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Commissioners look at city’s sustainability efforts

By Grace Lovins

Birmingham city commissioners reviewed the city’s current sustainable landscaping efforts at their meeting on Monday, October 16, focusing on the importance of sustainability and biodiversity throughout the city.

Director of public services Scott Zielinski provided a detailed presentation about the city’s current efforts to increase sustainable and biodiverse landscaping. According to Zielinski, Birmingham currently has 13 areas where they have been focusing on restoration, native growth and fighting invasive species.

Currently, there are rain gardens, bioswales, stormwater capture beds and native perennials found throughout Birmingham. On top of this, multiple areas also have riparian zones which help to control erosion and provide solar protection to the plants and animals living there.

Zielinski additionally said that Birmingham is home to native, no-mow spaces where native plants species can thrive. These areas increase the prevalence of native species that encourage pollinators from the insect population, like bees.

The department is aiming to slowly work into developing more locations, said Zielinski, but since some areas require extensive upkeep in the first three to five years, it can be a challenge with a smaller staff. Zielinski said they are also waiting to plan out details of future projects until the Parks and Recreation Master Plan has been completed.

Commissioners Clinton Baller and Brad Host each offered up the idea of recruiting volunteers to help maintain the city’s efforts in light of the department’s slim staff. Commissioner Andrew Haig also suggested getting in contact with schools, places of worship and other large property owners to inform of the city’s goals and collaborate to accomplish them.

The department of public services isn’t the only department focusing on sustainability, according to city manager Jana Ecker. Since the commission laid out sustainability as a goal during strategic planning, all city departments have looked at ways to increase sustainability.

“We’ve all started talking together internally to look at what we can do across all departments. In the 2040 Plan, one of the large elements was sustainability, something that we heard from our residents loud and clear that this is something they want to do,” Ecker said.

The item did not require any formal action from the commission.


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