Environmental Corridors

Environmental corridors refer to an interconnected green space network of natural areas and features, public lands, and other open spaces that provide natural resource value. Environmental corridor planning is a process that promotes a systematic and strategic approach to land conservation and encourages land-use planning and practices that are good for both nature and people. It provides a framework to guide future growth, land development, and land conservation decisions that accommodate population growth and protect community and natural resources assets.

The Bay-Lake Regional Planning Commission definition of primary environmental corridors includes:

Waterways (with 75-foot setback)


Wetlands (with 50-foot buffer)

Steep Slopes

Steep Slopes



Regional Brochure/Mini-Poster - 2012

Ecor Region brochure

County Brochures/Mini-Posters - 2005

Brown County

...Door County

Florence County

Kewaunee County

Manitowoc County

Marinette County

Oconto County

Sheboygan County






Protection Tools

With the many benefits that environmental corridors afford people and communities, implementing environmental corridor protection is recommended to facilitate their preservation. Environmental corridors can be protected through community planning, ordinances, zoning, conservation easements, and public acquisition. Environmental corridor planning can compliment community planning efforts and conservation goals. The following are examples of tools that can be used to preserve environmental corridors:

  • Incorporate environmental corridors into the natural resources/environmental chapters of comprehensive plans and conservation goals
  • Ordinance development (conservation subdivisions or shoreland protection)
  • Park, open space, and recreational planning
  • Zoning land for conservation, recreation, or public utility easements
  • Utilize purchase of development rights or transfer of development rights
  • Tourism strategies
  • Viewshed protection
  • Transportation planning and multi-modal planning
  • Conservation easement programs
  • Public acquisition

Environmental corridors are not limited to natural or pristine areas. Environmental corridor planning is often needed in grey infrastructure areas when asphalt and buildings threaten to obliterate the green infrastructure. In developed areas, environmental corridors can be restored to reconnect green spaces.

Landowners can also help preserve and restore environmental corridors by maintaining shoreland vegetation and planting trees along streams. Remove hard surfaces and use nature landscaping and rain gardens to provide water infiltration and recharge aquifers; plant native species and establish non-mowed areas; and install bird and bat houses. Landowners with large property holdings may consider acquiring a conservation easement to protect natural areas while providing some tax relief. Farmers can ensure that their forests and farmlands have management plans that conserve both natural and economic resources.

ECor Elements


For more information about environmental corridors in the Bay-Lake Region, please contact:
Angela Kowalzek-Adrians, Natural Resources Planner
Phone: (920) 448-2820
Email: AngelaKA@baylakerpc.org


The Bay-Lake Regional Planning Commission was recognized as a "Regional Center of Excellence" by the National Association of Regional Councils in 2009 for its environmental corridor work.


The brochures on this page were made possible through a grant from the National Association of Regional Councils.

NOAA logo WCMP Logo (full)

This webpage was made possible through a grant from NOAA and the Wisconsin Coastal Management Program.