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NS1.0
Natural Systems
Protect Water Quality and Avoid Runoff
Protecting water quality and avoiding runoff that causes erosion is important to maintaining the health of the Flint Hills. Riparian vegetation can reduce or prevent soil erosion, improve air and water quality, and assist in recharging groundwater and aquifers. This strategy focuses on practices to preserve, repair, enhance, and protect the Flint Hills water bodies and riparian zones.
( 1 votes)
NS1.1
Protect Riparian Zones

This tools highlights educational information, examples, and resources for riparian buffer restoration. A comprehensive, regional approach to how the Flint Hills landowners address the health of their riparian zones can result in enhanced water quality for the region. Utilizing existing programs through the Kansas Water Office, USDA and NRCS to establish buffer zones, stabilize banks, and increase the health of habitat that slows and cleans surface flow to the streams and rivers provides an important transition between the terristrial and aquatic environment with soils that are rich in nutrients and have the capacity to hold much water and recharge groundwater sources. Healthy riparian zones also provide protection from flooding. Encroaching on this ecosystem is harmful not only to the plant and animals but also to the quality and quantity of water available to people in the watershed. 

Image from Soil Restoration Technologies website

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( 0 votes)
NS1.2
Draft Model Riparian Buffer Legislation

Counties and cities across the country are protecting their valuable river and stream corridors by drafting model legislation for that calls for limiting construction and other damaging practices specific distances from riparian zones. Comprehensive strategies utilize in-field, edge-of-fieldd, and streamside buffers based on classification of water bodies and soils. Buffers are often considered one of the most important factors influencing non-point source pollutants entering surface water. In addition, buffers can stabilize stream banks, affect local fauna, moderate flooding, help recharge underground water supplies, and provide land owners with valuable biomass, timber, and nut crops.

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NS2.0
Natural Systems
Encourage Productive Conservation Programs
There are many programs that both private land owners and public entities can use to conserve prairie land and continue to use it for productive purposes. Private property owners can take advantage of conservation easements to permanently conserve a valued landscape while maintaining private ownership.
( 2 votes)
NS2.1
Conservation Easements

Conservation easements can permanently conserve a valued landscape while maintaining private ownership. A conservation easement is agreed to on a voluntary basis. It is a legal agreement between a land owner and a government or land trust (a private land conservation organization). The landowner retains private ownership of land. Landowner participants typically have input into specific provisions tailored to their own circumstances. While the conservation easement may prohibit residential, commercial and industrial development, agreements can still allow the landowner to (a) continue operating the land for agricultural purposes; (b) retain control of who may access the property; and (c) sell or transfer ownership of the property. The conservation easement restrictions continue to apply to future owners of the property. In Kansas, land conserved with conservation easements remain subject to property taxes.

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( 0 votes)
NS2.2
Develop model ordinances for land preservation

Local land use ordinances can have a big impact on conserving the tall grass prairie. Flint Hills model ordinances could be developed based on regionally sensitive best practices to maintain and enhance our natural areas. Examples include wetlands and riparian corridor setbacks, Transfer and Purchase of Development Rights programs, Scenic Corridor standards, or future land use and zoning ordinances. These ordinances would be adopted into the local city or county ordinances in order to control development and conserve the tall grass prairie.

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( 0 votes)
NS2.3
Support land management through leasing and ownership engagement

Develop an educational tool for absentee landowners, as property owned by an absentee landowner does not have to sit unused and unmanaged. This tool would be used by the landowner to clearly provide the options if they are considering leasing to ensure best tenants and tenant practices for managing their land. This informational packet could then be implemented by realtors, extension agents, conservation organizations.

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NS3.0
Natural Systems
Noxious and Invasive Species Education and Control Methods

This strategy supports programs and research to control noxious and invasive species. Education and partnerships are key to this strategy and tools includes support for research agencies to analyze best practices, advocacy for best practices through regional networks, and support for land owners to implement control programs.

( 3 votes)
NS3.1
Support for the Control of Noxious and Invasive Plant Species

The purpose of this tool is to assist in controlling and/or eradicating invasive plants in the prairie, and other sensitive habitats, where they could cause harm to native vegetation and the ecosystem.  The Kansas Noxious Weed Law requires every person, company, organization or agency to control, and eradicate those species declared by the legislature to be noxious.The type of invasive will likely determine the control method. Some control tools include biological, chemical applications, mechanical removal, cultural, or a mix of approaches. Education and partnerships with multiple stakeholders and knowledge bases, including state and local government are key to the success of this tool. Some of the considerations that require a wide body of knowledge to navigate include seasonal timing and pollination cycles, potential air pollution, potential water pollution, and unintended side effects to native species of plants and wildlife. Crafting a specific plan of action with your County Weed Director, is good place for a landowner to begin. The Association of County Directors can then connect multiple county's initiatives to make regional networks for greater impact.

Image of Sericea Lespedeza, a challenging invasive species in the Tallgrass Prairie (Image from Professor Summer's Web Garden website) 

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( 0 votes)
NS3.2
"Report a Weed" program

"Report a Weed"  is a handy app that can be downloaded free of charge from Early Detection and Distribution Mapping System and start tracking the weeds for science and eradication. While the Department and the County Weed Directors are always on the lookout for new populations of noxious and invasive weeds they need the help of engaged citizens and landowners to report what your see and increase the accuracy of information for better control. Partnerships between research institutions and governmental agencies to customize this tool for Flint Hills communities could increase the monitoring and control of noxious and invasive plants region-wide and beyond.

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NS4.0
Natural Systems
Promote Appropriate Burning of the Prairie
Burning has a role in the healthy tallgrass prairie life-cycle, but air quality is also important. Smoke models show land owners potential of fire in their area of contributing to regional air quality. Landowners can use this as a tool to plan days to burn the prairie. This tool support the Kansas Flint Hills Smoke Management Plan and making smoke models easier to use. Other ideas include creating a fire tools coop to provide small landowners with the tool guidance necessary to adequately and safely burn their land. Implement the Kansas Flint Hills Smoke Management Plan by continuing to refine...
( 0 votes)
NS4.1
Implement Kansas Flint Hills Smoke Management Plan
Burning has a role in the healthy tallgrass prairie life-cycle, but air quality is also important. Smoke models show land owners potential of fire in their area of contributing to regional air quality. Landowners can use this as a tool to plan days to burn the prairie. Create a Fire Tools Coop to provide small landowners with the tool guidance necessary to adequately and safely burn their land. Implement the Kansas Flint Hills Smoke Management Plan by continuing to refine regional burning model, spreading awareness of plan, and developing tools to make using the model more convenient for ranchers.
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NS5.0
Natural Systems
Educate Citizens about the Flint Hills Ecosystem and the Grasslands of the World
Conservation of the Flint Hills’ natural system depends on educating people about the importance of the prairie. Incorporating curriculum about the Flint Hills ecosystem into our public education system would create a baseline of knowledge for the people of the Flint Hills. For education beyond K-12, a Flint Hills speakers bureau could be established at the Discovery Center or at one of our colleges or universities. A web site with links to organizations and individuals offering Flint Hills learning opportunities should be available and easily accessible, and the Flint Hills Discovery Center serves as essential partner in welcoming citizens to...
( 0 votes)
NS5.1
Create K-12 Educational Curriculum about the Flint Hills Ecosystem
Many citizens are unaware of their own location within the Flint Hills. Providing citizens and students a better understanding of their place within the Flint Hills and the importance of the grasslands to the world can create a connection and help each of us to become a larger part of the Flint Hills. Regional educational partners, from the Flint Hills Discovery Center, Kansas State and Emporia State and local USDs could serve as regional facilitators for building educational curriculum modules that follow the 'flows' of the grasslands in serving the world, through cultural, social and natural systems, bringing food systems and rural economics into every classroom and cultural center in the Flint Hills.
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( 0 votes)
NS5.2
Create a Flint Hills Speakers Bureau at the Discovery Center
Conservation of our Tallgrass natural system depends on educating people about the importance of the prairie. Unless people understand prairie ecosystems, they will not preserve them. A Flint Hills speakers bureau could be established at the Discovery Center or at one of our colleges or universities. Organizations interested in booking a speaker or a prairie education program could make arrangements through the clearing house. The clearing house could also be an electronic repository of Flint Hills information. A web site with links to organizations and individuals offering Flint Hills learning opportunities should be available and easily accessible. Create a local TEDx event with the region's best minds on a variety of topics to result in a series of educational videos that can feed cultural curricula materials.
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SS1.0
Social Systems
Strengthen Public Schools
Public schools are central to ensuing our youth have opportunities in the future and become well-rounded citizens. This tool supports funding public schools, strengthening core curriculum, and updating programs to include traditional 4 year college preparatory work and technical career pathways.
( 0 votes)
SS1.1
Teach Technical Career Pathways

A traditional high school education today prepares students for careers requiring a four-year college degree because most employers want employees with training and education beyond high school. However, many students are not ready or interested in post-secondary education.  Career and technical training programs can offer valuable and relevant skill, help retain students that might otherwise drop out, and provide them with marketable certifications and starting jobs.  These jobs often help fulfill an important skilled labor gap in the market place. It often happens that students who discover technical aptitudes eventually build confidence and purpose and find their way on a path to life-long-learning and advancement.  This tool is about developing robust career and technical programs to teach skills that are in high demand in the 21st Century job market.  

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( 0 votes)
SS1.2
Develop an Educational Exchange Program

This tool encourages regional schools to develop educational exchange programs by offering an opportunity for students from around the world to experience rural farm and ranch life, prairie ecosystem, tribal culture and middle western culture.  At the same time exchanging allows Kansas students to experience the wider world.  For all involved exchange programs expand perspectives, foster understanding and diplomacy skills, improve life skills and maturity.  These experiences help students find their unique career path and life path and probably help them to gain admittance to universities of their choosing.  

Photo by the LEAF Project, 2011

CC BY-SA 2.0

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( 0 votes)
SS1.3
Strengthen Networks of Parents Tracking School Legislation Issues

In this age of social media it is easier than ever for groups of parents and concerned citizens to form networks of information to help watch how legislators are voting on issues important to education. In fact many networks already exist all across Kansas and could be expanded or used as a model for grassroots efforts to unite and inform. Information is power if enough concerned parents are paying attention to and holding their legislators accountable for policies that strengthens education for all children. This tool promotes the formation of local networks that help parents of all parties and affiliations to come together as informed and engaged citizens around educational issues that impact every aspect of economic prosperity and quality of life in the future. Any network that promotes informed dialog is an opportunity to raise awareness and create a culture of accountability among parents and citizens. Kansas Schools are only as good as those who are willing to stay informed, to vote responsibly, and to hold their leaders accountable to quality education.

School

 

Photo by Marlon Doss, 2010 

CC BY SA 2.0 

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SS2.0
Social Systems
Provide Efficient Services in Rural Areas
Provide Efficient Services in Rural Areas
( 0 votes)
SS2.1
Provide Coordinated Rural Health and Social Services

The challenges of providing healthcare services to a geographically widespread aging rural population are many. How can current health care providers extend their services without the heavy investment of new bricks and mortar facilities? Examples around the world of tele-medicine, mobile care providers, and home health services are changing the way service providers are able to provide for our communities and our continuum of care. Through creating a network of service providers for physical, mental, and social services from each of the major health and social service care providers in the region, the overall quality of life for all ages increases.

 

 

 

https://susiecookhc.wordpress.com/2011/03/04/rural-healthcare-advances-in-telemedicine/

from article “Rural Healthcare advances in Telemedicine”

 

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SS3.0
Social Systems
Improve Public Health and Wellbeing
Improving health and wellbeing in the Flint Hills includes support for physical and mental health programs, making goals for improvement, and measuring progress. Kansas University is working to improve health in the rural parts of the state by training doctors, offering incentives, and developing technology, such as telemedicine.
( 0 votes)
SS3.1
Measure Well Being, Set goals for Improvement, Track Progress

Creating an organized community-based use of the Kansas Health Matters tool (http://www.kansashealthmatters.org/) could provide trackable local data on the health and well-being of Flint Hills communities. “Community dashboards” and the local networks created through collecting this information generate new opportunities to drive local programming and projects that proactively address local needs.

From www.kansashealthmatters.org website

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( 0 votes)
SS3.2
Advocate for Parks & Trails

The Flint Hills Nature Trail (Kanza Rails – Trails Conservancy), the Flint Hills Legacy Conservation Area, and the Kansas River National Water Trail are outstanding programs to connect people with the unique habitat of the Flint Hills Tallgrass Region and the prairie of central and eastern Kansas. Growing these programs to connect more easements of land and water, can increase the investment in and general awareness and appreciation of this important natural resource.  (See Natural Resources – Encourage Productive Conservation Programs, NS2.0; See Cultural Systems – Develop Tribal Cultural Assets, CS3.0) 

 

http://www.fws.gov/refuge/flint_hills/partnerships/flint.html

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SS4.0
Social Systems
Improve Opportunities for Aging in Place
Develop neighborhoods, housing, and services to support ‘aging in place.’ ‘Aging in place’ refers to the ability of communities to support elderly residents in diverse neighborhoods with a variety of housing types, and housing units that are designed to accommodate limited mobility. This tool includes local communities adopting aging in place design guidelines for housing units and neighborhood design and designing city services, such as transit, with the elderly in mind.
( 0 votes)
SS4.1
Encourage Certified Aging-in-Place Specialists (CAPS)

A Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS) is someone who understands the aging-in-place home remodeling market and the technology, tools and resources that are available for seniors to age in place. Individuals with this designation are trained in the needs of the aging population, common remodeling projects and expenditures, codes and standards, product ideas and resources. CAPS professionals are trained by the National Association of Home Builders. While many people who undergo the training are members of the building profession, other interested professionals, such as occupational therapists and other health care professionals as well as those involved in planning and land use are encouraged to seek CAPS certification.  

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SS5.0
Social Systems
Develop a Flint Hills Volunteer Hub
The dispersed nature of rural populations means that access to people and their skills for addressing common problems and opportunties is limited. At the same time, rural societies have a tradition of helping each other. Volunteerkansas.org is a website that connects volunteers with volunteer opportunities. Investigate expanding this to areas of the Flint Hills that are not aware or haven't been educated on such tools.
SS6.0
Social Systems
Develop a Leadership Mentorship Program
Kristina Ricketts of the University of Kentucky, identified four factors of a successful rural community; effective communication, development of social capital, community engagement and collaboration across and within communities. Effective community leadership is an essential component for positive change in the Flint Hills Region in order to create, respond to common visions, and respond to concerns. The Leadership Mentorship Program helps identify and develop emerging leaders in the region particularly youth and underepresented groups. Need to explore connections with 4H at K-State.
SS7.0
Social Systems
Increase Healthy Food Access in Rural Communities
Increase Healthy Food Access in Rural Communities
CS1.0
Cultural Systems
Develop National Recreation/Cultural Destinations
Create well-known outdoor recreation programs and marketing that attracts a national audience to the rare and beautiful ecological treasures of the Flint Hills.
( 0 votes)
CS1.1
Develop a Regional Recreation Map

Mapping natural, cultural, and historical assets together on one map and on an interactive website will increase local awareness of these assets and help visitors passing through to discover reasons to stay in the area longer and come back often to explore.  A comprehensive map of the area attractions is easy to distribute wherever visitor information is already distributed.  It makes sense to centralize in the information on the Travel Kansas website.

Map of Wisconsin park, forest , recreaional area or trail
http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/parks/findapark.html
Map of Public Parks, Natural Areas and Access Sites near Elk Rapids, Michigan
http://www.antrimcounty.org/erpr/images/FigC2-800.jpg
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( 0 votes)
CS1.2
Develop Regional Partnerships to Create a Walk-in Adventures Program

This tool investigates regional partnerships between large private land holders and parks and recreation facilities and services. Like the Walk-in Hunting Access Program developed by Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, a Kansas Walk-in Adventures program could allow hikers, bikers and school children on certain private land under specified times and conditions.  This partnership could open new avenues for education, commerce, tourism and adventure along trails that link people in new ways to the ecosystem.   Private trails can help to link regional destinations as well as state and national trail ways and recreational land.  With new technologies at the ready, an App could link or record registered users to access lands and give property owners assurance of accountability and responsibility in practice.  The program could help land owners involved in restoration projects with modest funding, will providing an opportunity for young science students to learn about the unique prairie ecosystem in their own back yard.  

Image 1 Needs Citation
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( 0 votes)
CS1.3
Create Flint Hills Cultural Tours
Develop coordinated events, programs and bus tours around themes such as: tribal paths across the Flint Hills, county fairs, music tours, stone wall tours etc. with local historians, ranchers, ecologists, artists, and musicians at each stop to share the many perspectives of the Flint Hills.
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CS2.0
Cultural Systems
Connect Arts Organizations and Resources
Create opportunites for Arts Organizations to work together to seek funding for the arts, to share facilities and resources and to offer arts incubators, educational programs and generaly to attract more artists and creatives to the wide open spaces, the light and the lifestyle of the Flint Hills Region.
( 0 votes)
CS2.1
Create an Arts-based Business Training Program

A regional arts institution working hand in hand with statewide cultural organizations that would provide arts education for both individuals and institutional or company teams to enhance big picture insights as well as enhancing specific professional and technical skills. The format can include custom training, workshops, talks, conferences, regular networking events to share ideas, and special events. All classes and workshops are co-taught by highly qualified teaching artists and business strategists familiar with the local economic challenges and relevant applications.

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( 0 votes)
CS2.2
Create Regional Arts Incubator Programs and Facilities

This tool involves the creation of a region-wide set of programs and spaces for artists, arts educators, and community outreach. Through working hand in hand with existing regional arts and culture organizations as well as schools, the non-profit organization leading this endeavor appropriates existing structures in communities where the need is greatest for studio space, exhibit space, classes for all ages, and community workshop and meeting space. These incubators are centers for creation and interaction.

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CS3.0
Cultural Systems
DevelopTribal Cultural Assets
Support local tribal efforts to preserve and promote a better understanding of tribal languages, historical events and figures, belief systems and environmental conservation practices through cultural tours, events, and other educational programs.
( 0 votes)
CS3.1
Develop Tribal Tours and Trails Throughout the Region

This tool creates outdoor recreation and education opportunities for all ages and backgrounds around the history of the Plains Indian tribes of the region. Partnerships and collaboration between state and tribal governments, and state-wide cultural agencies will allow more resources to be allotted to expand existing trail programs to include tribal information (history, cultural traditions, language, environmental education). This tool works best when it is combined with the Develop National Recreation/Cultural Destinations tools.

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CS4.0
Cultural Systems
Support and connect civic leadership organizations
Engaged community members taking responsibility for the betterment of their communities are a key ingredient to a healthy region. Optional forum for individual citizens, business owners, institutions, and organizations to connect on shared concerns across the great distances of the Flint Hills region can provide ways to share best practices, resources, and a structure for accountability.
CS5.0
Cultural Systems
Celebrate the Cultural Impact of Fort Riley
Fort Riley has long had major economic, environmental, and cultural impact on the region. Its history, military culture, current initiatives, and environmental protocol have wide spanning implications for the future of the region. Cultivating wider awareness of this culture, past and present, can build stronger bridges between the Fort and its surrounding communities.
( 0 votes)
CS5.1
Expand the reach of the Fort Riley Cultural Exhibit

Develop an exhibit that could travel or be open to visitors on the military base that shares the role that Fort Riley has had in preserving the prairie, regional culture, and history.

Image credit: Woody Hibbard
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FR1.0
Farming and Ranching
Promote Agritourism
needs description (aligns with walk-in adventures)
( 0 votes)
FR1.1
Develop an Agricultural Tourism Directory

There are already many tourism programs in the Flint Hills with an agricultural theme from dude ranches, walk-in hunting, produce and meat markets, rural bed and breakfasts, prairie burning or prairie chicken viewing, and petting zoos.  Some of these businesses have an on-line presence to help attract visitors to participate in a unique Flint Hills farm and ranch experience and others spread by word of mouth.  Many of these programs are linked to websites like www.TravelKS.com which offer listings for lodging and ranch experiences, but many cannot be found in these directories.  Building upon this directory to make it easy and affordable for small agritourism businesses to be listed and further linking the Kansas directory to other national directories is a way to broaden the access for tourists seeking an authentic rural experience in the unique and endangered ecosystem of the Flint Hills Prairie.  

directory 2
Image by K. Latham, 2008 cc:  Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
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( 0 votes)
FR1.2
Diversify Farm and Ranch Adventure/Stay Programs

Many of the best directories of agricultural tourism opportunities attract people to them because there is something for everyone and many diverse activities to explore over time. A robust, comprehensive and diverse group of agricultural tourism opportunities helps the region to appeal to a broader base of visitors and resident participants. These may be dude ranches, walk-in hunting programs, produce and meat markets, rural bed and breakfasts, prairie burning or prairie chicken supervised viewing, U-pick farms and petting zoos. There are many adventure and agricultural experiences that are uniquely Flint Hills that may be operating in isolation and could benefit from better connections to other regional opportunities. Synergies may be found between neighbors offering similar services that could be mutually supportive. And, where there are gaps in what is being offered there is an opportunity for a new business or service to be offered that will complement other things happening within the region.

The Kaw Valley Tours are one example of a successful farm tour located north and south of the Kansas River.
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( 0 votes)
FR1.3
Coordinate Farm and Ranch Tourism Events

Coordinated tourism events are beneficial for individual farms and ranches and for the community and tourism within the region. Local and regional events can attract visitors, encourage repeat visitation and heighten regional awareness. They celebrate local treasures and build a cultural identity.  Establishing tourism events can also lead to increased development to support the event improving the overall economy.  

Photo by Dan Paluska, 2009

CC BY 2.0

Photo by Ruth Hartnup, 2014 CC BY 2.0

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FR2.0
Farming and Ranching
Explore Innovative Farm and Ranch Practices
Explore Innovative Farm and Ranch Practices
( 0 votes)
FR2.1
Encourage Innovative Practices in Land Management and Energy, and Water Conservation

This tool is about recognizing and promoting all of the innovative farming and ranching practices happening regionally that result in conservation of energy, water and the land’s natural resources.  There is no one-size fits all solution, so having a toolbox of ideas to consider is helpful.  Working with existing organizations with a conservation mission, it is important to link these resources and strategies together as an educational resource.  Creating a network of farmers and ranchers to discover what works both in terms of protecting the land, and the economics of farm and ranch businesses.  Developing a robust dialog regionally about what works and what implementation challenges are to overcome is an important aspect of this tool. 

This tool considers strategies such as:

  • Utilize conservation easements and the transfer of development rights as legal tools for innovative land management practices that support conservation
  • Establish and support innovative agricultural practices that conserve energy and water use
  • Support older and absentee land owners in land management practices to encourage continued agriculture and conservation
  • Support education and research about the impacts of rotational grazing techniques
  • Promote burning cooperatives that educate, train, and supply needed resources to support rotational and “patch” burning techniques and the implementation of flint hills smoke management plan
  • Support programs that help control invasive species
  • Support and network the farmers and ranchers who participate in such programs

Photo by USDA NRCS South Dakota 
CC Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Photo by USFWS Mountain-Prairie
CC  Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

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FR3.0
Farming and Ranching
Market Flint Hills Farm and Ranch Products
This tool supports the development and growth of a brand for Flint Hills products that furthers the Flint Hills’ status as a home for high quality products. Work with producers and buyers to refine Flint Hills brand. Connect this with the From the Land of Kansas Brand being developed by the Department of Agricuture, and the Flint Hlls Brand tool mentioned in the Opportunity section. Regional jurisidictions and partners should fund a regional branding campaign and develop a coordinated marketing strategy that puts a 'face' to the region for the outside world.
( 0 votes)
FR3.1
Develop Flint Hills Brand & Certification

The Flint Hills is the last stand of the tall grass prairie, holding rich ties to the cattle culture and tribal heritage of the West.  Products from this region could be certified and branded to protect their authenticity and more importantly to protect the way in which prairie resources are maintained as a part of their production.  The Flint Hill Brand might come to symbolize a profound responsibility to the land and its people.  

The American Grassfed Association and other certification standards exist, including the USDA's Organic certification, yet support or development of criteria that would promote the integrity of the beef or livestock grown in the Flint Hills could set a new standard and fill a new niche in this quickly expanding market. The research, investigation and institution of certification procedures could open new avenues for local producers, distributors and marketers of Flint Hills beef products.

http://www.jasonwiebedairy.com/

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FR4.0
Farming and Ranching
Enable Youth to Continue and Start Farming and Ranching
Enable Youth to Continue and Start Farming and Ranching
( 0 votes)
FR4.2
Establish Beginning Farm and Ranch Incubator Programs

Farm incubators are typically one or more parcels of land that are set aside in a trust or easement specifically dedicated to controlled-lease operations that encourage small-scale and innovative agricultural practices that might otherwise be discouraged by large scale farm economics. Often one or more new farmers will farm and market products under their own farm business enterprise, often with access to training programs and technical assistance opportunities about farm business and production practices. These farmers gain access to the land in exchange for some form of “rent” that may also take the form of fresh farm products or other services donated to communities in need.

Image Credit: Dwight Sipler
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EO1.0
Economic Opportunity
Improve High Speed Internet Connectivity
The future of rural America may actually be more dependent on access to the information super highway than any other tranportation system. As the American workforce ages, and employment landscape shifts to a more entrepreneurial-driven culture, rural America will be faced with a growing digital-divide. Kansas rural communities should form a rural congress to devise rural plans and platforms for develop solutions for the future.
( 0 votes)
EO1.1
Develop Publicly-Led Broadband Initiatives

Description of Tool

Access to affordable high speed internet is necessary infrastructure in today’s connected world.  Residents need high speed internet to access employment opportunities, goods and services, health care, and educational resources.  Rural towns need access to broadband internet to attract businesses and jobs. Businesses need internet to compete and to collaborate.  When the infrastructure for broadband does not extend into more rural areas, State and local government can adopt policies and initiate public-private partnerships to bring broadband networks to rural areas. 

 

Municipally-led Broadband

Municipalities can construct their own fiber networks or facilitate a nonprofit or corporation in development of a network through a variety of policies and projects.  For example some communities develop a ‘dig-once’ policy that require installation of fiber optic conduits whenever a public construction project requires digging in the right of way.  Others work with utility pole owners (usually phone or electric companies) to develop access agreements and to make the poles ready to receive cable.  Anything a local municipality can do to facilitate the construction process through expedited access to GIS information or by documenting where there is need or fiber ready access will help to make the construction process more efficient and appealing to providers.  Some municipalities make codes or incentives for developers to include pathways for cable in their projects.  In some cases, simply collaborating with local fiber optic cable providers to understand their needs and schedules is enough to discover the best ways to facilitate the process and reduce the cost of installing infrastructure.  Joining a support network, such as Next Century Cities can help towns and cities learn from each other about what is working.  Because a broadband network is a significant cost, private-public partnerships and collaborations are becoming an increasingly popular approach to broadband projects. 

 

State-led Broadband

The State Broadband Initiative (SBI) can help communities develop the much needed "last mile" of infrastructure to support a 21st Century Economy. Currently, Kansas ranks last in funding under the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) and SBI, with just over $7 Million awarded through the two programs.

 

The State Broadband Initiative grantees support the efficient and creative use of broadband technology to improve competition.  Some assist small businesses and community institutions in using the technology more effectively.

Mother Earth News

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( 0 votes)
EO1.2
Connect More Publicly-Accessible Computers & Internet Access to the Public

The public needs access to information on the internet regardless of income, age or education.  Libraries provide computer labs to the public and so could other public institutions and communities of faith.  Opening school computer labs to the public and expanding the hours of the computer lab could expand the usefulness of this resource and provide access to more people.  Connecting public computers into a searchable directory could allow those with limited access to find location with free computer and internet use available.  Programs for recycling donated computers and refurbishing them for public access is an important skill and local employment opportunity within communities that also supplies public institutions with low cost equipment.  Providing more computer literacy training programs in public places paired with programs for purchasing computers that have been recycled at low cost is a strategy for leveling the playing field.  


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( 0 votes)
EO1.3
Support Community-Led or Public-Private Wi-Fi Clouds

There are many examples across the US and UK where communities, community partnerships with Universities, organizations or companies have organized to provide city-wide, downtown district or localized Wi-Fi cloud zones for free or fee-service to attract businesses and improve community convenience. 

 There are already localized versions across the Flint Hills of Wi-Fi clouds in public and private sites, ranging from the single coffee spot to downtown districts, such as Wamego. In certain regions, these Wi-Fi clouds operate by membership or a fee structure paid for by venders or individual users.  In other locations, they operate free, through public or public-private partnerships to provide the service as a community benefit and to attract business in a certain development area.

 With the global economy becoming more and more dependent on the internet, accessible wife will be more central to a thriving economy.

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EO2.0
Economic Opportunity
Boost Entrepreneurialism
Communities throughout the country are coming up with new ways to spread the risk and encourage start-ups and entrepenuers through local angel investment funds and other innovate approaches. One technique is competitive and often crowdfunded business plan competitions. Often coordinated with Business and Economic training and with Business or Technical schools these competitions can spurt innovation and develop local partnerships that build future economies.
( 0 votes)
EO2.1
Develop Business Incubators

Many communities are providing affordable and flexible office spaces for a new class of entrepreneurs who need inexpensive overhead while launching new ideas and small businesses. Most incubators are non-profit organizations, some are public, and a few are private for-profit ventures. Some business incubators specialize in certain industries so that entrepreneurs can benefit from some level of collaboration. Others provide general studio and office space for a wide variety of businesses to get a foothold.  Often there are services offered to provide training and education to young entrepreneurs developing business and marketing skills.

The advantage for businesses is that owners get access to low cost space, shared resources, mentorship and training.  Sometimes potential capital sources from investors pay attention to businesses in the incubator.  State government, or economic development organizations also take an interest in these home-grown businesses lending support.  Most Incubators operate under a mission to have a positive effect on the local economy by maximizing the success of emerging businesses.

Photo by Sebastiaan ter Burg 2015 (CC-BY 2.0)

Hacking Culture Bootcamp @ Waag Society

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EO2.2
Provide Revolving Loan Opportunities for Small Businesses

Many smaller rural communities across Kansas face growing difficulties in procuring the necessary capital to provide small businesses and entrepreneurs the platform for growth. Revolving loan programs can offer gap financing at below market interest rates to help these businesses get started.  Revolving loans are often managed by local main street programs or business incubators.  These loans grow over time as they are repaid and have an increasing impact of the local economy over time.

 

Many revolving loans have a focus, such as launching downtown retail and service oriented businesses, high tech startups, or food and restaurant entrepreneurs, for example. Revolving loan funds are often paired with the kind of mentoring that business incubators can offer.

photo by US Department of Agriculture, Hunkpati Investment 2012 (CC BY 2.0)

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EO2.5
Educate Public about B(enefit)-Corp(oration)s
A benefit corporation or B corporation is a corporate form in the United States designed for for-profit entities that want to consider society and the environment in addition to profit in their decision making process. Benefit corporations differ from traditional corporations in regards to their purpose, accountability and transparency. The purpose of a benefit corporation is to create general public benefit, which is defined as a material positive impact on society and the environment. Kansas hasn't passed legislation allowing this form of corporation, support and movement on this issue, could offer new opportunities for Kansans.
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EO3.0
Economic Opportunity
Promote a Flint Hills Brand
Flint Hills Tallgrass-fed Beef could be just one sub-brand of an umbrella Flint Hills Brand that places the Flint Hills on the geographic map of American tourism, industry and culture. From the Land of Kansas is a state branding initiative that supports local producers by certifying our local resources. The Flint Hills is a unique geographic region, that offers its own unique gifts to the world. Branding can take-on various levels of product identification, from the original Sundance ethos, to the more local variant, but each can capture and brand a product, offering something that resonates with place and cements...
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EO3.1
Create Brand Licensing Procedures

Place-based initiatives that provide an umbrella for goods or services grown, produced or developed in a region are now commonplace, yet can provide a canvas for economic development and growth opportunities for areas as diverse as arts, tourism and value-added agricultural endeavors. 

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EO4.0
Economic Opportunity
Expand and Improve Succession Planning and Training
Rural America faces a growing challenge, as population continues to decline and towns and economies shrink, many of the businesses that came to be the cornerstones of many communities now face closure due to a failure to find someone to continue their practices. KU's Red Tire succession planning and partnering system is one example of how succession training might be developed to help rural communities in the future. It currently serves a certain sector of the economy, but expansion could help rural communities adapt and thrive in the future.
EO5.0
Economic Opportunity
Map Regional Assets & Resources
The FHRC currently supports planning for a five-county region immediately surrounding Fort Riley. The FHRC is currently working to coordinate GIS modeling of this region, yet, the Frontiers project has brought new networking opportunities to the table, which, if coordinated to the Regional Hub, could provide a centralized place for mapping regional assets, from heritage and tourism to industry and leadership.
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EO5.1
Complete the Flint Hills Regional Commercial/Industrial Site Selection tool
The newly formed Flint Hills Economic Development District is working on a region wide tool that is built upon the tool developed by Pottawaomie County and LocationOne Information Services (LOIS) that demonstrates sites that are shovel-ready for development and allows prospective businesses to compare sites and see many options that are available in one place. This tool also allows potential developers to understand the amenities within the area in terms of water ways, housing for workers, railways etc. Finishing this tool and expanding on the property owners who use this will help to show synergies between developments and help to concentrate development in places where there are mutual benefits. It also will allow communities to plan and influence where agricultural or ecological preserves might benefit from protection from development.
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EO6.0
Economic Opportunity
Improve Rural Networking Capacity
Bringing people together on a regular basis can stimulate new networks that promote civic engagemen, grow leadership and stimulate economic activity. This tool is about building the capacity for networking within the region. Start by identify champions in Tourism, Environmental Stewardship and Youth Focus to work together to increase outreach and partnerships so that Kansas can be on the cutting edge nationally of rural networking and resource-sharing; Creative innovation hubs that orient regional business and education incubators toward attracting young families and investing in opportunities for a young workforce.
EO7.0
Economic Opportunity
Leverage the Animal Health Corridor
America's Animal Health Corridor stretches from Manhattan to Columbia, MO and account for nearly 32% of total sales in the $19 billion global animal health market. With the relocation of NBAF and the Kansas Department of Agriculture to the Flint Hills, there is ample resources to leverage agro-bio technology development to the world. A logistics study could investigate the key drivers to industrial growth.
MT1.0
Mobility and Transportation
Improve Regional Transit
With the aging rural population and changing economic landscape, regional transit systems are becoming more important for transporting greater proportions of our 'at-risk' populations to basic services and daily needs. Regional transit can help economies and the health of communities by filling the transportation needs for segments of the population with decreasing alternatives.
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MT 1.1
Study Regional Transit Demand and Solutions

Regional transit demand may continue to grow as the urban centers within the Flint Hills continue to grow, become denser, and economic connections between urban areas continue to strengthen.  Residents and employees may look for alternative ways to get between destinations and between home and work. Transit can be a viable option that saves users money and increases productivity during long commutes while providing a catalyst for community revitalization and improved air quality. It can also be a valuable amenity for people that are not able to drive. 

A regional transit study and plan would help the region identify common transportation needs and enable individual jurisdictions to make transit investments that align with the overall region.  Regional transit planning generally starts with defining a vision, assessing the current conditions, identifying opportunities, setting goals and objectives, and formulating an implementation and financing plan.

 

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MT2.0
Mobility and Transportation
Add Scenic Bikeways to the By-ways Program
The Flint Hills is home to beautiful Scenic By-ways that act as conduits of commerce and culture to our region. The growth of experiential tourism and adventure tourism demands that states and local governments plan for a more 'embedded' experience in transportation, welcoming hikers, bikers and new modes of travel. Kansas and state and regional partners should develop Scenic Bike-ways, Trike-ways and Hike-ways that encourage residents and visitors to experience the Flint Hills.
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MT2.3
Promote Bicycle Facilities on Regional Roadways

The Flint Hills can encourage cycling by making improvements to regional roadway facilities designed to enhance bicycle safety and comfort.  Widening shoulders, posting bicycle signage, and painting bike lanes are potential strategies for improving bicycle facilities on regional roadways.   Planning that maps out where there are opportunities to both improve connectivity in and at the same time improve safety conditions will become the highest priority in a long term plan to improve bicycle infrastructure.  

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MT2.2
Continue to Promote and Develop Kansas National River Trail

The Kansas River, also known as the Kaw, was designated as a National River Trail in 2012, which enables the National Park Service to work with state and local government to improve access to the River and encourage public use.  Improvements include better signage along the river for paddlers, additional and better maintained and publicized access points, and greater publicity overall about the recreational opportunities the River affords. 

Outfitters

As the river becomes a more popular destination, there is an opportunity for additional outfitters to rent canoes and kayaks and provide services such as transportation to and from River access points.

 

Photo by Patrick Emerson, 2009 (CC BY-ND 2.0)


Photo by Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, 2010 (CC BY ND 2.0)

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MT 2.1
Support Rails to Trails Program

Rails to Trails is a program that converts unused railway corridors into multi-use paths for biking, walking, and, in some cases, horseback riding. The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy is a national nonprofit that is a leader in advocating for rails to trails and is supported by many local organizations, such as the Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy in the Flint Hills.

Supporting the Rails-to-Trails program can include several actions, such as identifying potential trail projects, advocate for policies to support and fund rails to trails projects at the local, state, and federal level, promoting trails, and organizing volunteers to building and maintain trails.

Photo by MoBikeFed, 2003 (CC BY 2.0)

Photo by Nicolas Henderson, 2012 (CC BY 2.0)

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MT3.0
Mobility and Transportation
Improve Transportation Infrastructure

Improve Transportation Infrastructure

MT4.0
Mobility and Transportation
Encourage Complete Streets, Alternative Transportation, and Mixed Use Development
Encourage Complete Streets, Alternative Transportation, and Mixed Use Development
MT5.0
Mobility and Transportation
Develop a Ride Share Program
Investigate public-private partnerships and other means to provide rideshare capability to areas outside the current operations to bridge identified service gaps. Utilize the latest technologies to connect transit to riders locally and regionally.
MT6.0
Mobility and Transportation
Conduct a Trucking and Rail Logistics Study

Conduct a Trucking and Rail Logistics Study

BE1.0
Built Environment
Revitalize Historic Downtowns
This tools supports revitalizing historic downtown through a variety of options. These tools aim to organize a community around a common vision and goals for a downtown and identify physical investments that can improve a downtown and make it more attractive for tourism, more viable for businesses, and a more vibrant community center. They also include options and resources for redeveloping downtowns.
( 5 votes)
BE1.1
Conduct a Downtown Master Plan

The historic downtowns of cities and towns throughout the Flint Hills are community treasures and a powerful draw for visitors to the area.  Many downtowns suffer from vacancies, aging infrastructure, and competition from newer areas of town.  Downtown master planning organizes a community around a common vision and goals for their downtown.  By engaging in a planning process, a community identifies physical investments and policy changes that can improve a downtown and make it more attractive for tourism, more viable for locally owned businesses, and a more vibrant center for community life.  Planning requires a robust community engagement process that encourages citizens to identify the existing treasures within their downtown and share their desires for change over time.  A plan includes recommendations that support locally owned businesses, encourage new businesses to locate downtown, and serve the needs of local residents and visitors.  Downtowns are a center of both business and community life.  Creating a master plan can enhance both business and community life because it creates an opportunity for many diverse perspectives to focus on what is best for the whole.

Cotton Wood Falls
Downtown Cottonwood Falls is a great example of historic downtown in the Flint Hills
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BE1.2
Establish a Community Improvement District

One of the biggest hurdles to improving downtown is a lack of funding to do so.  Cities are hard pressed to dedicate money to providing enhanced services in downtown areas. Forming a community improvement district or a business improvement district (C/BID)  provides a mechanism for downtown businesses and property owners to leverage resources and pay for physical improvements and clean and safe initiatives themselves.  Property owners can decide to form a C/BID in order to collect addition property or sales tax within the district to pay for improvements that benefit the district.  The State of Kansas approved the Community Improvement Act in 2009 enabling the creation of these districts. Community Improvement Districts are a way for businesses and property owners to voluntarily tax themselves in order to provide shared services and improvements beyond the standard city services in a targeted way. It enables neighborhoods or districts to pool their resources for mutual gain.

CID
Community Improvement Districts can pay for landscaping and "clean and safe" initiatives in addition to physical improvements.




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BE1.3
Establish Local Main Street Programs
The Main Street Program, created by the National Trust for Historic Preservation is a national network of communities that encourage preservation-based economic revitalization. The organization has participated in more than 2000 commercial districts during its 30 year history. The National Main Street Center helps communities with leadership and technical assistance, holds conferences, and conducts research and advocacy on critical revitalization issues. The state and local Main Street program and framework helps leverage local support for a commercial revitalization project to generate new investments and economic development in small downtowns and main streets. Main Street Programs plan and implement projects that create more vibrant and healthy commercial districts. This tool encourages local volunteers and stakeholders in a community to organize a non-profit board that will seek designation and recognition with this statewide and national network and resource.
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BE2.0
Built Environment
Use Incentives to Finance [Re]Development
Communities that expect to grow and increase the value of their real estate should consider using incentives to speed up this process. Creative incentives include Tax Increment Financing, STAR Bonds (in Kansas), Transportation Development Districts (TDD), Revolving Loan Funds, and other financing tools to issue bonds to partially pay for new development. Combined with state and federal incentives, such as historic tax credits and low income housing tax credits, local incentives can provide a powerful catalyst to jumpstart development in a targeted area. Communities that are not growing should use caution with these tools, because many rely on adjacent properties...
( 1 votes)
BE2.1
Use State and Federal Historic Tax Credits

Preserving Historic buildings supports the goal of revitalizing existing downtowns in the Flint Hills Region. Both the State and Federal Government provide resources for redeveloping historic buildings. The federal historic tax credits are available for income producing properties that are certified historic structures, and the state tax credit is available for income producing properties and private residences. This program is not competitive and is available for all historic buildings. Property owners typically sell their tax credits to investors through a syndication group to raise capital to pay for the project at the outset. Historic tax credits are an effective tool for saving significant buildings and a key tool for downtown “placemaking” strategies.

Council Grove
Buildings in the Council Grove Historic District are an example of properties that are eligible for historic rehabilitation tax credits.
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BE2.2
Use Low Income Housing Tax Credits to Support Affordable Housing

Providing affordable housing for working families is a priority, especially where growth and development is raising housing prices. Affordable housing should be integrated with market rate housing and near employment centers to avoid concentration of affordable units. Most affordable rental housing in the U.S. is created using Low Income Housing Tax Credits. These credits are awarded on a competitive, state-wide basis. The Low Income Housing Tax Credit provides individual private an incentive to set aside a portion of the housing units is a development as affordable units. This program provides housing for moderate income families that make up to 60% of Area Median Income.

Image credit: Payton Chung
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BE3.0
Built Environment
Conduct Comprehensive Planning
A comprehensive plan outlines a vision and goals for an entire community and provides a framework to base development decisions. Comprehensive plans document a vision and goals for a municipality and translate that vision into a plan for infrastructure improvements and land use plans. Topics covered in a comprehensive plan may include land use, transportation, utilities, housing, recreational needs, public facilities and services, and natural resources. Comprehensive Plans are not legally binding; they provide direction and can provide a basis for changing ordinances through the legislative process.
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BE3.1
Conduct a Comprehensive Plan for Your Community

A comprehensive plan is a citywide or countywide policy document that guides decision making for the local jurisdiction. Successful comprehensive plans engage the community through a consensus process to create a vision and goals for the future of the city or county.  From this vision, comprehensive plans make more detailed recommendations involving future land use, transportation, public facilities, major capital improvements, conservation of natural resources, and other topics related to development of the area.  The comprehensive plan form the basis for decisions ranging from zoning changes to capital improvement projects.

A comprehensive plan provides an opportunity for a community to come together and define a common vision for the future.
A comprehensive plan provides an opportunity for a community to come together and define a common vision for the future.
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BE4.0
Built Environment
Align Housing Stock with Housing Need
Align Housing Stock with Housing Need
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BE4.1
Create a Housing Needs Assessment

A Housing Needs Assessment collect and analyzes housing information to determine the need for affordable housing in a community. Issues include rental housing, affordable homeownership, senior housing, special needs housing, blight, foreclosure, and seasonal housing. The needs assessment identifies gaps in the current housing stock where certain demographics may have a hard time finding appropriate housing. A housing needs assessment identifies these needs and acts as a jumping off point to develop strategies to address these needs or a framework for evaluating development proposals to see if their address the needs in the community.

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BE4.2
Allow Accessory Dwelling Units in Zoning Ordinance

Allowing accessory dwelling units, sometimes known as "granny flats," is another strategy to diversify housing options. This option allows small detached housing units on the same lot as a single family house, and this arrangement is especially beneficial more households take on caretaking responsibilities for aging parents. In addition to responding to changing family needs, accessory dwelling units are a more efficient use of the existing housing stock in the community. Accessory dwelling units create new housing while preserving the look and scale of single-family detached neighborhoods.

Image Credit: Brett VA, Some Rights Reserved
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BE5.0
Built Environment
Use Zoning, Ordinances, and Plan Review Process to Direct Development
Encourage use of land use/zoning/ordinances to promote compatible mix of uses in addition to regulating out undesirable uses. Future land use plans represent the communities vision for how it will grow in the future. The zoning map represents the current development ordinances, and updates to this map should be informed by the future land use map. In addition to these two tools, land use ordinances can further regulated uses by, for example, limiting the placement of undesirable uses adjacent to residential uses. Zoning codes should be flexible enough to allow residential uses, employment centers, and services to develop adjacent to...
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BE5.1
Adopt Rural Zoning

Zoning channels development into the places that are specifically appropriate for it. Rural zoning ensures orderly and managed use of land outside of the municipal boundaries. One advantage of rural zoning is that it protects property owners in rural areas from harmful or undesirable land uses. Another advantage is that it preserves open space and natural and cultural resources. Rural can include, but is not limited to the following: sliding scale zoning wherein larger parcels have much lower development densities than small tracts, smaller minimum lot sizes, rural residential clusters, and mixed use agricultural or rural zones that permit professional, business, commercial uses within limits of scale and impact.

Image credit: Evan Leeson
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BE5.3
Use Architectural, Site, and Landscaping Development Standards

Cities have the ability to regulate development within their boundaries through development standards. Including requirements for high quality materials and architectural design, site design that enhances the public realm, and landscaping requirements to a City's development code enhances the quality of new development and renovations and over time leads to a more beautiful city. Development standards are consistent with a “placemaking” strategy; they ensure that individual property owners develop in a coordinated way that results in an interesting and attractive place. Development standards can be implemented through a zoning code and can be geographically targeted. For example, property facing main street may have more specific requirements on materials, building orientation, or landscaping than property in an industrial area.

Landscaping standards can improve the appearance of the community and reduce runoff
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BE6.0
Built Environment
Use Planning to avoid Encroachment on Fort Riley
Use Planning to avoid Encroachment on Fort Riley
( 2 votes)
BE6.1
Use Local Land Use Ordinance to Avoid Encroachment

Development around military installation can create conflicts for both the base and the community surrounding it.  Development can deplete water resources, drive endangered species onto the fort, cause interference with communication frequencies, and create light pollution that interferes with nighttime training.  The fort can cause light and noise pollution, increase risk to citizens from accidents.

Local governments around Fort Riley are using zoning and land use ordinances to protect the Fort from encroachment.  Riley County, Geary County, the City of Manhattan, and the City of Junction City should continue to work together to ensure that local ordinances are coordinated and adequate to protect the Fort today and for potential future needs. 

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BE7.0
Built Environment
Improve Energy & Water Efficiency of Buildings

Improve energy and water efficiency of buildings

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BE7.1
Improve Energy Efficiency of Government Buildings

Increased energy efficiency can be accomplished by creating policies related to government facilities. For example, a community might pass a policy that all government buildings must achieve a set standard for energy efficiency. The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) has established a rating system known as LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) that is widely used across the nation. The rating system has difference levels, which are certified, bronze, silver, gold, and platinum. These different levels related to increasing building performance. Other rating systems include EnergyStar, living building challenge, and one planet communities.

Some communities have gone a step beyond ensuring public buildings are energy efficient and have passed policies that buildings receiving public incentives are also built to a standard for energy efficiency. By tying incentives to building performance, a community can have a larger impact on overall energy efficiency.

Image credit: J. Stephen
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