Land Cover and Development
Priorities for 2018-2022 focus on accelerating progress toward reducing conversion of ecologically important lands, one of four targets associated with the Land Development and Cover Vital Sign.
Puget Sound is the home to over 4 million people. The need for homes, businesses, roads, developments and agriculture should be balanced with strategic ecosystem protection. Forest and riparian areas provide important habitat for many species and reduce the rate of polluted runoff flowing into Puget Sound. The Land Development and Cover Vital Sign indicator targets measure how well we are managing our region’s growth while protecting the highest quality remaining natural areas and working forests. Areas on the fringe of urban areas and those that are on transportation corridors between urban areas are particularly vulnerable to development. Efforts to reduce conversion of ecologically important lands are especially important in Mason, Pierce, and Skagit counties, where current estimates indicate that land conversion rates are highest.
As described in the Land Development and Cover Implementation Strategy, the Regional Priorities in this focus area aim to reduce the conversion of ecologically important lands. The Priorities first emphasize that the technical resources and human capacity need to be in place to enable recovery planning. The Regional Priorities then promote the design of multi-benefit recovery plans--plans that balance population growth with the need to protect ecologically important lands. This leads to the identification of the best sites for restoration or protection while promoting strategic areas for urban growth. To enable successful implementation of the plans, the Regional Priorities provide an opportunity to address the policy and regulatory limitations that may inhibit funding or delay recovery actions. Finally, once plans are in place, the Regional Priorities promote implementing the recovery actions agreed upon in the multi-benefit plan, communicating the plan and its implementation to key audiences, and monitoring project outcomes to help adaptively manage strategic planning related to Land Development and Cover.