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Our Water Ways

Puget Sound Institute senior writer Christopher Dunagan discusses the challenges of protecting Puget Sound and all things water-related. As the very first environmental reporter for the Kitsap Sun, he has been a respected voice in the region for more than 25 years. He has been covering science-related stories for the Puget Sound Institute since 2015.


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Repairs of bulkheads, docks and other structures now involve habitat assessment (1/14/2021) - In a major policy shift by federal authorities, waterfront maintenance and reconstruction projects are undergoing increased scrutiny — not only for their environmental impacts during and after construction but for effects that ripple through time. The change, imposed by NOAA Fisheries to protect threatened and endangered species, requires compensation for environmental damage calculated over the …
Hotly debated national permit for shellfish farms could be passed to Biden administration (12/31/2020) - Legal protections for marine shorelines, streams and wetlands could be revised just before President Trump leaves office, as the Army Corps of Engineers updates 52 “nationwide permits” that allow for a variety of water-related projects. Of particular interest in Washington state is a nationwide permit proposed for shellfish farms that would, purportedly, help to resolve …
New video focuses on salmon lifestyles in an ongoing series called “Tales of the Sound” (12/24/2020) - For newcomers to the Puget Sound region — or anyone who wishes to learn about salmon — check out the new video by my friend and former colleague Josh Farley of the Kitsap Sun. Like many print journalists who have expanded into multimedia, Josh became recognized for his quick-hit news reports. Especially popular was his …
Sunflower sea stars certified as ‘critically endangered’ by international organization (12/11/2020) - The magnificent sunflower sea stars, pushed to the edge of extinction by sea star wasting disease, have been declared a “critically endangered species” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. The listing, announced yesterday, is supported by new studies that show a 90-percent decline in the overall population of sunflower stars. The species (Pycnopodia …
Discovery of toxic chemical in tires spurs scientific and regulatory interest (12/4/2020) - The discovery of a mysterious chemical that kills coho salmon in urban streams is expected to spawn new research throughout the world while possibly inspiring new demands for protective regulations. The deadly chemical, associated with automobile tires, was identified by researchers at the University of Washington’s Center for Urban Waters, which is affiliated with the …
Young orca calves take part in fall excursions into South Puget Sound with their mothers (11/27/2020) - The two orca calves born to J pod in September are still alive and doing well, according to Mark Malleson of the Center for Whale Research, who spotted J pod on Monday near the Canadian city of Victoria. (Check out Mark’s encounter report.) This is good news, of course, for the highly endangered southern resident …
New online magazine focuses on the stories behind Puget Sound recovery efforts (11/13/2020) - “Making Waves,” a new online magazine from the Puget Sound Partnership, promises to bring us the stories behind the many efforts to protect and restore the Puget Sound ecosystem. The first issue of “Making Waves” — published this week — contains five stories. Jon Bridgman, communications manager, conceived of the magazine format and pushed the …
Copper is being phased out of brake pads to reduce harm to salmon, other creatures (11/6/2020) - Manufacturers of automobile parts are facing their first deadline for removing copper from brake pads. Most seem to be well prepared to meet the new requirements under Washington state law. In 2010, Washington was the first state in the nation to outlaw copper in brake pads, after scientists discovered that the metal can severely affect …
Puget Sound Restoration Fund meets 10-year, 100-acre goal for restoring native oyster beds (10/30/2020) - A heartfelt congratulations goes out to Betsy Peabody, her staff at Puget Sound Restoration Fund, and the dozens of partner organizations working to restore our native Olympia oyster to Puget Sound. PSRF recently fulfilled its ambitious 10-year goal of enhancing habitat for the petite, succulent oysters across 100 acres of Puget Sound tidelands, establishing a …
Controversy flares up over proposed policy revisions for state salmon hatcheries (10/23/2020) - UPDATE: NOV. 10, 2020 Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission is seeking comments on a slightly revised draft of a new Hatchery and Fishery Reform policy. For details, please read the news release issued yesterday. —- A state policy revision that could boost salmon production at fish hatcheries in Washington state has raised red flags among …