U.S. Department of Agriculture

U.S. Department of Agriculture

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) provides leadership on food, agriculture, natural resources and related issues. The US Forest Service is the primary agency in the USDA promoting the use of green infrastructure techniques.

What is green infrastructure at USDA?

USDA defines green infrastructure as identifying the best lands to accommodate development, in order to help communities balance environmental and economic goals through strategies that lead to smarter, sustainable land uses. The US Forest Service further defines green infrastructure as a strategic conservation planning approach focused on how to identify the best lands to conserve and the best lands to accommodate development, in order to help communities balance environmental and economic goals through strategies that lead to smarter, sustainable land uses.

What USDA departments are involved in green infrastructure?

Rural Development (RD) is committed to helping improve the economy and quality of life in rural America. RD programs support water and sewer systems, assisting regions in creating self-sustaining, long-term economic development, among many other priorities in rural America. Communities have utilized RD programs to implement green infrastructure in areas like improvements in wastewater disposal.

The Forest Service has a long history of promoting green infrastructure. The department focuses on urban sustainability including green infrastructure, urban forest sustainability, stormwater management, and smart growth. In addition to the various programs implemented by the Forest Service, The Green Infrastructure Community of Practice is a collaborative network of organizations and agencies that are actively involved in promoting and/or implementing the green infrastructure approach to strategic conservation.

The Urban and Community Forestry Program provides technical, financial, educational, and research services to states, cities, and nonprofit groups so they can plant, protect, maintain, and utilize wood from community trees and forests to maximize environmental, social and economic benefits. Urban and Community Forestry Program has been a major advocate of green infrastructure planning and development as a method for providing systematic and strategic networks of forest and open space in urban and rural areas.

The Natural Resources Conservation Service’s (NRCS) natural resources conservation programs help reduce soil erosion, enhance water supplies, improve water quality, increase wildlife habitat, and reduce damages caused by floods and other natural disasters. In addition, NRCS provides programs that assist in the protection, restoration and enhancement of privately owned wetlands, forestlands and wildlife habitats.

The Farm Service Agency (FSA) provides programs that help agricultural producers protect environmentally sensitive land, decrease erosion, restore wildlife habitat, and safeguard ground and surface water.

Additional USDA green infrastructure resources:

  • Urban and Community Forestry Green Infrastructure provides green infrastructure resources related to urban forestry, such as planning an urban forest, protecting and developing an urban tree canopy, and stormwater management using trees to improve water quality.
  • The Conservation Fund works to help the Forest Service fulfill their conservation goals by providing infrastructure planning, community development and other sustainability tools.
  • National Urban and Community Forestry Advisory Council (NUCFAC) reports directly to the Secretary of Agriculture. NUCFAC was created to synthesize the full spectrum of views into a consistent vision, as a foundation for practical policy on urban forestry. The advisory council offers challenges, cost-share grants, and other forms of support to research and build the capacity of the green infrastructure movement.
  • The Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program helps governmental agencies identify and protect environmentally sensitive land.

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