Lake Killarney Partnership: Ecological Planning with Roots in Science and Policy
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For thousands of years philosophers have been asking questions about how people interact with the natural world, how our ethical and moral beliefs guide our treatment or mistreatment of the environment, and how we choose to use or conserve the resources of the land. In the United States a boom or bust mentality initially drove the expansion, growth, and strength of the nation, and also a widespread acceptance of the exploitation of the land. Political progression throughout the 1900s which brought with it the birth of environmentalism, as well as significant advancements in the field of the ecological sciences were two of the driving forces that began to shift this paradigm. An emerging understanding of ecosystem sciences and a more ethical perspective on the environment largely contributed to the establishment of ecological planning and design as its own field of research and practice. Ecological planning is firmly grounded in the sciences as well as the ethical foundations of environmentalism. It promotes the idea that natural spaces have their own innate value beyond anthropocentric values, as well as providing ecosystem services that also benefit humans. By planning for human expansions in accordance with the flows of nature we can learn to develop in a more sustainable way. To unfold these topics this thesis is comprised of two parts. The first is a research paper that explores the history of ecological planning- where it began, how it evolved, what challenges it addresses, and where conversations in the field are today. The second part is a more specific ecological health assessment and management plan for Lake Killarney, a small lake in south King County, which has provided the opportunity to explore the guiding principles of ecological planning in a current setting. The conclusion is a discussion regarding the power of active community coalitions to bring positive change to the environment. Emotional connections to a place can bring people together and motivate them to engage both physically and mentally in projects in their community. Especially when there is a specific need for restoration, these groups can prompt ecological planning to take place and begin working toward an improved environment. Many successful restoration projects have been achieved in this way; and if community groups around the world followed suit we could see real improvement to the environment. Ecological planning helps to make this happen.