Project Will Map Caretakers Of Springfield's Green Spaces | WAMC

Project Will Map Caretakers Of Springfield's Green Spaces

Jun 24, 2020

Hundreds of organizations, civic groups, and government agencies are being asked to participate in a project to amass data on environmental stewardship work in Springfield, Massachusetts.
Credit WAMC

A project is launching later today to produce a comprehensive map that will show the hundreds of civic groups and organizations involved with environmental stewardship in Springfield, Massachusetts.

It is called STEW-MAP Springfield.  It is an initiative developed by the U.S.  Forest Service.

WAMC’s  Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill spoke with David Bloniarz, a research scientist with the U.S. Forest Service.

The STEW-MAP Springfield Project is actually the Stewardship Assessment and Reporting Project. And so we call it STEW-MAP for short. And what it is, it's a way that we can look at greenspace in the city, and the connections of people, organizations and agencies that utilize that space or take care of that space, or have some interest in green space in the city, and that would include Parks and Recreation Area, conservation lands, you know, things such as football, soccer fields, the green space you might find in Forest Park. And then other areas, whether it be the Connecticut River Walkway/ Bikeway- Whenever folks interact with green space, and we call those "turf areas". And the way the stewardship mapping project utilizes a geographic information system to link green spaces with the organizations that utilize, or use, or have some interest in those areas. Is, and it's an online database, which, then when you go to utilize it, you can look at all of the other partners or organizations or co-operators who are using that same green space. And then we hope to spur development of cooperative ventures and partnerships between different groups that are usually utilizing the same green space. Now, you're looking for some volunteer input for this project, right? Explain what information you need and from whom. Yeah, this is a pretty neat little effort that we're doing just the entire database is populated by organizations, individuals and agencies that care for or use, or in other ways they're interested in the green space, those turf areas, and the green spaces and city. And so what we've done is we've sent out emails, invite people to our kickoff event. Which is on Wednesday at 4pm, virtually. And at that time, we'll be giving them information and the web addresses is in the URL, how they can go online and complete what we call a Survey 123. And Survey 123 is a survey instrument which you can take on a mobile device on a smartphone or on a computer, and it asks a series of questions about you or your organization. So it might ask, if you utilize community volunteers do you have, how many hours of volunteer service do you have? So it really goes beyond just being the name and address of somewhere but ask some other questions that other folks can use to learn a little bit about your organization's to see if they're a good fit or a good partner that they may be interested in working with, eventually. Who has access to this data? And what will it be used for? Yeah, now the data there's the data is not not available to be released to the public until we tell each organization or individual, which data we would, would be putting forward on the public side of the STEW-MAP interface. So some organizations might just hope that they can have, "Oh, yeah, we work in these seven parks, or we work only in the south end of Springfield, or we work city wide. And then it might have a physical mailing address, a web address, an email, contacts, possibly a telephone number." So those are some of the questions you'd populate. Some of our research scientists are going to be looking at the work being done here in Springfield, and we're going to be actually better understanding from our standpoint, the needs or the- How to be more effective in the delivery of our programming to Springfield,  What was the criteria used for picking the organizations to participate and to to share their information? Yeah. Now how we did it is we partnered with the city of Springfield Parks Department, along with the University of Massachusetts, the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, and the Greening the Gateway City Program here in Springfield. And then along with the Forest Service and Re-Green Springfield, what we asked each of those individual organizations is, can you come up with email addresses to send to the list of organization names plus email addresses reach an invite to our kickoff event where we can tell them a little bit more about the project. And we've sent out, originally on our database that's been developed so far, we have 542 organizations and agencies, that, and city departments that would have gotten invited to the event. What do you hope to accomplish with this? How do you hope this data helps the Forest Service? Yeah. It will, and in one way it allows like land managers, meaning the city Forest Division and the Parks Department or community organizations, nonprofit, the public, whoever wants to utilize this, they can see where literally hundreds of environmental stewardship groups are working, and where they're working, whatever that particular area of interest is. So it allows for a lot of our smaller groups to connect with larger organizations. So you might have a church group that's interested in environmental education, and then they could link up with Re-Green, Springfield or Garmin in the Community or, you know, SPCC, or someone like that. And the way it works is STEW-MAP, it displays an area of activity, or what we call a stewardship turf, meaning the green space. And so that turf can be a full, a park, it could be like Forest Park, but it could also be the South End neighborhood, or it could be the Connecticut River shoreline. So that turf area, you actually define in the survey, you act there's a little mapping tool in there and you just Make a circle around the areas you're working in. And then it allows for all of this, for folks to look at the forest, or a forest patch or watershed, whatever it might be, and to better understand in a visual way. Along with the demographics and all of the other information, what is going on with the care, the maintenance, and the use of those green spaces, who the organizations are and how these organizations can possibly partner, seek help from each other, and really work together to sort of make the city more sustainable and greener.