White House announces green initiatives for Baltimore

Baltimore will receive federal funds to create and restore green space, monitor water quality, and start educational programs, the White House announced today.

Among the initiatives is the creation of the country's first Village Blue Project, providing real-time information about the water quality in the Jones Falls River as monitored by the EPA and U.S. Geological Survey.

Baltimore will also start a new pilot program called the Green Resources and Outreach for Watersheds (GROW) that will provide free or low-cost resources for communities to turn vacant lots into parks and manage storm water. Along with that, the National Park Service and Maryland Department of Natural Resources are kicking in funding to support the Department of Recreation Parks' efforts to address recreation needs of the 21st century, which dovetails with the Green Network Plan that will turn vacant lots into new parks.

Masonville Cove, a 54-acre wildlife refuge in Brooklyn created in partnership with the the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, will be expanded over the next 10 years to include watersheds of Jones Falls, Gwynns Falls, and the Patapsco River.

Lastly, 10 city schools will have natural habitats built to educate students on environmental resources and encourage environmental stewardship.

In announcing these new plans, Obama administration officials praised the efforts of the National Aquarium, Chesapeake Conservancy, and and Chesapeake Center for Youth Development to showcase Baltimore's natural resources to the public.

"In the long run, these actions will revitalize neighborhoods while protecting the Baltimore watershed and improving water quality in the Inner Harbor and the Middle Branch rivers," according to the announcement. "Many of these programs are the first of their kind in the country, helping cement Baltimore as a growing center for urban environmental innovation."

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