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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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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) - A state policy revision that could boost salmon production at fish hatcheries in Washington state has raised red flags among scientists and environmental groups worried about potential damage to wild salmon runs. The proposed hatchery policy (PDF 264 kb), under review by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission, could derail a 20-year effort to implement …
Minor bridge modifications could help young steelhead escape from Hood Canal (10/16/2020) - Help could be on the way for migrating steelhead and salmon in Hood Canal, where many young fish are killed each year by seals and other predators that lie in wait at the Hood Canal floating bridge. As many as 50 percent of the steelhead migrants perish as they arrive at the bridge, where predators …
Do we know enough to do anything about all the seals and sea lions in Puget Sound? (10/1/2020) - Scientists have known for years that Chinook salmon are important to southern resident orcas, but Chinook are not the only fish the whales eat. At the moment, chum salmon are returning to Puget Sound, and recent orca sightings suggest that the whales may now be feeding on chum. Harbor seals also eat Chinook salmon, but …
Orca census: One death in January, but no births were reported until September (9/15/2020) - UPDATE, Oct. 6 The newest calf among the Southern Resident killer whales was officially designated J58 after being seen alive and healthy on Sunday. The calf is the offspring of J49, a 15-year-old female named Eclipse who has one surviving calf, J51 or Nova. Ken Balcomb of the Center for Whale Research had been withholding …
Western Washington avoids community-leveling conflagration — for now (9/8/2020) - Yesterday evening, high winds out of the east brought unwelcome smoke to the Puget Sound region. Living in the woods — which are very dry at this time — I became somewhat alarmed; I won’t deny it. This past spring, I wrote about the historic wildfires of Western Washington and the likelihood that climate change …
A look at future ocean conditions and how they could affect coastal communities (9/3/2020) - Scientists tell us that climate change is probably increasing the frequency of extreme events, such as hurricanes, droughts and wildfires. As time goes on, we might expect even more dramatic shifts in the ecosystem, as some species move to more suitable locations and others die out. The Pacific Fishery Management Council, which oversees fishing along …
Does the public have a right to walk across a private beach? The answer is still unresolved (8/21/2020) - Even before Washington became a state in 1889, Puget Sound beaches had been exploited as log dumps, farmed for shellfish, occupied as homesites and enjoyed for recreation. But today, after 131 years of statehood, residents of this region still don’t know if they have a legal right to walk across a privately owned beach at …
Art contests help to carry the clean-water message to people around Puget Sound (8/8/2020) - I’m impressed with artists who combine their passion for nature with a message about protecting the environment and how we all have a role to play. This week, I’d like to share winning artwork from two recent contests. One is a poster competition inspired by the “We are Puget Sound” (Water Ways) book and campaign. …
Safe hiking and other outdoors activities could improve mental health in pandemic (8/3/2020) - 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 …