Publication Date



The State of Maryland has been a leader in a number of state-wide environmental efforts. As part of the work published by the Maryland Greenway Commission in 2000, a green infrastructure (GI) assessment was included to provide a greater “emphasis on the ecologic network” (Maryland Greenway Commission, 2000, p. 3). This inclusion, while building off of decades of land conservation and greenway planning, recognized the need to provide a more science-based approach to integrated and comprehensive land conservation. In addition to this recognition, this GI assessment was also intended to identify the best ecological lands in Maryland for potential protection as well as potential areas for restoration. The GreenPrint program that evolved from this original GI assessment was reorganized in 2008 and became a first-in-the-nation web-enabled map showing the relative ecological importance of every parcel of land in the State (Maryland Department of Natural Resources, 2012a). In addition to these efforts that focused on land conservation, other efforts in the state included the evolution of environmental site design (ESD) to include low impact development (LID) methods and innovative site design practices. Maryland, in part as the result of new EPA water quality requirements has established some of the most stringent statewide regulations that are impacting the land development process. These ESD and stormwater interventions have been popularized as green infrastructure as well. Thus, the term green infrastructure serves as a robust but diffuse term capturing both broad scale land conservation as well as micro-scale storm water practices.

In 2000, the Maryland Greenway Commission defined greenways as

“natural corridors set aside to connect larger areas of open space and to provide for the conservation of natural resources, protection of habitat, movement of plants and animals, and to offer opportunities for linear recreation, alternative transportation, and nature study. Maryland has over 1,500 miles of protected greenways corridors, including over 600 miles of trails.” (p.1)

Thus while trail planning played a central role in both greenways and initial green infrastructure developments, more recent trail efforts have been less connected with green infrastructure (and the term greenways) and more focused on the recreation and economics benefits. The current trails web page at Maryland Department of Natural Resources states:

“[t]rails provide many economic benefits to local communities and create a wide range of jobs, from B&B's to bike shops. They also help tell the wonderful stories of Maryland and its rich history. And hiking and bicycle trails are for the whole family. They make us all healthier and happier while opening up the natural world around us. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is currently working closely with the National Park Service, the Maryland Department of Transportation, State Highway Administration, Department of Planning, Office of Tourism, local governments, trail groups, and volunteer citizens on a wide assortment of trails throughout the state.” (Maryland Department of Natural Resources, 2012b)

How do greenways now relate to green infrastructure? Is the term greenway still useful in the Maryland context and if so, why. This paper explores the benefits and issues related to greenways and GI. This presentation is organized into four sections. First, I will present a framework for GI in the state of Maryland. The proposed conceptual framework may have applicability for other settings. Second, I will provide examples from Maryland for this GI framework. These examples, from different scales, include policy and regulatory programs from land conservation, forest parcel conservation, stream restoration, and stormwater interventions. Third, I will explore the integral role that greenways could and should play at various scales for GI. How do greenways benefit the proposed GI framework? Last, where this framework is applicable to other settings, I will argue the need to recommit to collaborative holistic approaches that support economic, ecological, and cultural sustainability.



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