Cascade Land Conservancy outlines 100-year Cascade Agenda conservation plan in May 2005.

  • By Kate Kershner
  • Posted 1/10/2012
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 9989

In May 2005, the Cascade Land Conservancy (later renamed Forterra) outlines the Cascade Agenda, a 100-year conservation plan to protect 1.3 million acres of forest, farms, and other Puget Sound land. Along with preserving wilderness and open spaces, the Cascade Agenda moves to create vibrant urban areas by partnering with developers and public officials. The rough value of the conservation land is about $7 million over the next hundred years.  

Working Together 

The Cascade Agenda came out of formal and informal dialogues between several key groups in the Northwest. Builders, developers, Fortune 500 business executives, public officials, environmental advocates, and even neighborhood activists started meeting in 2004 to discuss what the future of the Cascade region should look like. More than 4,500 people participated in planning and brainstorming meetings. 

The agenda had two main goals: to conserve nearly 1.3 million acres of land, and to do so while also creating thriving and economically viable cities and towns. Paramount in the strategy was the belief that "the foundation of an outstanding quality of life is a good job, and … conservation and economic development need each other to succeed" ("Cascade Agenda: 100 Years Forward"). The plan (and partners as diverse as Weyerhaeuser, tribal leaders, The Boeing Company, and Seattle Public Utilities) thus focused not just on conservation, but also on ensuring proper and sustainable development.  

Now and in the Future 

Using population projections and growth analyses, the Cascade Agenda set forth ideas to implement short-, mid-, and long-range plans. The agenda already has helped push forward a Transfer of Development Rights Program that will swap ecologically sensitive land slated for development for land that is more suitable for growth.  

The Cascade Land Conservancy and its partners also began Cascade Agenda Cities, which educates cities on how to become "complete, compact, and connected" ("Cascade Agenda Cities Program …"). So far, Tacoma, Kirkland, Issaquah, Shoreline, Ellensburg, Edmonds, Snohomish, Mountlake Terrace, Buckley, Mill Creek, and Lynnwood are Cascade Agenda Cities. Fourteen thousand acres of parkland has been added to the Cascade region, and several cities have chosen to participate in the organization's Green Cities program, which will restore 6,000 acres of forested parklands. 

In 2011, the Cascade Land Conservancy announced the Olympic Agenda, a 100-year vision for the Olympic Peninsula.  The agenda included a conservation plan for 550,000 acres of land, trail planning, and models for the "new Peninsula town," which while small, plays a role in the global economy ("Olympic Agenda …").  The organization changed its name to Forterra in November 2011.


Sources: Neal Peirce, "Puget Sound Region's Cascade Agenda is a National Model for Managing Growth," The Seattle Times, July 18, 2010 (http://seattletimes.com); "The Cascade Agenda: A New Conversation," Ibid., May 1, 2008; Gene Duvernoy and Charles Bingham, "The Cascade Agenda," Ibid., May 22, 2005; "The Cascade Agenda: A 100 Year Vision for King, Kittitas, Pierce, and Snohomish Counties," Forterra website accessed December 6, 2011 (http://www.forterra.org/who_we_are/cascade_agenda); "The Cascade Agenda: 100 Years Forward," Forterra website accessed December 6, 2011 (http://www.forterra.org/files/1.1_Cascade_Agenda_Summary.pdf); "The Olympic Agenda: A First Look," Cascade Land Conservancy website accessed December 8, 2011 (http://www.cascadeland.org/the-olympic-agenda/First%20Look_FINAL_Low%20Res2011.pdf); "Cascade Agenda Cities Program Grows to an Even Dozen," Cascade Land Conservancy website accessed January 9, 2012 (http://www.cascadeland.org/news/press-releases/cascade-agenda-cities-program-grows-to-an-even-dozen); "Cascade Land Conservancy Changes Name to Forterra as It Expands Its Mission," Cascade Land Conservancy website accessed January 9, 2012 (http://www.cascadeland.org/news/press-releases/cascade-land-conservancy-changes-name-to-forterra-as-it-expands-its-mission).

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