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The Greenprint for King County is an open space and resource lands conservation and acquisition strategy that reflects information generated from a custom-designed landscape characterization GIS model, completion of a King County Conservation Finance Study, and extensive public outreach. King County DNRP and the Trust for Public Land collaborated on this exciting project. The Greenprint for King County received a 2005 Honor Award, in the category of emerging technology, from the American Planning Association and the Planning Association of Washington.

Why is Greenprint important?

For over 40 years, the King County region aggressively pursued land conservation in a forward thinking manner, as evidenced by the Farmlands Preservation Program's protection of over 13,000 acres of productive farmlands, the creation of over 100 miles of regional trails, Water Ways 2000 protection of significant water resources, and the preservation of over 96,000 acres of forests. A variety of methods were used to achieve this protected network of open space and resource lands, including publicly voted bonds, dedicated revenues such as Conservation Futures Tax, transfer or purchase of development rights and other creative means.

To address recent pressing resource conservation issues, such as: species becoming listed under the Endangered Species Act; population increases; Growth Management Act requirements to reduce sprawl; and global warming induced climate change in the Pacific Northwest, King County needs a comprehensive land conservation strategy, encompassing all of these programs. At the same time, the County's financial resources have become increasingly constrained. Directing those limited resources towards the highest land conservation strategies has never been more essential. The Greenprint for King County is intended to do that, and to state the case for increasing the financial capacity to conserve critical lands.

A geographic information systems (GIS) model was created to inform the development of the Greenprint for King County. This GIS model evaluates existing conservation values across the county landscape according to six King County program areas: ecological lands, farm, forest, flood protection, regional trails, and marine shorelines. It is possible to adjust the GIS model and incorporate different data sets and criteria weights as regional priorities, policies, and information emerges. King County DNRP continues to use this dynamic analytical tool to ensure that limited resources are directed to the highest value lands, so the county can continue to fulfill its mission to be the regional steward of the environment while strengthening sustainable communities.


King County will complete a Greenprint conservation funding strategy by December 2005, to identify how to protect an additional 500,000 acres of land, per the recommendations contained within the Greenprint for King County. King County maintains and continues to improve the Greenprint for King County GIS model to inform DNRP open space and resource lands program areas in the following ways:

  1. Acquisition Strategy -- Focus Funds on Highest Priority Acquisitions
    • Identify specific parcels of most value to purchase.
    • Common database to evaluate purchases across all programs.
  2. WRIA Salmon Recovery -- Implementing the Plans
    • Model can be updated to include any new direction, information, criteria by WRIA.
    • Ability to focus on specific parcels identified by problem reaches.
  3. Capital Program -- Upgrade Degrading Basins
    • Possibly shift focus of restoration projects.
  4. Regulations -- Improve Efficiency
    • Mitigation Credit Program.
    • Federal and state level coordination.

    Public involvement

    A primary objective of the Greenprint for King County was to create a common conservation vision for King County. Towards that end, the project team interviewed over twenty incorporated cities, agency officials, and a significant number of non-profit entities that play important roles in acquiring, preserving and protecting critical resource lands within King County. Discussions with the cities were particularly important because of the intense urbanization pressure in King County's incorporated cities. A complete list of public outreach contacts is contained within table 11 of the Greenprint for King County report.

  5. Growth Management Act -- Urban Growth Boundary (UGB) Protection
    • Targeted acquisitions and land conservation actions on the rural side of the Urban Growth Boundary to help direct urban development into cities and protect rural character.