Sustainable Lands Strategy (SLS)
Snohomish County Commits to Enhancing Farms and Fish
The Sustainable Lands Strategy (SLS) Initiative began in 2010 as a joint effort by the county, state and tribal entities focused on the Snohomish and Stillaguamish River basins, the county’s two main river systems. SLS grew out of the sometimes contentious land use processes occurring when restoration actions were proposed on agricultural lands – an unintended consequence of the parallel but separate mandates for habitat restoration and agricultural lands preservation.
The purpose of SLS is to develop tools and strategies that will generate net gains (measurable improvements) for both salmon habitat and farms within the floodplains of those two regions; and apply them on river reach and countywide scales, to demonstrate how the goals of both farms and fish could be met harmoniously.
The lower Snohomish River, the Snohomish River Estuary, the Stillaguamish River Estuary and mainstem, and the Lower Skykomish River have each been identified as SLS program reaches where critical habitat improvements are needed to improve fish viability. These areas also represent critical agricultural resources which require preservation and improvements. The intention of SLS is to assess the geomorphic processes and habitat along each of the river reaches, develop potential agriculture and restoration projects, and bundle projects on a reach scale.
Achieving net gain
for farms and fish.
The implementation of SLS was divided into three phases:
Phase I: Developed a set of agreed upon principals and a framework for the SLS development process. Details of Phase I can be found in the Phase I Framework Report.
Phase II: Better defined net gain and developed a roadmap for implementation. The details were documented in the Phase II Framework Report.
Phase III: Is currently being implemented and will develop reach scale plans and the supporting policy and implementation structure needed for success. A final report document and four reach scale plans will be produced at the completion of Phase III.
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