Smart Growth

The Smart Growth Program works with Snohomish County local governments through education, outreach, activism, coalition building and advocacy regarding comprehensive land use planning and development regulations to achieve more livable, sustainable urban communities, while protecting our county’s natural resource and rural lands, our air and water quality, and wildlife and fish habitat from irresponsible development.

Snohomish County is home to some of the most productive forest and farmland, and diverse fish and wildlife habitat of anywhere in the United States. Snohomish County’s shorelines are among the most valuable and fragile of Washington’s natural resources. Native fish, birds, wildlife and the lake, estuarine, and riparian ecosystems that support them, depend on strong critical area and shoreline protections.

Snohomish County is now home to over 700,000 residents and the prediction is that by the year 2025, this county will grow to 950,000 people. In fact, over the past decade, Snohomish County has grown by 30 percent, outstripping Washington’s overall population growth by almost 50 percent. Salmon habitat, farmland, and open space in our densely populated urban areas are being converted to housing developments and shopping malls at alarming rates. The effects of this growth is impacting our urban neighborhoods; the increase of large rural cluster developments are forever changing the rural landscape; and the pressure to build a new city of 15,000 people out in the pristine rural areas that lack adequate infrastructure is real. The increase in impervious surfaces from roads and rooftops has led to more run-off and pollution of our streams and rivers and lakes, and the loss of wildlife habitat still continues despite some good efforts.

Rapid growth is a threat to the sustainability of our natural resources and rural lands, and will continue to greatly impact our wildlife and their habitats if Snohomish County’s planning process and regulations do not address protections of these areas adequately. As pressures from the development community grows to expand urban growth areas, to allow for more development in our sensitive areas, to rezone open space, forest and farm land into homes, we must be there to educate citizens and help them be involved in the public process to ensure their quality of life.

Pilchuck Audubon Society is part of a larger coalition of organizations, groups and individuals who will be working toward positive change in Snohomish County in order to have more livable communities and protect our environment. The coalition is currently named the Livable Snohomish County Coalition. If you would like to be more involved, please join our coalition to work on a proactive agenda for our future. For more details, contact Kristin Kelly at 425.923.8625 or e-mail