The City of Pasco - one of the cities in the Tri-Cities region - was the 10th fastest growing city in Washington State last year. The city, as well as the region in general, is seeing a huge influx of residents from other parts of the state, as well as young families and retirees in search of reasonable home prices and fair weather. All that growth means that urban development is more likely to start spreading out - an easy prospect in an area surrounded by seemingly limitless development potential. However, the sprawl protections enabled through the state's Growth Management Act limit that potential, which means that cities and counties in the region need a proactive strategy for economically viable growth in the coming decades.
Enter Futurewise. Earlier this year, Futurewise was awarded funding through the Columbia River Keeper to develop a Tri-Cities program that addresses Columbia River health by supporting direct policy initiatives like protecting shoreline, habitat, critical areas, and water quality. However, the Riverkeeper also recognized that Futurewise' work supporting indirect policies such as encouraging infill development, greater urban density, and active transportation also have a long-term positive impact on the Columbia River system.
Thanks to Riverkeeper funding, this September Futurewise hired staff to work "on the ground" in the Tri-Cities with the goal of advancing water quality and environmental resource protection, encouraging economically vibrant urban areas, and advancing elements of this work through the lens of racial equity and social justice. Already, our new staff person, Alison Cable, is off and running with a long list of local contacts and issues derived from reconnaissance meetings earlier this year. We are looking forward to posting more about our work in the Tri-Cities, as we seek to lift up and add capacity to the efforts of local organizations taking on similar efforts. In the meantime, if you have questions, or want to get involved in the Tri-Cities, send an email to Alison@futurewise.org.