When Marine’s newest council member, Wendy Ward, decided to run for office, one of her key interests was in helping the community make the best use of its abundant natural resources.
“We are so fortunate to live in this really beautiful environment,” she said. “Most of us live here or visit because it’s so darn beautiful and quiet and the wildlife is incredible. What if we looked at this whole system and thought about how we could make it a more welcoming and connected place?
“We have the river and forests, wetlands and prairie. How do we make these spaces more accessible? How do we create a richer experience for everyone who lives and visits here? How do we position this town to be a place that attracts birders and canoers and kayakers and cyclists?”
These questions led her to propose the creation of a new committee – the Trails, Open Space and Natural Resources Committee. The committee will work with the planning commission and the city council to develop short and long-range planning goals.
The committee will look for ways to increase connectivity not only among parks and trails and open spaces, but also between Marine and other organizations, jurisdictions and towns.
“This new committee will be identifying our capacities and our resources. What kind of impact can we have?” Ward said.
She sees the committee undertaking such activities as:
• Developing a comprehensive plan for connectivity of green spaces,
• Identifying priority areas as well as concerns, and developing a budget for improvements,
• Mapping assets and resources,
• Gathering input from Marine residents at an annual workshop,
• Developing educational pogramming,
• Working to incorporate cultural heritage interpretation into signage and programs,
• Working with other cities to promote or partner on programs and events,
• Reaching out to sporting, recreational and natural resource organizations to encourage visits to Marine.
The ideal committee applicant, said Ward, will be a Marine resident who “cares deeply about the natural resources we have here – birders, hikers, river and trail users. We want folks who have great ideas and want to make a difference, who value excellence, cooperation, flexibility, humor and fun.”
Committee members must be available to meet once a month, with some work outside of the meeting time.
While a particular skillset or educational background is not required, applicants with experience writing grants, planning events, building educational programming, and doing marketing and graphic design are needed.
The new committee has designated one spot for a youth member. “This town that has a lot of youth and we want to include someone 18 and under. They have a perspective that is energetic, unique and forward looking.”
Another spot is designated for a resident of Jackson Meadow. “It’s a destination location and they manage it very actively. Also, the city has space there. It’s a private stakeholder that’s important to include.”
A brief application form can be found on the Marine city website, with a deadline of September 3. Once received, the City Council will review applications and ask all applicants to interview at 6 pm on Sept. 9, one hour before the regular City Council meeting.
Questions can be directed to Wendy Ward at firstname.lastname@example.org.