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Cascade Agenda

Cascade Agenda – A vision of the next 100 years in the Puget Sound…

From the Cascade Agenda website:

The Cascade Agenda is a view of regional growth that depends on the market’s ability to re-allocate our scarce resources, especially land and water. It incorporates, rather than excludes vibrant communities as an important piece of effective conservation operations.

The task is great and we are quickly approaching a time when the power to shape our region into a better place to live is fast disappearing. Our efforts at the Cascade Agenda currently focus on two of the major elements that will help to form the foundations of a better future.

One is Significant Conservation:
We want to conserve a million acres of working farms and forests and about 265,000 acres of lands that need to be preserved outright because of their special character to preserve fish runs, provide habitat or create a new part to serve everyone.

The other is working to create Great Communities:

Taking a step that might seem unusual, or even counterintuitive for an organization concentrating on conservation, we moved out of the woods and stepped onto Main Street. The Cascade Agenda decided to widen the scope of what is really involved in large scale conservation and quickly realized that strong communities are vital to the success of such efforts. Without them, there is nothing to stop sprawl. If we do not have strong communities that attract and retain people, we will never succeed in conserving land on the scale we envision.

The region faces three challenges in this first decade of the 21st Century – rapid population growth, an oil-scarce future and climate change. Ignore any one of them at our peril.

Our numbers are growing. Estimates of a doubling of the Puget Sound region to 7 million people by 2100 may be too conservative. No-growth movements of the past are not the answer. We cannot afford to ignore the inevitable, growth is coming. It is why we are looking at such tools as Transfer of Development Rights and Conservation Villages to enable controlled growth while having the smallest impact on the land.

Climate change is already upon us. The supporters of The Cascade Agenda already working on various aspects of the issue, asking a number of key questions:

* How conserving and restoring river banks helps trap and slow water that would be otherwise lost to runoff. This will become increasingly important as climate change reduces Cascade Mountain snowpack and runoff in the coming years.
* How conserving and restoring forests removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere (creating and maintaining carbon sinks). While there is some ongoing debate as to the overall carbon value of trees and forests, there is little to no question about their much needed ability to help cleanse the air we breathe.
* How we can control the generation of greenhouse gases by focusing development, which would mean fewer and shorter bus and car trips which generate the harmful emissions.
* How restoring our city wooded parklands attracts people who would otherwise have to drive out to the country to enjoy nature – improving the regional quality of life while also reducing emissions.

The Cascade Agenda holds the promise of leaving a future worthy of our children and grandchildren and the legacy of a region that worked hard to shape its own bright future. Our challenges are urgent but it is not too late. Now is the time to protect our environment, economy and quality of life.


The Cascade Agenda was initiated by the Cascade Land Conservancy (now renamed Forterra) of the greater Seattle region through the Cascade Dialogues project that involved thousands of citizens, many experts and stakeholders of all walks fo life. I have participated as part of the Cascade Agenda implementation team and a volunteer assisting the project staff. The Cascade Agenda has involved many groups and businesses in their work and therein lies the strength of the vision and movement.