Anne Arundel County

Anne Arundel unveils draft Green Infrastructure Master Plan, based on data 900 times more accurate than last plan

After 19 years, Anne Arundel County’s plan for land conservation and open space will be updated using land cover data that provides more information than what was possible in 2002, five years before the iPhone was unveiled.

The Green Infrastructure Master Plan catalogs the county’s natural resources and contemplates how to protect the land and enhance public access to nature. It identifies wetlands and forests larger than 250 acres, which are called hubs, as well as corridors of nature which connect these hubs. A draft of the plan was released Thursday.


Planners used the Chesapeake Conservancy’s high-resolution dataset, developed using aerial images, light detection and ranging (Lidar), and checked manually to increase accuracy. The data from the Conservation Innovation Center sees land at a one-meter scale, while prior maps had a 30-meter scale, making the new set 900 times more accurate. County planner Michael Stringer said they were also able to use data on habitat quality, sea-level rise and climate change.

“It’s almost like comparing a watercolor painting in 2002 to a now computer-generated, detailed analysis in 2021,” county planner Michael Stringer said.


Despite the new technology there is still an element planners fear they will miss— input from and an equitable approach for the Black community.

The Morning Sun

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County Executive Steuart Pittman held an event to announce the unveiling of the draft plan Thursday at the library in Odenton. Apostle Larry Lee Thomas, Sr., President of the United Black Clergy of Anne Arundel County, was invited to talk about the importance of commenting on the plan, a cause that can not only heal the earth but also bring green jobs to the community, he said.

“This plan is worth fighting for, because we want to see our communities changed,” Thomas said.

The public can visit to read the plan, comment or sign up to attend a public forum scheduled for Sept. 8. A draft of the plan was published Thursday, and the county is soliciting comments for the next 45 days.

NAACP member, physicist and outdoor enthusiast Thornell Jones said the plan needs to include everyone, including those who live in congested areas. He also said water access should be considered as planners work.

“What this plan is about is ensuring that people have the opportunity to get out and enjoy nature, enjoy fresh air that they don’t have where they live,” he said. “All of us need to be enjoying the outdoors, and we need to do it together.”

Stringer said the richer data available when making the 2021 plan has been useful in the pursuit of an equitable plan. He said they have been able to better understand social determinants of health and the public health impacts of having trees and green space.

He said the county’s green infrastructure map covered about 70,000 acres in 2002, and today it covers 114,000 acres. That is both a factor of the network growing, and a factor of records being digitized and easier to tally than they were decades ago, Stringer said.