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July 16th, 2010

Skagit County receives Governor’s 2010 Smart Communities award for County’s Urban Growth Area Open Space Plan

SKAGIT COUNTY – Skagit County was recently presented a Governor’s 2010 Smart Communities award for “Outstanding achievement in creating livable and vibrant communities.” The award was presented for Skagit County’s Countywide Urban Growth Area (UGA) Open Space Plan.

The Smart Communities award recognizes outstanding efforts of local communities and partners throughout the state who are creating quality communities by achieving GMA goals and other community-development objectives.

“As Washington recovers from this downturn in the economy, the work of local governments and their partners in creating vibrant, quality communities is vital,” said Governor Gregoire. “The leadership of these award winners helps to make Washington a great state in which to live and do business.”

Skagit County’s Countywide UGA Open Space Plan identifies and prioritizes open space corridors and greenbelts within and between UGAs in Skagit County, including lands useful for recreation, wildlife habitat, trails, and critical areas connection. The Plan does not create a regulatory land use designation or allow public access by default, but identifies specific areas within Skagit County that should be considered for a strictly voluntary open preservation program.

“Open space areas and their amenities can be protected and conserved for present enjoyment and future generations through actively-engaged community planning processes,” said Gary Christensen, Skagit County Planning and Development Services Director. “The Open Space Plan involved many partners and participants and the Governor’s recognition of this community planning process signifies its importance and accomplishment, not only for Skagitonians but as a model for others.”

“The Open Space Plan is a significant achievement that we hope creates a lasting legacy for our community,” said Skagit County Commissioner, Sharon Dillon. “It is our hope that the interactive citizen involvement process and opportunistic implementation strategies will serve as a model for other jurisdictions seeking to define, preserve, and enhance UGA open space corridors.”

Skagit County adopted the UGA Open Space Plan in 2009. The plan proposes that the county establish a bottom-up approach for allocating funds and that those funds be used to acquire and maintain UGA open space. Community groups, parks departments, non-profits, and private groups can compete for funding by proposing projects that meet program goals. The Board of County Commissioners will establish a UGA Open Space Advisory Committee to provide citizen advice regarding the use of any UGA open space funding.

For more information, contact Gary Christensen at A copy of the UGA Open Space plan is also available at