Saving Puget Sound: A Conservation Strategy for the 21st Century

Chapter 2. A Conservation Vision for the Region

doi: https://doi.org/10.47886/9781888569834.ch2

The land speaks first. [Bremerton v. Kitsap County 1995]

In conservation, as in life, it is best to consider where we want to go before planning how to get there. In coming decades the Puget Sound region will have more people in its urban and rural areas, and the boundaries of our urban areas will be pushed outward. All realistic visions for the region’s future should anticipate this expansion. But that does not mean all realistic futures look the same.

The science is generally clear and consistent regarding conservation priorities across the Puget Sound landscape, summarized on the map in Figure 1-3. It is impossible to predict how much of our natural heritage we can conserve if we follow those priorities, especially given the uncertainties of climate change. But there are reasons to be optimistic that we can achieve net gains in large parts of our region. We can be certain that if we do not follow these priorities, our losses from both climate change and future growth will be greater. The scale of the map is too coarse to show exactly where restoration projects should take place. The map also does not identify projects outside of priority areas that, cumulatively, would still be important across the region. But the map does show, broadly, where we should seek to improve conditions if we are to conserve as much of our natural heritage as possible over the next century. Although future studies will correct details, the map is supported by overlapping recommendations from over a decade of regional research, not to mention basic principles of ecology and conservation biology.