The Triad Foundation of Ithaca, N.Y., has awarded a grant of $30,000 to support the Finger Lakes Institute’s (FLI) new initiative for Sustainable Economic Development. The initiative will integrate and expand upon three distinct but inter-related activities currently underway at the Institute: monitoring water quality, analyzing land use and working with communities as they institute sustainable land use policies.
“Since its inception, the Finger Lakes Institute has been a valuable partner to the many individuals, groups and governments in this area dedicated to the environmentally-sound development of this resource-rich region,” says Mark D. Gearan, president of Hobart and William Smith Colleges. “The new initiative toward sustainable economic development is a logical expansion of the Finger Lakes Institute’s expertise and mission.”
The Institute widely publicizes the results of its ongoing lake research, working with dozens of regional groups to understand the implications of its scientific findings. This research is defining the types of impairments causing a decline in water quality and the relevant correlations to surrounding land use. To better understand this relationship, the Institute uses geospatial information technology to visualize and interpret the patterns, connections and trends between land use and lake health.
According to Institute Director Marion Balyszak: “Water quality conditions indicate that it will be increasingly critical for communities to understand how local land use policy affects the environment and by extension sustainable economic development.”
This new initiative with partial support from the Triad Foundation will further the Institute’s research and educational efforts regarding the relationship between water quality and land use, supporting broader-based forums for communities to share information and link to resources that were the focus of last year’s FLI conferences on unifying economic development and the environment and land use in the Finger Lakes.
“Sustainable environmental stewardship of the Finger Lakes region will depend on building the capacity of local communities to make informed decisions that will improve water quality while also promoting the region’s economic potential,” says Balyszak.
As part of the Institute’s Sustainable Economic Development initiative, work will continue with community leaders, elected officials, policy makers, planning boards and the public to promote discussions about sustainable economic environmental initiatives that can involve the creation of effective land use strategies tailored to local circumstances, sustainable economic development, job creation and green industries.
The Finger Lakes Institute was founded at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in 2004. The Institute is dedicated to the promotion of environmental research and education about the Finger Lakes and surrounding environments. Its faculty and staff gather, monitor and evaluate data critical to the future of the Finger Lakes region. The Triad Foundation has been a longtime supporter of the Institute’s mission.
The photo above features Congressman James Walsh giving the keynote address at the land use symposium sponsored by the Finger Lakes Institute.