2014 National Planning Excellence Awards: Grassroots Initiative

Ridges to River Open Space Network Vision Plan

Mid-Columbia Basin, Washington

Education and engagement are an important part of the Ridges to River Open Space Network plan and the Amon Creek Natural Preserve is a key place to get people outdoors.

Rapid and uncoordinated development was destroying the Mid-Columbia Basin region's open spaces. Embarking on a six-year effort, citizens of the region took action to protect the open spaces, trails and valuable habitats. The citizens not only recognized the need for a regional plan, but also worked to fund the effort through volunteer work and grants. The steering committee included representatives from seven major jurisdictions, 10 nonprofits, and the metropolitan planning organization. The result, Ridges to Rivers Open Space Network Vision Plan, is a plan that is the only region-wide document that promotes open space and trail connectivity as a regional economic driver with health benefits and improved quality of life for residents.

The plan makes it possible for two counties and four cities to speak the same language, share the same maps, and use the same technology to approach planning for the region. It includes recommendations for preserving and enhancing open space in the region. To date, 10 of the 26 open space and trail recommendations are in varying levels of implementation; and nine of the 24 general recommendations have been or are in the process of being implemented. As a result of the citizen work, comprehensive plans are being amended, hillside standards are being written and on-the-ground efforts are providing critical trial linkages.