Time is running out to meet the biggest challenges of our day. Coordinated open space planning and decision-making can help. The ROSS is working to identify priorities and solutions for five key challenges facing the Puget Sound region where open space plays a critical role.


We are already seeing the effects of a changing climate on our region’s natural and built systems. Land use changes, population growth, resource extraction and habitat degradation will compound the dangers of climate change. But open space can mitigate and minimize the effects of extreme weather and natural disasters.


Open space in developed regions like the Central Puget Sound is critical to fostering biodiversity. A diversity of species and ecosystems gives us the strongest chance of maintaining the wide range of biological processes and their benefits to the region’s economy, health and culture in the face of inevitable changes like population increase to climate change.


Historically, minority and low income populations have been underserved and undervalued in open space planning. The result is an inequitable distribution of open space benefits that exacerbates other challenges these communities face. Open space planning requires prioritizing equity to ensure that all residents benefit from the environment that we are so proud of here in the Puget Sound region.


We cannot afford to underestimate the importance of open space in supporting human health. The quality of air, water and soil, healthy food and good nutrition depend on open space and it provides opportunities for physical activity, reduces stress and improves social connections. Despite 40 years of evidence, these benefits are often not a part of planning efforts. The ROSS is changing that.


From supporting the timber, agriculture, recreation and tourism industries, to attracting anchor businesses, retaining their employees and boosting real estate values, open space plays a significant role in the region's economy. Balancing the preservation of open space with the demands of growth will be a challenge for regional decision makers in coming years.


The ROSS is convening expert regional Task Forces to explore how open space investments can support solutions to these five key regional challenges. A set of white papers is underway to highlight the relationships with regional open space, metrics for assessing how the region can optimize benefits, and action plans to advance steps that the region needs to take to address each challenge. Check back frequently as we begin to share these guiding papers. Learn more about who is involved in these Task Forces.

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