Before you can determine the impact of your development plan, you must find out what exists on and around the development site. What do you already know about a prairie? Record everything you know right now.
The Smallville prairie is similar to Fermilab's tallgrass prairie in Batavia, Illinois. Grasses, forbs and animals found in the Fermilab prairie have been found in the Smallville prairie. Groups may want to work together on the environmental survey. Refer to the map of Smallville Township and the development planning map for basic information. This survey will show the residents that you have examined the development site carefully. A brief summary of this survey will be part of the environmental impact statement. Your survey might include:
- A list of plants and animals found in the prairie.
- A list of the trees found in the forest area.
- A list of the plants and animals found in the wetlands area.
- Information on the water quality of the Otter River.
Prairie Management Plan (Top of Page)
Each group must prepare a prairie management plan. Explain how you will take care of and improve the prairie areas around your development. Describe steps you will take to keep the prairie in good shape. Will the prairie need to be burned? Are you planning a nature trail or signs labeling the different plants and flowers?
Development Blueprint (Top of Page)
This visual aid will give the residents a picture of your development plan. A drawing of the 40-acre site and the surrounding area (refer to the development planning map) must show the location of all buildings, parking lots, roads, etc.
Development Benefits (Top of Page)
In order to "sell" your proposal, you need to convince residents of the benefits your plan will bring Smallville. Complete an analysis of the development benefits, indicating whether they are fact or opinion. Support your factual statements with references on this form. Consider:
- Economic Benefits - anything that brings more money and jobs, or increases the standard of living of the community.
- Social Benefits - anything that makes people happier, eliminates poverty, provides entertainment or improves the quality of life in Smallville.
- Environmental Benefits - anything that improves the ecosystem of Smallville. This could include helping to eliminate sound, noise, water, air or landscape pollution. Anything that improves the health of the residents would be an environmental benefit.
- Miscellaneous Benefits - anything not included in the other categories. Be creative!
Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) (Top of Page)
Companies must complete an environmental impact statement. Residents are very interested in how your development will affect their environment and quality of life. A careful, scientific presentation of the facts will help people make the best decision. The EIS format lists what you must include. You must be factual. The preparation of this environmental impact statement goes hand-in-hand with drawing the blueprint of your planned development. Be prepared to answer the questions.
Biological Assessment (BA) (Top of Page)
The Prairie Advisory Council must complete a biological assessment. A BA report determines whether a project may affect endangered or threatened species. Some form of consultation with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) is desirable to ensure that you indentify all species that are or may soon be protected. If a company's proposal may affect these animals or plants, the company must request a consultation with the USFWS.
This may provide an opportunity for a discussion between your group and a real-world agency. You should CLEARLY identify yourself when communicating with outside organizations. "We are student researchers from Madison Junior High School in Naperville, Illinois. We are looking for information about the status of the Franklin ground squirrel. . . ." Through an Internet search, the BA might include:
- A list of endangered/threatened species (state and federal) found in the prairie site.
- Specific information about each endangered/threatened species such as physical description (picture or drawing), requirements for food, water and shelter, the reason the species is endangered, interesting facts about the species, and anything else you find important.
- How building on this site will affect these plants and animals.
- Steps the community could take to prevent any company from hurting the plants or animals on the site.
Development Plan Analysis (Top of Page)
Town council members and residents will analyze the development plans. During the oral presentations, people will fill out one of these forms for EACH GROUP. Indicate whether each positive or negative factor is a fact (F) or an opinion (O). A fact is something which can be proven by going to a respected source (encyclopedia, expert, atlas, dictionary, etc.). For example, the statement, "This project will bring 1,000 new jobs to Smallville," would be a fact if it could be shown that similar projects have brought the same number of new jobs in other communities. Opinions are statements which usually involve feelings. "Green is a better color than blue" would be an opinion. They are also statements which can not be verified by references such as, "Everyone enjoys going to an amusement park."
Positive concerns make things better while negative concerns make things worse. A concern could be both positive and negative at the same time. "This project will create more jobs and increase the quality of life for the people of Smallville but will create more air pollution."