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Community & Economic Vitality

This project will link fluvial geomorphology to New England-specific climate, landscape, ecology, population, and infrastructure to develop best management practices for flood prevention. Also, it will uncover challenges and constraints caused by distinct jurisdictional and institutional fragmentation, highlighting successful strategies for overcoming these. The extension aspect will take this much-needed scientific and institutional knowledge and disseminate it among towns, government officials, landowners, businesses, environmental organizations, road crews, and others.

Increasing the consumption of fruits and vegetables in young children and reducing childhood obesity is a key national nutrition goal. This project will examine use of  a sensory-affective, comprehensive approach to promote early childhood consumption of locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables. The direct correlation between fruit and vegetable consumption and lowering of obesity is yet to be established in this life-stage. However, the prevalence of obesity has more than doubled among children ages two to five (5.0% to 12.4%).

The UMass Extension SNAP-Ed program is part of a national nutrition education effort funded through the US Department of Agriculture's Supplemental Assistance Program (SNAP). The overarching goal of SNAP-Ed is to provide nutrition education programs and activities that help adults and youth eligible for SNAP to establish healthy eating habits and physically active lifestyles.

Food insecurity, or not having access at all times to enough food for an active and healthy lifestyle, has been linked to a number of poor health outcomes, including low micronutrient intake, poor academic scores in children and adolescents, and overweight and obesity in adults. The federally-funded Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) program provides nutrition education to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients and eligibles and other low-income families.

Rural landscapes around the world face intense development pressures from nearby urban areas. In the United States, rampant, low-density development at the urban fringe consumed approximately 800,000 ha of land in the last decade (USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service 2004). New subdivision developments and new towns are blanketing the landscape, often with little or inadequate provision for green infrastructure. This is certainly the case in New England, one of the nation's most densely populated regions. For example, every day 16 ha.

Urbanization has increased demand for water and impaired aquatic ecosystems, threatening water resources worldwide. Climate change and more frequent droughts are expected to exacerbate this situation. Residential landscaping, especially lawns, are a major factor in increasing domestic water use.

Outreach efforts have been made to promote outdoor residential water conservation and promote methods that provide ecosystem benefits. These include water harvesting using rain barrels, infiltrating storm water using rain gardens, and landscaping with native plants.

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