Sustainable Lands Strategy

Snohomish County Barn

Common Ground and Agreement

In Snohomish County, an effort by municipal, state, federal and tribal governments, as well as conservation and agricultural interests, began in 2010 to look for ways to cooperate for the benefit of both fish and farms. The goal was to create a “Sustainable Lands Strategy” — a broad set of common understandings about the importance of fish and farms and the need for collaboration to simultaneously protect and enhance both resources while also recognizing and upholding Native American tribes' treaty rights and cultural traditions.

Snohomish County's Sustainable Lands Strategy balances the need to restore vital salmon habitat, and protect the viability of local agriculture while also reducing the effects of flooding in the flood plain.

Both farming and salmon production play a key role in the history, culture and economy of Snohomish County and can be protected through sustainable land projects.

How we do it
The Sustainable Lands Strategy works by looking at large stretches of river and estuary -- typically 8 to 10 miles at a time -- and creating a package of proposals that generate net gains in agricultural, tribal cultural, and ecological productivity and health in these water bodies and adjoining lands. 

The term “net gains” refers to the principle that the benefits of any work should be greater than its cost for every party involved. No person or group should be expected to accept a net loss so that someone else may gain. Only “win-win” agreements, in which everyone sees more gain than loss, should be completed under the Sustainable Lands Strategy.

This is only possible when we come together with similar goals including a desire to see a healthy ecosystem and economy. 

Where You'll Find Us

As part of the Sustainable Lands Strategy, work is being conducted within four major river reaches in Snohomish County. They are the Lower Skykomish River, the Lower Snohomish River, the Snohomish River Estuary, and the main stem of the Lower Stillaguamish River. Work here includes tributaries and side channel improvements.