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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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Western Washington wildfire: What are we facing this year and beyond? (5/22/2020) - Trying to predict the likelihood that Western Washington will be scorched with severe forest fires this summer must be an overwhelming job for our region’s meteorologists. In the midst of a pandemic, fire managers and fire crews desperately would like to know what kinds of fire conditions they will face this year, not only in …
New steelhead strategy would include increased fishing and more hatcheries (5/15/2020) - 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 …
Young artists show creativity in a plea to reduce harmful trash in the ocean (5/7/2020) - Student artists from across the country are calling attention to the hazards of human trash that washes into the ocean, killing sea creatures large and small. Each year, hundreds of young artists submit colorful drawings and paintings in the annual Marine Debris Art Contest, sponsored by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Marine Debris Program. …
Washington has received big money from federal wetlands grants program (5/1/2020) - A little-known funding program to protect and restore coastal wetlands across the United States has been very, very good for Washington state. Over the past five years, Washington state has received $26.9 million to purchase and restore wetland properties as part of the National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grant Program. That’s a surprising 28 percent of …
Warm-water ‘blobs’ significantly diminish salmon, other fish populations, study says (4/25/2020) - It’s no secret that salmon and other Northwest fish populations are expected to shrink as a result of a warming Pacific Ocean. But a new study suggests that the resulting decline in commercial fishing by 2050 could be twice as great as previously estimated by climate scientists. The higher estimates of population declines were calculated …
Earth Day events go online because of virus (4/17/2020) - Canceled! Canceled! Canceled! Participants in this year’s Earth Day activities won’t be rallying in large groups, participating in environmental festivals or coming together to clean up the Earth. On the 50th anniversary of Earth Day — Wednesday of next week — the environmental movement will be uniquely digital, with many people celebrating from their home …
Salmon expeditions challenge old beliefs (4/9/2020) - Long-held assumptions about where salmon go during their years of swimming in the Pacific Ocean may need to be revised, according to Dick Beamish, a Canadian salmon researcher who helped organize two scientific expeditions into the Pacific Ocean. For example, sockeye salmon have been caught in nets farther south than conventional wisdom would suggest, Beamish …
Time to spare? Why not conduct some real online research to advance science (4/2/2020) - If you are looking for something constructive to do in this stay-at-home period of our lives, I might suggest joining a team of scientists conducting real online research. Zooniverse, a clearinghouse of about 100 active crowd-sourced science projects, has added educational materials for all age groups. Students learning at home can assist professional researchers as …
Sewer operators worry that toilet paper shortage will lead to more nasty clogs (3/19/2020) - With a multitude of people scrambling to buy toilet paper, and some going without, sewer utility officials across the country are worried about the possible repercussions of the TP shortage — such as clogged sewer lines. Toilet paper and wipes of all kinds have become the subject of a complex, wide-ranging and controversial debate. The …
Second Pacific salmon expedition gets a chance to see the effects of cooler water (3/11/2020) - A second research cruise to study the winter travels of salmon in the Pacific Ocean got underway today, when 12 scientists from three countries left Victoria, B.C., aboard the trawler Pacific Legacy. Researchers say they have learned a great deal from the first salmon cruise a year ago, when 21 scientists from five countries ventured …