Planning and Development Services

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Planning and Development Services

Director: Dale Pernula


Envision modeling, developed by Oregon State University, is a GIS-based tool for scenario-based community and regional planning and environmental assessments. It combines special representations of a landscape, scenarios policies, landscape change models, and models of ecological, social, and economic services to simulate land use change and provide decision-makers, planner, and the public with information about resulting effects on landscapes.

To see Envision's rationale and approach, click here

The modeling for Envision Skagit 2060 is based on input from the steering and technical committees. It allows the Citizen Committee to change assumptions in order to evaluate their consequences, using "indicators." There are indicators for the human world or "built environment" (e.g., urban residential densities, value of development subject to flood risk), indicators for the natural environment (e.g., salmon populations, wildlife habitat), and indicators for farming and forestry (e.g., acres of designated farmland, average total timber harvest). See below for the list of indicators.

All scenarios are evaluated against all indicators. The Ecosystem Scenario, for example, has been evaluated against not just environmental indicators but also agricultural, forestry and other non-ecological indicators. Similarly, the Agriculture-Forestry Scenario has been evaluated against ecological and other non-resource-industry indicators.

Ultimately, the Citizen Committee will recommend a "Preferred Future," which will be modeled as its own scenario, to be evaluated against all indicators as well. In 2001-03, a similar process was used for an EPA-funded study of the Chico Creek basin on the Kitsap Peninsula. In the Chico study (which had a more strictly ecological focus), a citizen-developed "moderate scenario" performed nearly as well on ecological indicators as a more extreme "conservation scenario," while addressing many non-ecological concerns much better. There may be opportunities to optimize multiple indicators in the Skagit, too.

Preliminary Indicators

This is the list of indicators currently under development.

  Several proposed indicators have been dropped from this list due to challenges related to data and methodology.

  Shaded indicators are those that may not be included in the final model due to constraints including: lack of data availability, limits on OSU programming time, or lack of viable indicator methodology.

   Some shaded indicators may be incorporated into the model as decision rules (e.g. ag/forest conversion risk) or may be analyzed outside of Envision (such as public service fiscal impact).

 All final selected indicators will be used to evaluate each of the modeling scenarios, including the Preferred Future scenario.

1.       Urban/Rural Population Ratio

23.   Stressor Index for Nearshore Habitats - possibly fall, depending on Kitsap work and Skagit interest/ability to tailor to local circumstances

2.       Urban Residential Densities

24.   Carbon Sequestration - simple model for now, hopefully better model/data in fall

3.       Jobs/Housing Ratio

25.   Pollinator Abundance - not likely in this iteration

4.       Population Density

26.   Acres of designated Ag-NRL

5.       Infrastructure/Public Services Fiscal Impact to be addressed in ECONorthwest fiscal analysis outside the model.

27.   Acres Ag-NRL available for production

6.       Infrastructure Demand - same as #5.

28.   Loss/gain of Ag-NRL

7.       Traffic Congestion/ Level of Service (LOS) checking with Skagit Council of Governments.

29.   Number of residential development rights in Ag-NRL

8.       Value of Development Subject to Flood Risk

30.   Ave. Ag-NRL parcel size

9.       Commercial/Industrial Square Footage/ Capita

31.   Ag-NRL conversion risk likely a model input rather than indicator (indicator being Ag-NRL acres converted or at risk)

10.   Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) /Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GHG)

32.   Value of agricultural production much harder to model than timber production due to diversity of ag crops.

11.   Community Amenity Index to be addressed in project narrative

33.   Acres within dike/drainage system

12.   Urban Open Space will be input to UGA modeling.

34.   Provision of ecosystem services would require more sophisticated modeling of ag practices than currently able to do. Address in project narrative/ag econ study.

13.   Forest Cover

35.   Farmer density ratio working with ECONorthwest

14.   Wetland Cover (Non-Estuarine)

36.   Forest land base

15.   Chinook Salmon

37.   Available working forest lands

16.   Coho Salmon

38.   Production per forest site class

17.   Wildlife

39.   Site index (should not change across scenarios)

18.   Index of Change to High and Low Stream Flows

40.   Timber volume still waiting on DNR management data

19.   Amphibian Distribution

41.   Timber value

20.   Songbirds

42.   Forest products industry employment

21.   Waterbird/Shorebird Habitat Index

43.   Mill capacity projected timber volume related to current Skagit mill capacity; may be of questionable value due to likely changes in technology

22.   Pathogen/Water Quality Index not unless USGS calibrates SPARROW model for Puget Sound.

44.   Conversion risk more likely a model input than indicator; similar to #31)