Greening Smart Growth: The Sustainable Sites Initiative

The Sustainable Northampton Plan (PDF), recently approved by the Planning Board, includes these goals (p.23):

Conserve wetlands with programs to ensure no net loss of wetlands…

Preserve existing forests, floodplains, wetlands, and agricultural soils of high ecological value…

Recognize that the protection of environmental resources will improve the quality of life and the value of property in the City.

Minimize the loss of tree canopy throughout the City and increase tree canopy in urbanized areas to maintain a higher quality environment in all areas…
This sounds great. Unfortunately, the major piece of Smart Growth legislation passed in 2007, Northampton’s new Wetlands Ordinance, disregards these goals in the more built-up parts of Wards 1-5 (see maps of affected areas). Developers are invited to encroach as close as 10 feet to wetlands, a more permissive standard than you will find in almost any other part of Massachusetts. As discussed below, the increase in runoff and sedimentation can be dramatic when a green parcel is developed.

The Sustainable Northampton Plan implicitly acknowledges that its conception of infill puts in-town greenspace at risk, noting that in-town residents might protest the loss of greenspace next to them (p.15).

For a robust defense of preserving nature in the city, let’s turn to The Sustainable Sites Initiative, which just released a report on standards. This initiative is “a partnership of the American Society of Landscape Architects, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, the United States Botanic Garden, and a diverse group of national stakeholder organizations.” It spells out and even puts a dollar amount on the valuable services freely given by nature. It should give pause to those who characterize the development of a green parcel as “progress”, and suggests that Smart Growth should make brownfields revitalization a high priority.

The Sustainable Sites Initiative
Standards & Guidelines: Preliminary Report (PDF)
November 1, 2007

Definition of Sustainability
For the purpose of this initiative, site sustainability is defined as design, construction, operations and maintenance practices that meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs…

Guiding Principles of the Sustainable Sites Initiative

Do No Harm
Make no changes to the site that will degrade the surrounding environment. Promote projects that occur where there has been previous disturbance or development that presents an opportunity to regenerate ecosystem services through sustainable design.

Precautionary Principle
Be cautious in making decisions that could create risk to human and environmental health. Some actions can cause irreversible damage. Examine a full range of alternatives–including no action–and be open to input from all affected parties.

Design with Nature and Culture
Create and implement designs that are responsive to economic, environmental, and cultural conditions with respect to the local, regional, and global context.

Use a Decision-Making Hierarchy of Preservation, Conservation, and Regeneration
Maximize and mimic the benefits of ecosystem services by preserving existing environmental features, conserving resources in a sustainable manner, and regenerating lost or damaged ecosystem services.

Provide Regenerative Systems as Intergenerational Equity
Provide future generations with a sustainable environment supported by regenerative systems and endowed with regenerative resources.

Support a Living Process
Continuously re-evaluate assumptions and values and adapt to demographic and environmental change…

What Are Ecosystem Services?

The term ecosystem services describes the goods and services provided by healthy systems–the pollination of crops by bees, bats, or birds, the flood protection provided by wetlands, or filtration of water by vegetation and soils. Ecosystem services provide benefits to humankind and other organisms but are not reflected in our current economic accounting. Nature doesn’t submit an invoice for these services, so humans often underestimate or ignore their value when making land use decisions.

In recent years, there has been greater understanding of the value of these services and the way current land practices can imperil such natural benefits as air purification, water retention, climate regulation, food and raw material production, waste decomposition, erosion control, genetic resources, and biological habitat. It is difficult and expensive, sometimes impossible, to duplicate these services once they are destroyed.

Research has attempted to determine the value of these ecosystem services in dollars. The average combined value of all ecosystem services on the planet has been estimated at $33 trillion dollars.[1] Even in highly urban settings, the functions of healthy systems can be imitated and natural processes can be harnessed to provide environmental benefits. For instance, New York City trees intercept almost 890 million gallons [3.3 billion liters] of rainwater each year, preventing that much runoff from entering storm sewers and saving an estimated $35 million annually in stormwater management costs alone.[2] Urban trees in the Chicago area filter an estimated 6,000 tons [5,443 metric tonnes] of air pollutants annually, providing $9.2 million in benefits.[3] Similarly, the Street Edge Alternatives (SEA Streets) project in Seattle, designed to replicate natural landscapes, retains 98 percent of stormwater runoff during the wet season (4.7 times more than a conventional street).[4]

…Ecosystem services also contribute to human well-being, especially in highly urbanized environments. Human interactions with nature may be passive, such as enjoying views of trees, parks, and gardens, or active as in outdoor recreation. Studies show such benefits as better mental and emotional health, reduced stress response, higher mental function and productivity, community cohesion and resilience, and increased safety and security.[5]

Impacts of Current Land Practices on Soils

Soils can take thousands of years to form,[12] but land practices often degrade soils so that they erode or are blown away.[13] By the 1970s, almost one-third of the topsoil in the United States had already been lost to erosion.[12] These land practices contribute to soil damage:

Compaction, caused by excessive foot or hoof traffic or use of heavy machinery during construction, damages soil structure and reduces infiltration rates,[14] which increases runoff volume and flooding.[15] Compaction also reduces spaces between soil particles for oxygen and water, making it difficult for vegetation to grow. Compressed soil structure limits root growth and plant access to water and nutrients.

Disturbing and removing plants can damage soil structure and increase sedimentation and erosion of topsoil. Sedimentation is a major cause of polluted rivers and streams in the United States, second only to pathogens.[16] Sediment runoff rates from construction sites can be up to 20 times greater than agricultural sediment loss rates and 1,000 to 2,000 greater than those of forested lands.[16] Inadequate soil volume reduces the ability of soils to support healthy plant growth.[17] Also, disturbed soils can release into the atmosphere significant amounts of organic carbon previously sequestered in the soil…[8]

Role of natural hydrology in ecosystem services
Regulate water supply. On a well-vegetated site with healthy, open soils, rainwater is absorbed and transpired by vegetation, or it slowly trickles down and soaks into the soil. Undeveloped ecosystems absorb much of the precipitation that falls on them,[19] and only a small portion of rainfall is conveyed over the surface as runoff. For example, at the latitude and climate of Wisconsin, approximately 70 percent of the total annual precipitation evaporates or is transpired by vegetation, 17 percent enters groundwater, and 13 percent becomes stream flow.[20] In contrast, buildings, roads, and walkways prevent landscapes from absorbing rainfall, resulting in increased runoff and decreased groundwater replenishment…

Impacts of Current Land Practices on Hydrology
Covering, disturbing or removing soils and vegetation can severely diminish or even eliminate the interception, evapotranspiration, and infiltration capacity of the landscape. When soils and vegetation are replaced with impervious surfaces, up to 95 percent of rainfall becomes runoff.[24] When impervious surfaces cover more than 10 percent of a watershed, the quality of streams and stormwater is degraded.[25,26] Urban areas often contain 40 percent or more impervious cover. Even lawns and landscape beds, which are generally viewed as more permeable than pavements and roofs, are commonly compacted during construction and installation, resulting in reduced infiltration.[14,27] A residential lawn can be up to 40 percent impervious.[24] Disturbing soils and vegetation can increase dramatically the rate, volume, duration, and frequency of runoff as well as pollutant loadings of stormwater, which can affect water quantity and quality…

Contaminated stormwater runoff from developed land is the leading cause of water quality problems[23] and accounts for 70 percent of water pollution in urban areas.[29] Runoff from developed areas can contain oil, grease, excessive nutrients, pathogens (e.g., E. coli, hepatitis A), persistent bioaccumulative toxic (PBT) chemicals, and heavy metals. For example, increased surface runoff and nutrient delivery throughout the Mississippi River watershed have created dissolved oxygen levels that caused fish and shrimp catches to drop to zero in parts of the Gulf of Mexico.[30] Similarly, New York state experienced 1,280 beach closure or advisory days in 2006, many caused when the combined sewer overflow systems were overwhelmed by stormwater runoff…[31]

Impacts of Current Land Practices on Vegetation
Disturbing and removing vegetation denies a site valuable ecosystem services. Researc
h in New York City in 2007 indicates that a single tree provides $209 in benefits annually.[2] Land practices that remove vegetation can damage natural hydrologic systems that intercept and filter water. In Bismarck, North Dakota, for example, a single tree intercepts an average 3,000 gallons [11,000 liters] of rainwater each year.[46] When the vegetation is gone, the site loses its natural capacity for stormwater management, groundwater recharge, and water filtration. These practices also affect soil health, as vegetation maintains soil structure, prevents erosion, and contributes to soil organic matter. Underutilization of vegetation–which provides shade and evapotranspiration to cool buildings–can also increase energy costs.

Inadequate space for vegetation limits healthy plant growth. In site design, the needs of vegetation are often simply an afterthought, and the space dedicated to plants is inadequate to support them. Street trees planted in confined areas may have no room for their roots and can be deprived of adequate water.[17,47] These plants require more intense maintenance[47] and can die prematurely. The average life span of sidewalk trees, for instance, is approximately 10 years…[48]


…Healthy soils effectively cycle nutrients; minimize runoff and maximize water holding capacity; absorb excess nutrients, sediments, and pollutants; provide a healthy rooting environment and habitat to a wide range of organisms; and maintain structure and aggregation. Land practices that minimize disturbances to healthy soil can maintain these valuable functions. Soil health can also be restored on sites where soil is already degraded.

Preserving existing topsoil, adding organic material and minimizing compaction allow soils to function as a base for large, healthy plants that require fewer pesticides, fertilizers, and irrigation for plant growth.[2,3] Healthy soils also maintain a permeable soil structure, which ensures higher water infiltration rates that in turn reduce erosion, runoff, and flooding potential.[3] In addition, healthy soils maintain seed banks of native vegetation[4] and provide habitat for diverse animals and microbes living in and above the soil.[3] In fact, a single gram of soil can contain between 1,000 to 10,000 different species of bacteria and fungi.[5] Healthy soils also stockpile carbon. Research indicates that urban soils can potentially sequester large amounts of organic carbon, especially in managed vegetated areas that lack annual soil disturbances…[6]


…Restrict disturbance on soils beneath tree canopy.
Preserve areas with vegetation…

Soils can contribute to the emission of three greenhouse gases: carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide. Because so much organic carbon is stored in soils—about twice as much as that of the atmospheric carbon pool[12] —significant amounts of carbon dioxide can be emitted when soils are disturbed. In addition, substantial amounts of methane and nitrous oxide, both of which are far more effective at trapping heat than carbon dioxide, are also released by soils.[13,14] All of these greenhouse gases are produced in natural nutrient cycling, but the natural emission rates can be exacerbated by human impacts such as tillage, fertilizer application, and increased soil erosion. Improved soils management techniques can reduce greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming. For example, maintaining vegetation and minimizing soil disturbance prevents erosion, which allows soils to hold carbon in the long term, preventing its release to the atmosphere…


…80 percent of the precipitation falling on an urban site can become runoff, whereas a forested site can have zero runoff…[17]

On sites altered by humans for agriculture, development, or other uses, the balance of the hydrologic system is often disrupted. Hydrologic functions include filtration of water by wetlands and riparian vegetation; infiltration of water to groundwater aquifers that supply drinking water sources; maintenance of baseflow in streams and rivers; and flood prevention through interception, evapotranspiration, and infiltration. Reducing the infiltration capacity of the land with impervious cover or soil compaction results in increased surface runoff…

…one city block generates five times more runoff than a woodland area of the same size…[20]

…Protect soils from compaction during site construction by restricting machinery to designated zones…

…Maintain or restore the site’s existing or historic drainage patterns…

Protect or enhance seasonal flooding patterns of wetlands.

Create or restore wetlands and riparian areas to absorb, filter, and attenuate runoff…

Land use changes have undermined the chemical, physical and biological health of our streams, lakes, wetlands, estuaries, and oceans. Many freshwater systems are dependent on cool, steady groundwater flows that are lost when infiltrating soils are replaced with buildings, roads, and compacted soils.[22] Reducing infiltration capacity also results in significantly increased surface runoff volume.[22] In addition, water leaving developed sites generally contains more pollutants due to the rapid runoff that washes over impervious areas.[22] Surface runoff also warms as it passes over impervious surfaces, which can impact aquatic species that rely on cooler water temperatures…[23]


Vegetation provides important ecosystem services, such as habitat, air and water filtration, and greenhouse gas regulation. Many land practices ignore or underutilize the benefits vegetation can provide, but improved design, installation, and maintenance can enhance these natural services. Placing trees and plants strategically can combat urban heat island effects and reduce energy consumption by lowering air temperatures by 5º F [2.8º C] or more.[26] Likewise, vegetation design and selection can help reduce rainwater runoff, slow overland flow of excess precipitation, and increase water absorption. A natural woodland has more than a 90 percent greater water absorption capacity than a typical turf-grass lawn of equal size,[27] reducing runoff and the need for engineered stormwater management…

…Minimize soil compaction, which can increase runoff and decrease on-site water retention and groundwater storage…


Reduce the urban heat island effect. The urban heat island effect results in higher temperatures in cities and suburbs than in the surrounding areas, which contributes to ground level ozone formation, reduced air quality, and higher air conditioning loads in the surrounding buildings…

…Shade constructed surfaces on the site with large trees or other landscape features…

Certain conventional construction practices and landscape products can negatively impact surface water and groundwater quality, are energy intensive, release pollutants to air, soils, and plants, and can ultimately harm human health. Landscape products such as lumber treated with chromated copper arsenate (CCA) and alkaline copper quat (ACQ) can contaminate soils,[33] affect aquatic habitats[34] and pollute groundwater.[35] Even though a site may cover a relatively small surface area, the potential for sediments and pollutants to reach surface waters is great due to the high runoff rates from construction sites—up to 2,000 times greater than runoff rates from forested lands…[36]


A site can be designed to benefit people with opportunities for physical activity, healthy food sources, and relaxation. Physiological functions, the core processes of our bodies, are positively affected by experiences with nature. For example, hospital patients who have a view of natural landscapes (as opposed to built structures) recover faster from surg
ery and require less pain medication.[40] In addition, heart rate, blood pressure, and other measures return to normal levels more quickly when people view natural rather than urban landscapes after a stressful experience.[41] Site design can also provide opportunities for outdoor physical activity and healthy food production. Daily moderate activity by individuals decreases the incidence of such chronic diseases as heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure. Community gardens in healthy environments provide fresh, local produce, and promote greater stewardship of land by site users. Improved health reduces health care costs…[42]

Research has shown that interaction with or views of nearby nature can improve cognitive functioning. For instance, desk workers who have a view of nature report greater job productivity and satisfaction and fewer absences from work.[43] Children and youth may have the most to gain from green surroundings. Play in places with trees and vegetation can support children’s development of skills and cognitive abilities[44] and lessen the symptoms of Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).[45] Likewise, living in a green environment can improve school performance,[46] concentration, and self-discipline…[47]

Optimize natural light and views of nature from work and learning spaces.
Maintain all possible large trees on-site, especially those viewable from windows, as studies show consistently high values of preference and benefits from large trees…

Enhance opportunities to experience vistas and scenic views…

The presence of natural elements has several implications for personal and community security. Shared green spaces, particularly those with trees, provide settings for people to interact and strengthen social ties. Residential areas with green surroundings are associated with greater social cohesion in neighborhoods, and neighbors with stronger social ties are more likely to monitor local activity, intervene if problem behaviors occur,[48] and defend their neighborhoods against crime.[49] Residents of buildings with greater tree and grass cover report fewer incidences of vandalism, graffiti, and litter than counterparts in more barren buildings.[50] Likewise, a study comparing police reports of crime and extent of tree and grass cover found that the greener a building’s surroundings, the fewer total crimes were reported.[51]

…Provide pedestrian-only precincts so children and youth can move and play without concern for traffic.
Reduce speed and volume of traffic on adjacent streets as children often make use of paved areas as play space, or provide for a controlled mix of pedestrians and vehicles.

[Editorial comment: The above sounds like a fair description of a cul-de-sac. Unfornately these are disfavored by the Sustainable Northampton Plan because they impede the flow of vehicles.]

See also:

Rutherford Platt, “Regreening the Metropolis: Pathways to More Ecological Cities”
…cities and metropolitan areas, now too large to conveniently escape, must themselves be viewed as incorporating both built and unbuilt environments… And into the bargain, the urban environment will prove to be more habitable, more sustainable, more “ecological”…

Loss or degradation of ecological services often requires costly technical substitutes such as flood control projects, water treatment plants, air conditioning, and sun block…

The Ecological Cities Project: Greenspace in “The Humane Metropolis”

Benefits of Urban Wetlands and Their Buffer Areas

EPA: Wetlands and Flood Protection
Wetlands within and downstream of urban areas are particularly valuable, counteracting the greatly increased rate and volume of surface-water runoff from pavement and buildings…

A one-acre wetland can typically store about three-acre feet of water, or one million gallons. An acre-foot is one acre of land, about three-quarters the size of a football field, covered one foot deep in water. Three acre-feet describes the same area of land covered by three feet of water. Trees and other wetland vegetation help slow the speed of flood waters. This action, combined with water storage, can actually lower flood heights and reduce the water’s destructive potential. (Source: EPA)

The Economic Value of Wetlands: Wetlands’ Role in Flood Protection in Western Washington

Metro Portland’s Long Experience with Smart Growth: A Cautionary Tale
…Portland is currently laboring to finance a multi-billion dollar consolidated sewer outflow system to accommodate the effects that dense (and impervious) development is having on surface water accumulations in the region.

Smart Growth with Balance: The American Planning Association
All development — including redevelopment, infill development, and new construction in urbanizing areas — should plan for biodiversity and incorporate green infrastructure. Green infrastructure helps to maintain natural ecosystems, including clean air and water; reduces wildlife habitat fragmentation, pollution, and other threats to biodiversity. It also improves the quality of life for people.

UMass Press: “Natural Land: Preserving and Funding Open Space”
In the city of Stuttgart, Germany, corridors of forest land have been preserved to provide a natural airflow through the dense urban environment, bringing clean air from the surrounding rural areas and diluting urban air pollution, as well as moderating the climate (Spirn 1984)…

Photo Essay: Our Woods in Winter

Photo Essay: The Forest Behind View Avenue

Gazette opinion: “Don’t ease controls on wetlands” (10/25/07)
Proponents of Northampton’s new wetlands buffer zone regime, which authorizes development as close as 10 feet to wetlands in nine zoning districts, tried to reassure critics by saying developers wouldn’t automatically be entitled to get that close. The reality, however, is Northampton’s Conservation Commission will now be on the defensive whenever it asks developers for more than the minimum specified in the new ordinance. Alexandra Dawson, chair of Hadley’s Conservation Commission, writes in today’s Gazette [emphasis added]:

I thoroughly agree with recent comments to the effect that this is not the time to weaken local controls over development in or near wetlands. Few cities and towns outside Route 495 have local wetlands protection ordinances and bylaws; so what happens to one is likely to happen to others. This is clearly what has happened in Northampton and Greenfield…

…Northampton has adopted changes to its bylaws that limit the setback between development and wetlands in the business district to 10 feet, although it is obvious that 10 feet is not even enough space to accommodate the big yellow machines that do the building. It is true that a recent court decision indicates that wetlands ordinances (or conservation commission regulations adopted under them) should enumerate setbacks so that builders need not guess what will be required of them. Unfortunately, there is also case law stating that whatever is so established limits the commission’s discretion to ask for more unless there is a specific showing of why one proposal stands out from the others. If the setback in the ordinance is 10 feet, it will be very hard for the commission to justify a permit restricting building for 50 feet. For this reason, most eastern Massachusetts bylaws that contain setbacks start at 25 to 50 feet.
Hyla Ecological Services Analyzes the Proposed Wetlands Ordinance
…the consensus of the scientific literature is clearly that the value and functions of wetlands are severely compromised when buildings, roads, lawns, fields, etc, are constructed too close to the wetland edges. Negative consequences to wetlands of insufficient setbacks from wetland edges include:

  • changes in wetland temperature

  • increased frequency and severity of flooding

  • increases in abundance of exotic invasive species

  • increases in pollutant loads

  • increased rate of sediment deposition

  • increased fecal coliform counts

  • increases in nutrient levels and in nutrophillic nuisance vegetation

  • increased levels of direct human disturbance and trash accumulation

  • altered distribution of native wetland plant and animal species

  • decreased diversity in native wetland plant and animal species.
Also, of particular significance are the results of a field evaluation study of wetland buffer effectiveness in the Puget Sound area of Washington State conducted [by] Sarah Spear Cooke. These findings are summarized in Castelle et al., 1992:

Buffer function was found to be directly related to the width of the buffer. Ninety-five percent of buffers smaller than 50 feet suffered a direct human impact within the buffer, while only 35% of buffers wider than 50 feet suffered direct human impact. Human impacts to the buffer zone resulted in increased impact on the wetland by noise, physical disturbance of foraging and nesting areas, and dumping refuse and yard waste. Overall, large buffers reduced the degree of changes in water quality, sediment load, and the quantity of water entering the adjacent wetland. As a rule, buffers were subjected to a reduction in size over time. Of 21 sites examined, 18 were found to have reduced buffer zones within one to eight years following establishment. (P. iv, bold-type added).
Northampton’s Flood and Natural Hazard Mitigation Plan: Wetlands Buffers of 100 Feet Are an Effective Flood Mitigation Strategy and Should Be Consistently Enforced

Northampton Open Space Plan: “This loss of habitat and natural flood buffering areas is Northampton’s most serious environmental problem”

Alex Ghiselin, Letter to Gazette: “Don’t let development encroach on our wetlands”
Northampton has a natural wetland system that protects us from flooding, nurtures biodiversity and filters our groundwater. Allowing development within 10 feet of this system in almost every residential district is not a good idea.

The failure of the storm water system built as a part of the Northampton High School renovation six years ago illustrates why protecting wetlands is so important. Silt has filled the retention pond so there is no capacity to slow a storm surge which now flows unimpeded into the Mill River and contributes to flooding downstream. This accumulated silt also raised the water table and spills ground water into nearby basements…

Without maintenance, these [storm water mitigation] systems are part of the problem, not the solution…

Wetlands do not need to be maintained; they just need to be protected.

EPA: Urban Heat Islands

Topographical Map Shows How Kohl Condo Proposal Will Eat Into a Rare Stand of Mature Trees in Downtown
The following view dramatizes the considerable amount of impervious surface already in the area, especially around King Street and the Coca-Cola plant. Kohl’s “infill” project will convert a significant amount of the remaining greenspace to impervious surface. The presence of Millyard Brook shows that this area serves as a natural sink for water in the neighborhood.

Seeing Like a State: Planning Gone Awry in the 20th Century
Cities tend to be complex organisms, Scott observes, so planners are constantly tempted to try to simplify their task:

Once the desire for comprehensive urban planning is established, the logic of uniformity and regimentation is well-nigh inexorable. Cost effectiveness contributes to this tendency… [E]very concession to diversity is likely to entail a corresponding increase in administrative time and budgetary cost… (p.141-142)
In Northampton, the simplification du jour appears to be a drive to segregate our open space to the periphery, while weakening greenspace preservation in the more urban districts where it is already scarce.

Scott proposes guidelines to reduce the potential harm from plans. These include:

Take small steps. In an experimental approach to social change, presume that we cannot know the consequences of our interventions in advance. Given this postulate of ignorance, prefer wherever possible to take a small step, stand back, observe, and then plan the next small move…

Favor reversibility. Prefer interventions that can easily be undone if they turn out to be mistakes. Irreversible interventions have irreversible consequences. Interventions into ecosystems require particular care in this respect, given our great ignorance about how they interact…

Plan on surprises. Choose plans that allow the largest accommodation to the unforeseen… In planning housing, it would mean “designing in” flexibility for accommodating changes in family structures or living styles…

Plan on human inventiveness. Always plan under the assumption that those who become involved in the project later will have or will develop the experience and insight to improve on the design… (p.345)
Connecticut River Watershed Action Plan: Remove impervious surfaces within 50 feet of streams
To reduce nonpoint source pollution from stormwater runoff, the Connecticut River Strategic Plan proposes the removal of impervious surfaces within 50 feet of streams and the investigation of “functional replacements” (such as the use of permeable pavement) for impervious surfaces within 100 feet of streams, in developed areas (PVPC, 2001). In the urbanized areas, the removal or retrofitting of impervious areas and the implementation of Stormwater Best Management Practices (BMPs) could be beneficial in improving water quality. The interception and redirection of stormwater, that would otherwise enter storm drains and CSOs, would contribute to the reduction of peak flow during heavy storms. One example is to collect runoff from roofs for use in lawn irrigation.

…Areas with high percentages of impervious surfaces are most likely to be affected by increase stormwater runoff into rivers and streams. (p.46)

The Times-Picayune: “Despite vows, Gulf’s ‘dead zone’ growing” (12/3/07)
Fertilizer runoff and wastewater from farms and towns upstream in the nation’s heartland pour billions of pounds of excess nutrients into the Mississippi, and eventually the Gulf [of Mexico], each year, sparking unnatural algae blooms that choke off the oxygen supply vital for marine life…

…the dead zone is still growing — reaching nearly 8,000 square miles this year — one of the largest recorded…

Springfield Wetland Regulations: “A Minimum of a fifty (50) foot undisturbed buffer”
A minimum of a fifty (50) foot undisturbed buffer shall be established adjacent to any vegetated wetland, bank, lake, stream or river, intermittent or continuous, natural or artificial and certified or uncertified vernal pools. No work, structures or alterations will be allowed within the fifty (50) foot buffer…

Text of Springfield’s Ordinance to Protect “Significant Trees”
Chapter 8.20.070 Significant Trees

A: Except as provided by Chapter 87 of General Laws, it is unlawful for any person other than the city forester, or his designees, to cut, trim or remove, in whole or in part, any significant tree, even if such person is the owner of the fee in the land on which such tree is situated, except upon a permit in writing from the city forester, and only to the extent of the terms and condition of such permit.

B: The city forester shall grant such permit only upon a showing by preponderance of the evidence that the continued present state of such tree endangers person, or, in his discretion, if such tree is diseased or damaged.

C: For purposes of this section, a “significant tree” is any tree which is seventy-five (75) years or older, or which is three (3) feet in diameter or more…