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Natural Systems

What’s being done- plan implementation

Environmental Consultations with State and Local Officials

As part of developing the Regional Transportation Plan, OKI consults with state and local officials involved with environmental protection and mitigation about how best to avoid or mitigate the potential environmental impacts of transportation planning. This process has resulted in the identification of new opportunities for information sharing and coordination.

The 2050 OKI Metropolitan Transportation Plan used this environmental consultations process to identify environmental impacts of the plan recommendations to improve decisions. A summary of this process and details about our regionally significant resources visit


Prioritizing Mitigation Opportunities in the OKI Region

In 2020, OKI staff initiated development of a mitigation prioritization model using the OKI Environmental Viewer as a basis. Staff used guidance and feedback from area experts on what should be considered by the model. The model will have mapping features that allow users to select and weight the environmental features of importance to their community. The results will show polygons representing priority areas. This tool will be promoted to local communities so that they will be able to determine areas of importance based on their unique priorities.


Advanced Mitigation Planning and the FHWA Eco-Logical Implementation Assistance Program

The OKI Environmental Viewer was developed to provide communities in the region about regionally significant environmental resources. A primary purpose of this tool is to inform the Regional Transportation Plan of potential environmental impacts. In February 2018, OKI received national recognition as an early adopter Eco-Logical Implementation Assistance Program by the US Department of Transportation FHWA. OKI’s integration of state natural heritage endangered species data in advanced mitigation planning efforts was included in the FHWA Implementing Eco-Logical Annual Report published June 2017.



Enabling Environmentally Sensitive Building Practices Through Local Codes

Through consultation with local code officials as part of the OKI Go Solar Ready initiative, GO Solar Ready resources provide samples and models to improve permitting processes and encourage proactive solar ready construction.


Trees and Stormwater Guide

 In 2017, Integrating Trees into Stormwater Management Design and Policy – A Guide for Local Decision Makers was completed by OKI and partners as a national tool and resource for promoting, facilitating and increasing the use of trees for stormwater management. This tool has the capability for users to create a document customized for their own community that includes design, policy, and ordinance templates specific to their community.


Taking Root

In 2016 Taking Root incorporated as a non-profit organization and moved out of its incubator office at OKI, which help found the regional tree planting campaign in 2013.  OKI staff will remain supportive of Taking Root by serving as active members on its newly established Board.  Taking Root continues working toward its primary goal of planting 2 million trees in the region. To date, over 300,000 trees have been planted.


Water Planning Assistance

OKI provides technical assistance to local governments seeking grant funding for watershed restoration and protection projects and to watershed groups developing action plans, including the Mill Creek Alliance; the Caesar Creek Collaborative; East Fork Collaborative; the Little Miami River Partnership; the Cooper Creek Collaborative; the Hogan Creek and Tanners Creek watershed planning groups and the Banklick Creek watershed planning project. In 2020 OKI is assisting with the development of data so that local partners can run the Agriculture Conservation Planning Framework model to assist in identifying the best locations to install agricultural BMPs to reduce nutrient runoff into the region’s streams and lakes. OKI is also leading the effort to update the Sharon Creek/Mill Creek nine element plan. OKI staff have utilized machine learning to conduct an analysis of riparian corridors along the East Fork Little Miami River tributaries as well as two of the tributaries of Caesar Creek Lake for Clermont County SWCD and Warren County SWCD respectively.

Since 2018 OKI has partnered with Green Umbrella, Hamilton County Planning, the Mill Creek Alliance, and Hamilton SWCD to install rain gardens at three Cincinnati Public Schools, North College Hill Middle School, and Deer Park High School. These rain gardens help soak rainwater into the ground, provide habitat for pollinators, and an outdoor learning space for students.


My Community’s Water – Interactive Web-based Tool

In 2016 OKI used Ohio EPA funding to develop web-based, interactive water resource profiles for each of the 122 cities, villages, and townships in Butler, Clermont, Hamilton, and Warren counties, Ohio. GIS analysis of our region’s water resources lays the groundwork for informed choices when the public and private sectors plan the fate of natural systems, public facilities, and land use. Quantifiable data is conveyed through maps, tables, pie charts, and text. This allows fair comparisons on watersheds, streams, aquifers, impervious surfaces, tree canopy, demographics, designated floodplains, and soils within the boundaries of a local political jurisdiction. View the tool.


OKI’s Groundwater Committee 

OKI works with water suppliers who rely on aquifers in southwest Ohio and southeast Indiana through this Committee to promote coordinated groundwater management across local boundaries. The Committee identifies water quality and quantity issues of regional concern, and meets quarterly to exchange information, host technical and educational presentations, and identify areas where intergovernmental coordination is needed. For the latest information on this Committee click here.


Source Water Protection Assistance 

OKI has provided technical assistance to water suppliers in several jurisdictions to formulate source water protection plans, including Dearborn County, Butler County, Clermont County and the Village of New Miami, Ohio, and will continue to do so as funding permits. OKI has also worked with St. Clair Township in Butler County and the Miami Conservancy District to develop a comprehensive plan for the township that incorporates source water protection as an essential element.


OKI Regional Conservation Council 

The OKI Regional Conservation Council is comprised of the soil and water conservation districts from all the counties of region, and is a collegial information-sharing body for the promotion and implementation of best practices, especially for managing stormwater run-off and the pollutants it carries. The RCC convenes during events twice each year. For the latest information on RCC activities, click here.


OKI Elements of an Effective Local Comprehensive Plan 

OKI published the Elements of an Effective Local Comprehensive Plan in January 2016.  OKI staff has presented this Guide at local conference and workshop sessions, including the region’s annual David J Allor Planning and Zoning Workshop and often features topical elements at OKI Regional Planning Forum events.  To date, 150 copies have been distributed to local communities and private sector consultants.  For a copy of the Guide or to request a workshop please contact Andy Meyer, Senior Planner

Based on the 2014 SRPP update, new topic areas included in the 2016 publication include Public Health, Energy, and Community Character.

Guidance and Technical Assistance

Tools, research and resources related to the Comprehensive Planning and Land Use Planning are available as a service to local government in the region. OKI staff is available to provide technical assistance for specific local planning needs and projects as resources permit. In addition, OKI has developed planning guidance documents and model ordinances on special topics related to the How Do We Grow From Here? Plan. OKI staff will update the documents as needed. For additional information and links to the guidance documents, click here.


OKI Regional Planning Forum

OKI holds information meetings each year for professional planners across the region, called Regional Planning Forum. The forum features a variety of topics that help inform planners about the issues and policy recommendations in the How Do We Grow from Here? Plan. The purpose of the Forum is to create a regional outlet for sharing information, experience and expertise among planners and those in related disciplines so that we can provide the best possible quality of life for those who live and work in our region. For more information, click here.