Olmsted 2.0: Designing the Future of Public Lands in the Inland NW

“This is an opportunity to dream big, create an aspirational vision, and align our efforts to protect natural lands for the benefit of us all.”

The Inland Northwest Land Conservancy (INLC) is leading a region-wide collaborative effort to build on Spokane’s already strong commitment to parks, conservation, and outdoor recreation through a project called Olmsted 2.0. Olmsted 2.0 brings together city, county, nonprofit, business, and community stakeholders to plan for more public lands and public access.

The project gets its name from Olmsted Brothers Landscape Architects, the urban planning firm behind Spokane’s generous allotment of public parks, sports fields, and parkways at the turn of the 20th century.

General plan of park system courtesy of the Spokane Public Library.

While this name reinforces the project’s commitment to conserving land and public access in the face of rapid growth, it has an updated twist of connecting existing public lands and building connectivity into future strategic plans. The Olmsted brothers recognized that access to public lands is an important aspect of the public’s health and wellbeing. Olmsted 2.0 integrates scientific research into this historic vision by emphasizing the importance of connectivity for the vitality of local ecosystems. The project integrates contemporary practices in natural resource management, such as the importance of wildlife corridors in maintaining ecological processes and promoting genetic diversity.

Olmsted 2.0 also expands on the original vision by calling more community stakeholders to the table emphasizing the processes used to make decisions about the commons. That’s why one of their strategic priorities is convening the public—including, but not limited to: state and local agencies, land managers, business partners, real estate developers, civic organizations, advocacy groups, policy makers, and land and conservation alliances. They are committed to relying on collective knowledge, resources, passion, and expertise to inform the group’s strategy and shared goals.

“This is an opportunity to dream big, create an aspirational vision, and align our efforts to protect natural lands for the benefit of us all,” says Dave Shaub, executive director of the INLW. He urges members of the community to get involved. “In the coming year we will be inviting individuals, user groups, and organizations to provide input about how they interact with public conservation lands, which lands they would like to see protected, and how trails and other infrastructure can be developed to provide appropriate access to those places.

If you are interested in learning more or participating in these efforts, please contact the Community Conservation Program Manager at INLC, Todd Dunfield, at tdunfield@inlandnwland.org or 509 328-2939. //

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