Growing Greener in Southwest Michigan

Growing Greener In Southwest Michigan

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An Initiative of the Southwest Michigan Planning Commission and the Friends of the St. Joe River


What is Growing Greener in Southwest Michigan? 

Growing Greener in Southwest Michigan is a multi-jurisdictional (regional) initiative, encompassing Berrien, Cass and Van Buren Counties, which seeks to create a vision of green infrastructure (a network of natural resources and open spaces) based on science and public input.  This vision can be used as a tool for more sustainable economic growth and community development in southwest Michigan.


Green Infrastructure Survey Results Available!

As part of the public input process for the Growing Greener initiative, a mail survey of 3,000 homeowners in Berrien, Cass and Van Buren was conducted by Michigan State University.  The survey will help to gain a better understanding of local residents' perspective on conservation of water and land resources and recreation in their communities.  The survey results can be found in the report and appendices:

 Community Needs Analysis - Mail Survey (1.19 MB)  Appendices (1.18 MB)


Green Infrastructure in Southwest Michigan:

  • 765 lakes that are greater than or equal to 1 acre
  • 1,023 miles of river and streams
  • 55 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline
  • 6 state parks and several county and local parks
  • Farmland producing diverse local foods
  • Sand dunes, wetlands and forests


Green Infrastructure is attractive to various segments of the population, including knowledge workers.

  • 65+ are strongly attracted by quiet landscapes with water, forest and open‐space amenities.
  • 36‐64s' like walkable communities, with parks and recreation opportunities (biking, hiking, etc).
  • 24‐35's enjoy dense communities, with integrated green infrastructure, and recreation opportunities, such as biking, boating and sports.

Maps Available!

See maps of Potential Conservation Areas in Berrien, Cass and Van Buren Counties.  As part of the science based input for a green infrastructure vision, these maps were developed by Michigan Natural Features Inventory. These maps will provide the basis for a green infrastructure vision.


See these Fact Sheets for more information on Green Infrastructure:

1. Green Infrastructure Overview

2. Economic Benefits of Green Infrastructure 

3. Health Benefits of Green Infrastructure


More on Green Infrastructure:


Your commitment means that your organization, municipality or agency is willing to be a part of the process to further the idea and plans of a green infrastructure vision.  Your participation is voluntary, but it is also critical to create a successful vision, plan and implementation strategy for the Growing Greener initiative in Southwest Michigan. 


Become a partner today click to sign the Resolution of Support Mail or fax back a signed Resolution of Support to:


Marcy Hamilton

Southwest Michigan Planning Commission
376 West Main St. Suite 130,

Benton Harbor, MI 49022-3651

Fax: (269) 925-0288

What does Green Infrastructure Look Like in Southwest Michigan
Learn more about GI
Silver Beach-Berrien County
Silver Beach-Berrien County
Lawrence Townhall-Van Buren County [Click here to view full size picture]
Lawrence Townhall-Van Buren County