In 2003 and 2004, Natural Areas Program staff went through an extensive process with the public to identify those areas that qualified as local and regional, as well as community separators. A planning team of citizens and staff layered natural resource values, scenic view sheds, recreation opportunities, and other values to determine areas of conservation interest. These areas were reviewed in various forums culminating in a large open house at the Lincoln Center. Ultimately the conservation areas were included in the City’s “Land Conservation and Stewardship Master Plan” which was adopted by City Council in spring of 2004. This plan outlines how the City will spend its land conservation funding over the next ten years in approximately even amounts on regional, local, and community separators. During the planning process, citizens urged staff to maintain a flexible spending approach in order to be able to respond to emerging opportunities.
Major regional land conservation opportunities occurred in 2004. While by far the greatest amount of land conservation funds spent in 2004 were in the regional conservation area, funds spent on land conservation purchases to date are relatively evenly divided among the three conservation areas. Acres of land conserved in each of the three areas to date are not evenly divided and will never be evenly divided. In contrast to local and community separator areas, parcels of land in regional areas are larger and the costs per acre lower. Thus, the City will always have the ability to conserve larger parcels in the regional areas.