Learning about Detroit’s Soil with Green Eyes

Yesterday, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) came out to teach various Detroit Community Leaders about the environmental history our magnificent city holds. Recently, the Mayor of Detroit- Dave Bing, has incorporated the “Building, Safety Engineering, and Environmental Department” (BSEED) into functions of the Department of Environmental Affairs. Their mission <span style=”text-decoration:underline;”><em>is to safegaurd public health, safety, and welfare by enforcing construction, property maintenance, environmental compliance and zoning codes, which will preserve enhance property values and promote a quality of life to make Detroit a preferred place to reside and conduct business.

Joe Calus gives us a soil survey demonstration
Joe Calus gives us a soil survey demonstration

As much as I love my city of Detroit, I’m happy about this initiative and believe it’s something that can change the city completely around with the right amount of support, resources, and an empowered community that believes in the movement to back it up. Without the faith of our people, our actions toward conserving and sustaining our society means nothing. Joe Calus, from the USDA National Resources Conservation Service, explained to a group of Community &amp; Organization leaders as well as myself, about soil mapping and how soil surveys can help rebuild our community. This service can help home buyers or developers determine soil related benefits or hazards that may affect their potential home or business sites. It also helps land use planners determine the suitability of areas for housing and on-site sewage disposal systems.

We viewed the Geologic Atlas of Detroit, and then he further explained to us about the Wayne County Shore Line. The map and soil description helps in identifying conservation problems in a given area and planning measures. Soil surveys can help community planners determine the most appropriate areas for urban expansion. I’ve learned that very often much of our land is actually sand underneath, which is great for building because the land is so dry. Our grass, trees, and plants are usually grounded by artificial filler and in urban communities. He explained how the city may have invested planting trees along the freeway in the past, but unfortunately they eventually died because the roots weren’t deep enough.

Want to obtain a soil survey?
Call your local office of Natural Resources Conservation Service to determine whether a soil survey of the area that interests you is available in digital format at http://solidatamart.nrcs.usda.gov
Also reach out to soil conservationist or soil scientist assigned to your county.

– Life as an Environmental and Climate Justice Ambassador

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