Courtesy Parks & People Foundation/Valerie Shane

Officials from the Obama administration will be in West Baltimore today to announce several new federally funded environmental initiatives being launched right here in the city, John Fritze of the Sun reports.

Among those initiatives is a pilot program from the U.S. Department of Agriculture that would establish a center with cheap or free tools and resources to equip residents for “greening,” in which they take a vacant lot and turn it into green space. The space will be called the Green Resources and Outreach for Watersheds (GROW) Center.

The city already has greening programs in place, including Adopt-A-Lot through the Baltimore Housing Department and Power in Dirt through the mayor’s office. The housing department keeps a long running list of the many vacant properties in the city that are available or have already been claimed for greening. Both programs allow participants to pay a $120 flat rate for water to garden their new greenery throughout the year.

The Sun notes that the Parks & People Foundation based in Mondawmin has been instrumental in bringing greening to blighted areas of the city. The group told the paper that almost four-fifths of the lots adopted by residents and groups last year have been or are being converted into green sites. The foundation has played a significant role in that through its guidance and by providing $1,000 grants to get people started on their projects.

Federal officials will also announce new initiatives from the Fish and Wildlife Service to expand the wildlife refuge at Masonville Cove, from the Environmental Protection Agency to install a water-quality monitoring sensor in the Inner Harbor and from several agencies to build outdoor classrooms at city schools. Collectively, they will be providing around $750,000 to back the projects, according to the Sun.

Ethan McLeod is a freelance reporter in Baltimore. He previously worked as an editor for the Baltimore Business Journal and Baltimore Fishbowl. His work has appeared in Bloomberg CityLab, Next City and...