Douglas County Government and the Douglas County Community Foundation received a $26,000 matching grant from Partners for Places. The match was provided through local donations to the Douglas County Community Foundation.
The $52,000 in total funding will be used to complete Phase 1 of a three-phase Open Space Plan development and implementation process:
- Phase I - Study existing data and policies, build relationships with key stakeholders, and identify community values and shared vision related to open space. Phase I is scheduled to begin this summer and be completed in spring 2021.
- Phase II – Identify actions the community can take to fulfill its values and vision. This could include designating target conservation areas, policy changes, changes in organizational structure, and identifying ongoing funding for implementation.
- Phase III – Host demonstration projects and implement the plan.
Douglas County Sustainability Director Jasmin Moore said the county is experiencing multiple pressures directly affecting the landscape of the community. These pressures include:
- destruction of important natural and historic features, including 99% of original prairie and 88% of original forest due to land use changes, development, and transportation infrastructure;
- more intense and frequent extreme weather events connected to climate change, such as storms, droughts, and floods; and
- agricultural economic pressures of a changing climate, volatile commodity crop prices, and aging farmers without succession plans.
“Many agencies and organizations have been working on these issues for years, but there is not a comprehensive strategy to address these pressures,” Moore said. “The creation of an Open Space Plan will be a game-changer for our community. I believe it will expand options for both public and private land owners, which will lead to flood damage control, maintaining rural character, enhancing overall ecological integrity, preservation of history, and ultimately, higher quality of life.”
Common elements of open space plans include trails, buffers between land uses and waterways, native prairies, wetlands, wildlife habitat, agricultural lands and historic sites.
Douglas County Commissioner Nancy Thellman is grateful to Partners for Places, the Douglas County Community Foundation and the citizens who donated the funding. “In total, this grant puts us in a strong position to engage with the entire community about the future of our undeveloped places — thinking about things like future parks and trails, farms and fields, forests and native prairies, waterways and eco-corridors, historic sites, structures and stories. This funding will help ensure our Open Space planning process includes all our voices along the way. To be sure, it’s a big conversation we’re going to have.”
The Douglas County Sustainability Office has been working in partnership with the Douglas County Community Foundation, which has a Douglas County Open Spaces Fund. “This collaboration to leverage the Partners for Places funding will make an impact on crucial sustainability issues for our communities, including the health of all Douglas County residents,” said Chip Blaser, Douglas County Community Foundation president.
To learn more or make a donation, visit https://www.dccfoundation.org/product/douglas-county-open-spaces-fund.
About Partners for Places
Partners for Places is led by the Funders’ Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities in partnership with the Urban Sustainability Directors Network. It is a successful matching grant program that creates opportunities for cities and counties to improve communities by building partnerships between local government sustainability offices and place-based foundations. National funders invest in local projects to promote a healthy environment, a strong economy, and well-being of all residents. Through these projects, Partners for Places fosters long-term relationships that make our urban areas more prosperous, livable, and vibrant.
About Douglas County Community Foundation
The Douglas County Community Foundation connects the diverse citizens and communities of Douglas County through charitable action. The mission is to enrich the quality of life in the communities of Douglas County by:
- Building philanthropic resources and relationships
- Providing attractive options for donors to make philanthropic contributions
- Being a catalyst for the betterment of the lives of the citizens of Douglas County