The community of Owensboro recently became the first community in Kentucky to join Audubon International’s Sustainable Communities Program. It is the 14th community in the US to work with Audubon International to move toward environmental, economic, and social sustainability.
“We are very excited to start the Sustainable Communities certification process. The Sustainable Communities program offers the City of Owensboro the opportunity to showcase so many of our great existing programs as well as a chance to focus on what we can do better as a community,” said Andy Hutchinson, Chairman of PRIDE of Owensboro Daviess County.
The Sustainable Communities Program serves as a framework to merge economic and social considerations with the protection and enhancement of a community’s environmental characteristics. Audubon International serves as a catalyst for citizen-driven planning and community actions, and facilitates partnerships with governmental agencies, businesses, academic institutions, and other organizations that provide local support and assistance to reach the goals envisioned in the community. Working in this way, Owensboro will take a big picture approach to community growth and environmental protection.
“As communities grow, they undergo changes that can enhance or degrade the qualities in each community that make it a great place to live,” said Joanna Nadeau, Associate Director of Environmental Programs. “The Sustainable Communities Program helps communities tackle that challenge and plan for change in a way that fosters a vibrant local economy while maintaining a healthy environment and high quality of life. AI will work with Owensboro to build on the efforts citizens have already made to come together around key projects like building a state of the art “green” hospital. We have the opportunity to demonstrate what a heartland community like Owensboro can to do preserve its assets and face the future with the best foot forward.”
The City of Owensboro, located on the banks of the Ohio River in western Kentucky, has a vibrant population of more than 58,000 residents. Located in a unique bottomland forest, the region historically contained a wide diversity of wild plants and animals. To access natural areas, residents and guests explore floodways and stream corridors by boat, relax at city park lands, and enjoy several local golf courses. The City’s performing arts center, farmers’ markets, museums, and regular festivals, including the International Bar-B-Q Festival, create a unique mix of cultural activities for residents and visitors to enjoy. An ambitious downtown revitalization project focuses on increasing use of the riverfront for business, recreation, and events, and a 15-mile planned greenbelt will increase transportation options for pedestrians and bicyclists to reach the community’s many attractions.
By joining and participating in the Sustainable Communities Program, Owensboro will join several other medium-sized communities as a member of the program. There are three stages in the multi-year certification process, during which Owensboro will complete an assessment, define a long-term community vision, choose sustainability indicators as a mechanism for fostering action and measuring success, and implement its plan. The plan covers 15 focus areas, and members must choose timelines and measurable goals. After completing a vision plan and reporting progress on chosen goals, members of Audubon International’s Sustainable Communities Program are eligible for certification and designation as an Audubon International Sustainable Community, which recognizes dedication to the process of becoming a sustainable community.