Nature Noted

Notes on a changing Nature

Location: Bellville, Texas, United States

I never would have predicted this one

Monday, May 23, 2005

Thinking Big, Really Big

The Cascade Land Conservancy has announced a breathtaking $7 Billion (yes, that's a "B") plan to save green spaces in western Washington state covering more than a million acres. The plan was developed after months of discussion with the public, developers and state officials. The highlights include * Conserving 93 percent - or 777,000 acres - of private working forests in the Cascade Mountain range, while permanently protecting another 5 percent, or 48,000 acres, of forest in the four counties. More than 2 million acres of forest already are in public hands.
* Preserving 21,000 acres of foothill forests to protect the headwaters of the region's rivers, as well as protecting another 14,000 acres along Puget Sound shorelines and estuaries.
* Conserving 85 percent of the agricultural land remaining in the four counties, including 106,000 acres in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties, and 200,000 acres in Kittitas.
* Adding 82,500 acres to destination parks and another 30,000 acres to urban parks to keep up with residential growth.

And just where does $7 billion dollars for the plan come from?
According to the AP story on the plans In early steps to ease the resulting development pressure, conservancy officials hope to invest $2 billion in the purchase of land and development rights, raising money by selling bonds, collecting management revenues from working forests now in production and soliciting local, state and federal government grants.
Conservancy President Gene Duvernoy said spending from various sources on conservation and green space in the four counties is now nearly $50 million a year. Boosting that to an average of $70 million annually over the next century requires about $20 million more each year from investments and land revenues, he said.
"So instead of letting governments work on isolated projects, we need to get them to make a concerted effort toward the plan's goals," Duvernoy said

The plan is already getting positive comments from developers. It's an audacious idea. And all know what they're getting into..Creative initiatives will be needed to see the plan work, however, Duvernoy said. But already the moves to "green" building, transfer-development rights and cluster development in rural areas are showing success. The rest will come with focus and hard work, he said. "This is not a plan for the faint of heart," he said. "But when you look at the diversity of organizations supporting this effort, you'll start to see it's more and more feasible.
This will be one to watch.


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