Forests and Wetlands

During the past 150 years, Puget Sound lost at least two-thirds of its remaining old growth forest, more than 90% of its native prairies, and 80% of its marshes. With an estimated 1.5 million additional residents expected in the Puget Sound area by 2050, the need for housing and commercial development and the network of infrastructure (roads and utilities) to serve such development must be balanced with protection of the important functions provided by forested and riparian areas as well as agricultural lands.

This Vital Sign tells us about the extent and condition of terrestrial habitats important to freshwater quality and the overall health of Puget Sound.

VITAL SIGN INDICATOR INDICATOR PROGRESS TARGET STATUS
VITAL SIGN INDICATOR INDICATOR PROGRESS TARGET STATUS

Key Vital Sign Messages

  • A collaboration of federal, state, and local governments, tribes, local recovery groups, nonprofits, and the private sector worked together to develop an Implementation Strategy of the best approaches to achieve recovery targets for Puget Sound land development and cover.
  • In Puget Sound, forest cover is declining, but the rate of that loss has slowed. Over the 2011-2016 time period, the rate of forest cover loss to development decreased below the 2020 recovery target to not exceed 1,000 acres per year.
  • Central urban centers such as Seattle, Bellevue and Tacoma are experiencing rapid growth. According to the Department of Commerce, as of 2017, less than 10% of growth in the Puget Sound region occurred in rural areas over the past few years. However, as growth continues to increase, there are indications of growing development pressure in rural areas close to urban growth boundaries.

Other Resources

Contributing Partners