Washington

Urban to Wild: Puget Sound

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Urban to Wild: Puget Sound
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Mason Cummings, The Wilderness Society

Helping people get outdoors in the Seattle region

While Seattle and the Puget Sound region are known for abundant and beautiful parks and wildlands, some low-income communities face barriers to accessing or feeling comfortable in them, ranging from a lack of public transportation to policies that don’t adequately protect open space. This disparity is bad for residents’ physical and mental health.

We want to ensure everyone has an equal opportunity to experience, appreciate and advocate for the region’s parks, open space and public lands. By partnering with local organizations and elected officials, we’re addressing some of the biggest obstacles facing historically marginalized communities in the region.

Why this issue matters

Population growth and increasing scarcity of public lands go hand-in-hand in Washington. But all people, regardless of background, should be able to enjoy the benefits of Washington's parks and public lands.

Explosive popluation growth
Washington will gain 2 million more residents by 2040. This translates into more development and pressure on public lands.
Gaps in public transportation
On average, Puget Sound residents give public transportation a failing grade.
Underserved communities affected
According to Washington state, people from low-income or other underserved communities are getting outdoors less than the rest of the population.

The threat

As Washington sees explosive growth, many people are prevented from enjoying the benefits of parks and public lands, either due to increasing scarcity of protected spaces or lack of access to them.

Communities in and around Seattle are growing quickly, with about 50 new King County residents per day projected to move in over the next 10 years. All that development means low-income communities and people of color are increasingly cut off from parks, trails and open spaces. In communities that are dependent on public transportation, there may be no realistic way to enjoy the shared wildlands that are the region’s pride and joy.

We’re working on “Urban to Wild” projects that include protecting 65,000 acres of parks and open spaces in King County for the neighborhoods that need it most and supporting a shuttle service that provides transportation from downtown Seattle to hiking trails in the Issaquah Alps and North Bend area. Such initiatives help make our communities happier, healthier and more connected with nature.

What we're doing

  1. Supporting transportation options

    We partnered with King County to support a first-of-its-kind shuttle service called Trailhead Direct that provides transportation from downtown Seattle to more than 150 miles of hiking trails in the Issaquah Alps and North Bend area. The shuttle service helps people enjoy nature without needing a car of their own.

  2. Protecting dwindling open space

    We’re championing the Land Conservation Initiative to help protect 65,000 acres of parks and open spaces in King County while also ensuring they are safe and accessible for lower-income communities.

  3. Working with new partners

    We are building a new network of partners to help advocate for parks and open space issues across the region.

What you can do
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