Letting Nature Take its Course

Facing urban decline and abandonment, a growing list of U.S. cities may be dramatically accelerating the process by returning vast swathes of land to nature.
June 16, 2009, 12pm PDT | Michael Dudley
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Flint, Michigan may be the first of dozens of ailing American cities to undergo major surgery: the local government is looking at bulldozing up to 40% of the buildings and letting cleared areas revert to nature.

The Federal government is asking the scheme's architect Dan Kildee, (treasurer of Genesee County, which includes Flint) to apply the plan to as many as 50 (mostly rust-belt) cities which were recently identified in a Brookings Institution study, including Detroit, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Memphis.

'"The real question is not whether these cities shrink – we're all shrinking – but whether we let it happen in a destructive or sustainable way," said Mr Kildee. "Decline is a fact of life in Flint. Resisting it is like resisting gravity."'

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Published on Monday, June 15, 2009 in London Telegraph
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