Event celebrates the anniversary of the Clean Water Act and new funding for Puget Sound

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It could have been mistaken for a foggy morning along the waterfront, but the occasional coughs and burning eyes among the crowd of 60 or so people gathered here last Wednesday told a different story. Like much of the Northwest, Tacoma was shrouded in a haze of smoke from a spate of forest fires giving it and its neighbor Seattle the dubious distinction of having some of the worst air quality in the world, topping places like Delhi and Beijing. A group of policymakers, tribal leaders and elected officials were […]

New paper describes PSI’s support of ecosystem-based management

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Right now, researchers across Puget Sound are carefully measuring the salinity and temperature of the water, searching for harmful algal blooms and studying the feeding patterns of endangered orcas. They are testing the effects of ocean acidification, counting rockfish and checking the health of our declining kelp forests. Their scope includes salmon genetics and invasive crabs, the flow of rivers and streams. They study thousands of different species and thousands of miles of winding shoreline across a region the size of a small state. Within this region are two pristine national […]

Puget Sound fish and wildlife populations fall short of 10-year recovery goals

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A final report on the 2020 ecosystem-recovery goals for Puget Sound outlines habitat improvements for some streams, shorelines and wetlands, but it also describes ongoing declines among fish and wildlife populations that use those habitats. The latest State of the Sound report, released this week by the Puget Sound Partnership, summarizes the status of 52 individual ecosystem indicators used to measure the health of Puget Sound. While 11 indicators point in a positive direction, suggesting that conditions are getting better for Puget Sound, 22 indicators tell us that things are […]

Puget Sound meets 2020 bulkhead-removal goal; new indicators will chart the future

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In a turnabout that offers hope for Puget Sound’s nearshore ecosystem, old bulkheads are now being removed faster than new bulkheads are being constructed, according to permit figures provided by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. In fact, officials with Puget Sound Partnership recently announced that the agency’s 2020 goal for reducing shoreline armoring had been reached — just barely — by the end of last year. Specifically, the goal, or target, was to remove more bulkheads, seawalls and other armoring (measured in length) than what was added from […]

Puget Sound Partnership takes closer look at human well-being and environmental justice

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Amid the struggle to save salmon and orcas and restore the Puget Sound ecosystem comes a renewed effort to consider not only how humans affect the environment but how the environment affects the lives of humans. The Puget Sound Partnership, which is overseeing the recovery of Puget Sound, has been developing a series of strategies to acknowledge and enhance the cultural, economic and psychological values that can come from a healthy natural environment. These new strategies, along with related actions, are to be incorporated into the 2022-26 Puget Sound Action […]

Low-interest loans could help shoreline property owners finance improvements

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As ongoing research confirms the importance of shoreline habitat throughout Puget Sound, experts are looking for new ways to help shoreline property owners pay for bulkhead removals. One emerging idea, which could be established as a formal initiative within a year, consists of a special shoreline loan program that could provide low-interest loans to residential property owners. The owners could then make payments over decades with less strain on their family budgets. A soon-to-be-released report examines the possibilities of a state-sponsored revolving-fund loan program. This type of program would begin […]

Are summer low flows increasing in Puget Sound streams?

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Update: A pdf of slides from the presentation is now available. Adequate stream flows are critical to Puget Sound’s endangered salmon and are one of the state’s ‘Vital Sign’ indicators of ecosystem health. Earlier data suggests that summer stream flows have been on the decline, but new analysis shows that gauging these flows may be more complicated than previously thought. On Monday, March 15th, Puget Sound Institute senior research scientist Nick Georgiadis will discuss statistical models that show an apparent increase in summer stream flows over the past 20 years […]

Winding down Puget Sound’s 2020 targets, as approved shellfish acreage keeps going up

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In 2020, state health authorities upgraded six shellfish-growing areas in various parts of Puget Sound. Now, thanks to improved water quality, the harvest of clams and oysters can take place on these 309 acres for the first time in years, adding to an ongoing gain in harvestable acreage. While efforts to upgrade shellfish growing areas will continue into the future, these new results for 2020 represent the last time that state shellfish managers will be working toward a specific acreage goal set for the year 2020. Now, with 2020 in […]

New guidance for cleanup of toxics in Puget Sound

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An EPA-funded team of scientists and other experts has completed draft recommendations for the future cleanup of toxic chemicals in Puget Sound. The group’s Toxics in Fish Implementation Strategy addresses pollutants such as PCBs and a slew of emerging contaminants that can affect species throughout the waterway. The strategy will be available for public review until October 16th after which it may be revised and submitted to the Puget Sound Partnership’s Leadership Council for approval. The Washington State Department of Ecology is co-developing the strategy with the Department of Commerce […]

Safe hiking and other outdoors activities could improve mental health in pandemic

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Outside seems to be the answer, in more ways than one. Virologists tell us that, aside from isolation, we are less likely to be infected with COVID-19 if we go outdoors and stay away from crowds. Psychologists have known for decades that getting out in nature can improve our mental health, something that many of us need at this time. Taking a hike can be a great cure for cabin fever. But to maintain safety in a pandemic, we must be careful not rush out to the most popular locations […]

Puget Sound Leadership Council revises list of ‘Vital Sign’ indicators

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It was ten years ago this summer that the Puget Sound Partnership first established what it called Puget Sound’s ‘Vital Signs,’ 25 indicators of Puget Sound health ranging from levels of toxic chemicals in fish to the abundance of Chinook salmon and southern resident orcas. Those indicators have now been revised and expanded, setting off a new chapter for Puget Sound recovery efforts.  The Vital Signs and their indicators have been central to Puget Sound policy since their inception in 2010. They were designed to help scientists and policymakers measure […]

2020 NEP funding announcement

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This is a reprint of an article originally published by the EPA-funded Strategic Initiative Leads for Puget Sound. 2020 NEP Funding Announcement The Strategic Initiative Leads for Habitat, Stormwater and Shellfish are pleased to share the funding recommendations of the Strategic Initiative Advisory Teams (SIAT) and the Local Integrating Organizations (LIOs) for Federal Fiscal Year 2020 Puget Sound Geographic Funds. Puget Sound Geographic Funds (commonly known as National Estuary Program, or NEP, funds) are invested as a result of several concurrent and coordinated funding processes that brought together local and […]