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

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 …

The current Vital Signs wheel. Image courtesy of the Puget Sound Partnership.

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

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 …

New steelhead strategy would include increased fishing and more hatcheries

Strategies to keep steelhead fishing alive while restoring steelhead populations to rivers in Puget Sound are spelled out in the “Quicksilver Portfolio” (PDF 2.3 mb), a document unveiled today before the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission. After three years of study, the Puget Sound Steelhead Advisory Group announced that it was ready to solicit public …

Orca report cover

Social scientists analyze public reactions to orca crisis

Social scientists at Oregon State University have been analyzing a trove of more than 17,000 public comments sent to the Washington state governor’s southern resident orca recovery task force. The researchers have added the comments to a keyword database to look at public emotions and perceptions around the issue of orca declines. The orca task …

Harvest managers setting this year’s salmon seasons struggle to find ways to help orcas

As state, tribal and federal salmon managers work together to establish this year’s fishing seasons, they have not forgotten about the needs of Puget Sound’s endangered killer whales. In fact, new documents related to the southern resident orcas describe an investigation looking to find ways to reduce fisheries at certain times and locations that might …

A path through the maze of resilience thinking

‘Resilience thinking’ has exploded in recent decades to become a sprawling discipline, complete with debates and inconsistencies, and literature to match. The idea that ecosystems should be made ‘resilient,’ or able to absorb disturbance and still bounce back, has gained traction in many policy circles, but there remains some disagreement about what the term means …

Report cover

Salish Sea toxics synthesis report

The Puget Sound Institute’s Andy James is the corresponding editor of a 2019 report on monitoring and research activities focused on toxic contaminants in the Salish Sea. The report  from the Puget Sound Ecosystem Monitoring Program covers a range of case studies including the occurrence of microplastics and pharmaceuticals in shellfish, PCBs in river otters and new findings …

Riparian buffers are strips of trees and shrubs along stream sides. They filter nutrients and chemicals, shade and protect the stream, and provide habitat for birds, insects and fish. Photo courtesy of USDA.

Do financial incentives motivate farmers to conserve land?

Occasionally, this space includes reports and essays from guest writers on the subject of Puget Sound ecosystem recovery. Today’s guest blog is from Mollie Chapman, who received funding from the Puget Sound Institute in 2013 to study how financial incentives influence decisions by farmers to conserve ecologically important land. By Mollie Chapman Would you undertake …

Southern resident killer whale breaching. Image courtesy of NOAA

Orca task force releases recommendations

By Jeff Rice The governor’s Southern Resident Orca Task Force released its final report and recommendations today, focusing on three key threats to Puget Sound’s endangered orcas: Lack of food, disturbance from noise and vessel traffic, and toxic contaminants. In all, the report makes 36 recommendations for recovering the fast-declining orca population, which now stands at …