendale’s Thunderbird Conservation Park, and Buckeye’s Skyline Regional Park. These are examples of local open space conservation successes made possible by the confluence of planning, collaboration, community engagement, and governmental vision and leadership.


These efforts and successes have been critical to conserving an enviable collection of open space across Maricopa County. However, as the region’s population grew, conservation and investments in maintenance of natural areas did not keep pace. Urban encroachment coupled with ever-increasing visitorship (at times, equal to or greater than that of popular national parks) and diminishing resources for management has resulted in the isolation and degradation of many of these natural resources for people and nature.

Sustaining natural areas and the quality of life components they convey to residents of Maricopa County alongside the growth and development anticipated for the next 20 years will require a regional approach to open space planning and conservation. Planning at the scale where central cities, suburbs, and rural areas can be considered together is critical to sustaining and enhancing the ecological, economic, social, and public health benefits derived from open space.

Development of the ROSS
In January 2016, the Central Arizona Conservation Alliance Trust, Desert Botanical Garden, Maricopa County Parks and Recreation Department, the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy, the Sonoran Institute, the Nature Conservancy, the Trust for Public Land, and more than thirty other participating organizations, participated in a multi-scale, stakeholder-driven, strategic planning process which has resulted in a Regional Open Space Strategy for Maricopa County (ROSS).


From the outset, the Regional Open Space Strategy for Maricopa County has been a highly collaborative, iterative process drawing upon tremendous human resources and expertise from across the region and decades of achievements and efforts from the broader open space stakeholder community. ROSS objectives and associated actions have evolved within and between the ROSS technical advisory teams, with input from the CAZCA partners, and through concerted and sustained efforts to solicit direction and feedback from across the regional space.


The release of the ROSS is planned for summer of 2018. It is the commitment of the Central Arizona Conservation Alliance and its lead partners, the Sonoran Institute, the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy and the Maricopa County Parks and Recreation Department to continue to nurture and forward its goals for a sustainable preserve system that supports healthy ecosystems and healthy communities.

The Planning & Outreach Process
Through an extensive challenges and opportunities mapping process and four years’ collaboration and dialog, CAZCA partners identified four key opportunity areas for expanded discussion and regional planning. In the spring of 2016, working groups assembled and began to meet specifically around these specific challenges:
  • Land Conversion and its Pace, Scale, and Distribution
  • Degradation of Natural Areas
  • Increasing Disconnect Between People and Nature
  • Insufficient Coordination and Collaboration in Open Space Planning and Conservation Actions
Four responsive goals were developed to address these challenges:

GOAL 1: Protect & Connect
Ensure a robust network of natural areas to sustain habitat, provide opportunity for recreation, support clean air and water resources, and improve resilience to climate change.
GOAL 2: Sustain & Restore
Identify and engage best practices in land management and restoration to sustain and enhance native biodiversity, positive recreational experiences, and socio-economic benefits connected with the Sonoran Desert.
GOAL 3: Love & Support
Build champions and the constituency of support and action for Sonoran Desert conservation by raising awareness and connecting people with nature.
GOAL 4: Coordinate & Elevate:
Build upon the CAZCA foundation to ensure and amplify regional open space planning, management, and conservation successes.


The ROSS also works to unify, integrate, and support goals and objectives defined in existing municipal open space plans, general plans, sustainability strategies, and other regional, state, national and international conservation strategies. The ROSS envisions a connected open space system that promotes stewardship of open space with sustainable natural resource practices; connects people with nature; develops champions and advocates for the Sonoran Desert, and creates regional mechanisms to support implementation of regional objectives.

What is unique in this open space planning effort is that the focus is not on simply acquiring more open space. Instead the priority is to identify how to connect and managing the open space we have in such a manner to ensure sustainable ecological and programmatic connectivity. Protection and conservation of future open space will be achieved by using a variety of tools and strategies including but not limited to: acquisition, planning and development policy (i.e., zoning, easements, density transfers, design guidelines, regional planning), land exchanges, leases, and designations.

Gaining acceptance and adoption of the ROSS is key to implementing the strategy. To do this an outreach program is being developed to raise awareness of the regional open space strategy and education stakeholders how they can participate.

The initial focus will be to present the ROSS to municipal and agency planners, recreation and resource managers, policy and decision makers, as well as state and local governments. The intent is to demonstrate the ecological, social and economic value and importance of creating a connected open space system to the region. Sharing the data and the analysis from the regional research will show how high priority conservation, restoration and connectivity actions can be accomplished collectively in the region and are aligned and in support of local open space planning and conservation efforts.


Additional outreach will be conducted to professional and academic communities. Broadly this includes, the research community, university programs, the business community, urban planners, engineers, landscape architects, economic development professionals, public health professionals, stakeholder groups, professional associations, and the broader regional, national, and international conservation community.

Next Steps

As the community of practice tests ideas and advances its collective capacities and understandings, the ROSS will be revisited, adapted, and revised. It is a living, breathing, responsive strategy and the commitment of the Central Arizona Conservation Alliance is to continue to nurture and forward its goals for a sustainable preserve system that supports healthy ecosystems and healthy communities.


For more information regarding the ROSS and/or to contact the Central Arizona Conservation Alliance:



Auorora Green Infrastructure Project
City of Aurora, Illinois

The City of Aurora has become a national model for how to plan for and implement a Green Infrastructure Program. The following are some critical components that can serve as models of green infrastructure implementation projects for Arizona communities.

Urban Street Stormwater Guide
National Association of City Transportation Officials

Streets make up more than 80 percent of all public space in cities, yet street space is often underutilized or disproportionately allocated to the movement of private motor vehicles. Excess impervious surface contributes to stormwater runoff, posing a threat to the environment and human health, and often overwhelming sewer systems. This excess asphalt also poses a threat to public safety, encouraging faster speeds and dangerous conditions for people walking and biking.

The Urban Street Stormwater Guide begins from the principle that street design can support—or degrade—the urban area’s overall environmental health. By incorporating Green Stormwater Infrastructure (GSI) into the right-of-way, cities can manage stormwater and reap the public health, environmental, and aesthetic benefits of street trees, planters, and greenery in the public realm. With thoughtful design, GSI can bolster strategies to provide a safe and pleasant walking and biking experience, efficient and reliable transit service, and safer streets for all users.

The state-of-the-art solutions in this guide will assist urban planners and designers, transportation engineers, city officials, ecologists, public works officials, and others interested in the role of the built urban landscape in protecting the climate, water quality, and natural environment.

Green Infrastructure: A Landscape Approach
American Planning Association


From the beginning, the landscape has determined where and how people live. Over time, people embellished the natural landscape with an infrastructure of roads, aqueducts, bridges, ports, power plants, and more. Now communities are turning their attention to the central planning challenge of our time: sustainability. And they are discovering, or rediscovering, the benefits of green infrastructure — infrastructure that takes advantage of the natural landscape.

This well-grounded report shows how green infrastructure cleans the air and water, replenishes aquifers, reduces flooding, and moderates the climate. And the benefits go beyond improving the environment. Green infrastructure also promotes healthy exercise and access to more locally grown food. It makes communities safer and even helps reduce crime. It also boosts the economy as it attracts business, raises property values, and lowers energy and healthcare costs.

The authors, both practicing professionals in planning and design, present six principles for successful green infrastructure projects. Detailed case studies describe these principles at work from north Texas to southeastern Philadelphia to suburban Kansas. Planners, urban designers, and landscape architects will find proven ideas for making their regions, cities, and neighborhoods more resilient and sustainable.


Community Strategies for Safer Pedestrian & Bicyclist Environments

Creating or modifying environments to make it easier for people to walk or bike is a strategy that not only helps increase physical activity, but can make our communities better places to live. Communities designed to support physical activity are often called active communities. The Guide to Community Preventive Services recommends strategies to increase physical activity that are related to walkability—community-scale urban design, street-scale urban design, and improving access to places for physical activity (including providing maps and descriptive information).

Check out the resources below for even more ways to increase physical activity in the community.

BE Active: Connecting Routes + Destinations

This package of resources can help state and local health departments, public health professionals, and community organizations as they aim to build more activity-friendly communities. To increase physical activity, the Community Preventive Services Task Force (CPSTF) recommends built environment approaches that combine one or more interventions to improve pedestrian or bicycle transportation systems (activity-friendly routes) with one or more land use and community design interventions (everyday destinations).

Zoning for Walkability

Zoning regulations can be used to foster walkable communities. The following resources relate to this strategy.


2018 Arizona Food Summit
Rescheduled: August 2-3
Tucson, AZ
Registration will be sent to all AALC members

"Social Equity by Design"
Environmental Research Design Association
June 6-9, 2018, Oklahoma City, OK

ASHEcon 7th Annual Conference on Economics and Public Health
American Society of Health Economics
June 10–13, 2018
Atlanta, Georgia

2018 Annual Research Meeting
Academy of Health
June 24–26, 2018
Seattle, Washington

Pushing the Boundaries of Population Health Science: Social Inequalities, Biological Processes, and Policy Implications
Interdisciplinary Association for Population Health Science
October 3–5, 2018
Washington, DC

Evidence for Action: Encouraging Innovation and Improvement
Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management
November 8–10, 2018
Washington, DC

Walk/Bike/Places 2018
Project for Public Spaces
Sep. 16-19, 2018
New Orleans, LA


USDA Announces Support Available for Specialty Crops, the Local Food Sector, and Agricultural Marketing

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) recently announced nearly $89 million in available funding to support specialty crop growers, strengthen local and regional food systems, and explore new market opportunities for farmers and ranchers. USDA helps fund projects that bolster rural economies across the country.

The Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP) enhances the competitiveness of U.S. grown specialty crops, including fruits, vegetables, dried fruit, tree nuts, horticulture and nursery crops, including floriculture. Over $72 million in block grants will be awarded to State departments of agriculture, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

States must submit SCBGP applications electronically through by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on Thursday, May 24, 2018. Organizations or individuals interested in the SCBGP should contact their State department of agriculture for more information on how each State awards sub grants.

The Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program will split a total of $26 million in funding between the Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP) and the Local Food Promotion Program (LFPP). FMPP helps fund direct farmer-to-consumer marketing activities through capacity building; and community development, training and technical assistance projects. LFPP projects require a 25 percent match and focus on planning and implementation of local and regional food intermediary supply chain development.

Applications for FMPP and LFPP must be submitted electronically through by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on Monday, May 7, 2018.

The Federal-State Marketing Improvement Program (FSMIP) supports exploration of new domestic and international market opportunities for U.S. food and agricultural products and encourages research and innovation aimed at improving marketing system efficiency and performance. State departments of agriculture, State colleges and universities, and other eligible State agencies may apply for over $1 million in funding available in 2018.

Grant applications for FSMIP must be submitted electronically through by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on Monday, May 7, 2018.

Applicants are urged to start the registration process as soon as possible to ensure that they meet the application deadline. Applicants are also encouraged to submit their application well in advance of the posted due date. Any grant application submitted after the due date will not be considered unless the applicant provides documentation of an extenuating circumstance that prevented their timely submission of the grant application. Read more in AMS Late and Non-Responsive Application Policy.

For more information about these programs, visit the AMS Grants & Opportunities web page and learn more about eligibility and grant uses at What AMS Grant is Right for Me?
Environmental Justice EPA - Grant Writing Basics

The EPA has developed the following tips to help applicants (especially those new to the federal grant application process) demystify the FOA and position themselves for a solid submission:
  1. Register with and assign roles to your team before digging into an FOA or creating a workspace. If you don’t set up your account properly, you risk facing delays when you are ready to begin work on the application.
  2. Read the FOA’s eligibility requirements carefully. After all, you don’t want to spend hours on an application only to realize later that you are not eligible to apply.
  3. Preview the forms that you will need to fill out, including any optional ones that might require extra work or file attachments. Identify information or agreements you need that will take a while to track down.
  4. Try to visualize what a successful application will look like. Break it down into its component parts budget data, narrative and storytelling, standard form data, etc.
  5. Jot down the agency contact listed in the opportunity. And if you need to, establish a line of communication early in the process so that if you have any program-related questions you can quickly reach out.
  6. Plan to submit the final application at least a few days before the closing date, allowing yourself time to fix errors if any are encountered when you click submit.
AALC Events

Fri., May. 4 -

Spring Planning Meeting

Arizona Dept. of Health Services  9:00 - Noon

Wed., May. 9 -

Monthly Meeting

Maricopa County Department of Public Health  - 9:00 - 10:30am

Dial-in #: (605) 472-5814
Access Code: 383-185-253

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