A region can be a metropolitan area, a watershed, or defined by ecological or cultural factors. Regional planning is a tool for both conserving resources and managing growth. Regional planning models often do not align with traditional political boundaries. They are established at a scale large enough to effectively address issues of land use, infrastructure and economic development, but small enough to be responsive responsive to local needs. The regional planning approach can be applied to many large landscape types. However, the focus of most regional planning on growth management has meant that regional planning areas are more associated with urban or urbanizing areas.
Envision Utah – This plan developed in the mid 1990’s in response to the state’s rapid growth particularly in the Greater Wasatch Valley, which includes the ten counties around Salt Lake City. Envision Utah incorporates growth management principles into a value based, voluntary approach. Its strategies focused on smart transportation, natural resource conservation, and land use, but also included an educational element. Envision Utah is a nonprofit organization that offers assistance and information on a voluntary basis.
Portland Metropolitan Area – In 1978, the greater Portland region incorporated as a regional government with the goal of managing urban growth and protecting natural resources. Famous for the development of an urban growth boundary, the area became a pilot for innovative strategies in transportation, efficient and green land use, and other regulatory controls. The approach has been challenged by the adoption of a statewide property rights referendum, but still has made a major difference in the Columbia River watershed.