Issaquah is defined by its passion for, access to, and protection of the natural environment. Residents hold in high regard Issaquah's iconic natural setting and strong environmental values. Residents want to engage in protecting and improving the environment, as well as acquiring new lands for the public's benefit. Success will come from active stewardship by the community and its partners, coupled with thoughtful strategies, projects and policies.
Residents of Issaquah regard the natural environment as one of the community's most valuable and defining characteristics. Visitors also flock from across the region to enjoy Issaquah's natural areas that provide habitat, recreation, views and essential ecological functions. Issaquah is well-known in the region for its leading sustainability practices, and more than 20% of the City's total acreage is preserved natural and open spaces.
The natural environment received overwhelmingly positive (90%) responses on the National Community Survey. During the development of the Strategic Plan, participants said they want to go beyond preserving and protecting to engaging as active stewards of the environment. Respondents to the survey also value the ease of access and proximity to natural areas and enjoy the community's many recreational opportunities. The City plays an active role in protecting the environment both locally and regionally.
The health of Issaquah's aquifer, streams and salmon are important, and more than 70% of the water going into Lake Sammamish flows through the City. Restoration efforts for local salmon species are underway and the City's Parks and Recreation Department recently completed a Parks Strategic Plan detailing a clear vision for the City's park system and open spaces. The impacts of climate will require thoughtful consideration of conservation practices and adaptive responses as the City continues to urbanize. Similarly, the management of the community's forests is increasingly important as forest health conditions are better understood.
Our natural environment is protected and improved, in a consistent, responsible and sustainable manner - (ES1)
- Assess environmental plans and update codes, policies and standards to address gaps and vulnerabilities. Update and report on baseline conditions.
- Develop a Project Performance Review Protocol to assess projects following completion to evaluate and improve consistency of outcomes with policy intentions.
- Align environmental management approaches and implement training and education activities.
Community members are active partners in the stewardship of Issaquah's environment - (ES2)
- Enhance environmental programs and partnerships to strengthen community knowledge and support widespread adoption of environmental stewardship activities by the community.
- Implement an outreach strategy to reach new residents and businesses in Issaquah.
- Increase meaningful volunteer opportunities to enhance natural areas in Issaquah.
The City has acquired strategic lands for park, trail, open space, critical areas, and natural resource protection to maximize community benefits - (ES3)
- Complete park, streamside, forest, floodplain and critical area studies to provide a comprehensive view of land acquisition goals and needs city-wide.
- Establish a dedicated funding source for priority land acquisitions and access improvements.
- Prioritize and proactively pursue strategic acquisitions that add inventory to fill missing links for park, trail, open space, critical areas, and natural resource protection.