The Pacific Northwest

The population of the Pacific Northwest bioregion is more than 15 million and growing. During the 1990s, the Northwest's population growth increased nearly twice the North American rate, and 50% faster than the global population. Between 1998 and 2000 Washington state will see a net gain of one person every five minutes, leading to an increase of more than a million people in the next ten years, and the state's total population may well double by the middle of the 21st century.

The Northwest is one of the most ecologically intact parts of the industrial world, and its inhabitants, old and new, are very conscious of the need to take steps to preserve the quality of life here. Already, noticeable symptoms are rising housing costs and traffic congestion. The interchange between I-5 and I-90 in Seattle was recently ranked the second worst in the country, and Vancouver, B.C. is badly in need of an update to its rickety Lions Gate Bridge. Apparently, one of the reasons the Seattle Times switched from afternoon to morning publication, is that delivery trucks were losing their battle with the traffic - better to move the paper while most people are in bed.

Population density varies widely throughout the Northwest. More than 60% of north westerners live within 60 miles of Interstate 5 and its equivalent Canadian Route 99. From Portland, Oregon to Vancouver, B.C., there have been dramatic population increases along this corridor. Inland areas around Boise in Idaho, Missoula in Montana, and Kelowna in B.C. have also seen high growth rates.

Contrast Idaho's and Montana's wide open spaces with the fast-growing Puget Sound. The Northwest also offers remoteness for those who want it. Idaho is viewed favorably by organized communities of "survivalists", who are concerned about traffic, smog, urban crime, nuclear war, government control, Y2K and like issues. The hills above Kamiah in north central Idaho are considered by the Doves of the Valley and Almost Heaven communities to be the safest place in the United States. A good distance from metropolitan centers, they offer tillable land, edible wildlife, plentiful water resources, and no nearby military installations.

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