Perhaps the very audacity of the Cascade Agenda is the secret of its appeal and the predictor of its success. Look out 100 years and conserve...
Perhaps the very audacity of the Cascade Agenda is the secret of its appeal and the predictor of its success.
Look out 100 years and conserve the land, water supplies and vistas that make Puget Sound special in 2005.
The Cascade Land Conservancy unveiled a plan last week that proposes working with business, government and the environmental community to shelter 1.26 million acres for the future in King, Kittitas, Pierce and Snohomish counties.
As in past arrangements crafted by the conservancy, the goal is to use market-based incentives to secure its green goals. That means buying land or development rights from willing sellers. That also means keeping forest and agricultural lands in production.
Here is a plan to protect seven vast watersheds and conserve 106,000 acres of farmland west of the Cascades, and 200,000 acres in Kittitas County. Another 85,000 acres of parkland would be added in the next century. Wildlife habitat would span 140,000 acres on both sides of the Cascades. Land corridors for movement of wildlife would be kept.
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The numbers are huge and represent a delicate dance of public and private financing, and the creative use of bonds to let revenue-producing land pay for conservation. This is a $7 billion challenge over the next 100 years.
The vision is not for the faint of heart, concedes Gene Duvernoy, president of the conservancy, “but not to extend what we have is the height of irresponsibility.” Yes, indeed. Puget Sound residents have the capacity to push what we treasure and enjoy into the future.
Overall, the approach fits the temperament of the times. A certain fatigue has set in with aggressive styles of green activism. As the Cascade Agenda was readied for release, The Economist, the British news journal, called for “informed, innovative, incentive-based greenery” to move ahead. Editors appeared to be looking over Duvernoy’s shoulder.
This agenda is grounded in paying people for their land, sustaining jobs and revenue in the resource-based economy, and balancing restriction with opportunity.
The vision is careful not to conflict with the state Growth Management Act. The goal — and the genius — is to plan well beyond current urban-growth boundaries.
This agenda needs to be explained and understood before it will be embraced, but embraced it will be.