Puget Sound Partnership proposing “Desired Outcomes” for ongoing ecosystem recovery – PSI

New from the Partnership, which is tasked with recovery of Puget Sound. Recovery is not going well. So they are tuning their goal setting. Probably a good thing. But reading the following from the article I worry about the words, “reduce the ongoing costs of recovery”. This comes across as another change of direction that is more worried about costs than results. But I hope I’m wrong.

The Partnership has been a mixed bag over the years. It has mainly been an organization helping large scale projects find the funding and political support they need, narrowing the group attending to what seems to be project managers and government officials. They have always lacked a serious budget to educate the population about the issues that need to change to fix the Sound. It has been underfunded to achieve the goals that it was created to solve. Many of its’ most useful pieces oddly are the monitoring it does to help identify baselines which illustrate it’s lack of progress. Certainly an agency like this is needed, but many of us wonder just how useful this particular version is to the people spending vast amounts of volunteer time attending it’s meetings. So many people have shown up with good intentions only to fade away because of what’s perceived as a lack of progress and inability to really help them achieve their goals. Could there be a better way to achieve the goals of Puget Sound Recovery? As someone who has attended many of their meetings and closely monitored their efforts since they day they were formed, I’m not being critical so much as asking the question, “when will we see real progress at saving the species at risk, and making the Sound more “swimmable, fishable and healthy?” When will we see real efforts at educating the public about this, rather than just assume that everyone is on board for making the hard choices to fix the Sound? The sad reality seems to have been that the deeper we dig into the science, the more monumental are the problems. A good case in point is the finding that road runoff may be a major contributor to the decline of salmon in the Sound. That is not an easy thing to fix quickly. . The declining populations of salmon won’t wait on a bunch of meetings to survive or not. When the Partnership set goals in 2007 to 2010, (and reset them and reset them) they were simple. Do we really need to take time to re-calibrate when the answers have been pretty clear from the beginning? Educate the public for buy in. Identify the projects needed, fund them, measure the results. Recalibrate. The goal should not be to reduce the cost of ongoing recovery. That may be impossible. We have spent hundreds of millions of dollars trying to reverse the decline. If we saw runs of salmon returning in ever increasing numbers, we would be cheering the Partnership on. But we aren’t seeing the fish after 13 years of concentrated efforts. In fact, a recent report I reported on just in the last month discussed that we are losing the battle. What is the Partnership going to do to solve that issue?

If planners can agree on these general directions, the next step will be to develop individual strategies to improve the ecosystem in ways that improve the efficiency and reduce the ongoing costs of recovery. The final step is to identify individual actions in line with the strategies.



Puget Sound Action Agenda, often referred to as Puget Sound Partnership’s blueprint for ecological recovery, continues to evolve. The next Action Agenda — scheduled to go into effect a year from now — will incorporate an expanded long-range vision for Puget Sound, complete with broad-based strategies, not just near-term actions. “Desired Outcomes,” the first major component of the next Action Agenda, will be unveiled…(Thursday) before the Ecosystem Coordination Board, the wide-ranging, 27-member committee that advises the Leadership Council in its recovery oversight and strategic planning. A live video of the discussion can been viewed online, as described in the meeting agenda. “Desired Outcomes are statements that describe what we intend to accomplish — the positive change we want to see in Puget Sound,” states a fact sheet describing the next Action Agenda update. The idea is that near-term actions proposed over four years should fit into a larger vision leading to “transformational change and bold progress toward Puget Sound recovery.” Chris Dunagan reports. (Puget Sound Institute)

Puget Sound Partnership proposing ‘Desired Outcomes’ for ongoing ecosystem recovery

3 Responses

  1. As someone who was also involved with the Puget Sound Partnership since its beginnings, and with assorted relevant committees even before that, I largely agree with your assessment. I have not been very involved in recent years, it was just too depressing to see so much money and energy being spent without the integrated big-picture focus and strategic perspective that were the reasons they were formed in the first place.

    I certainly hope that this reformulation of their Desired Outcomes reflects a real commitment to an ecosystem perspective, big-picture science that will address the roots of systemic problems and not just near term actions to address symptoms and independent parts of the problem.

    This statement on their Action Agenda Update web site (https://pspwa.app.box.com/s/d3bhfz68nor5jfqz3y97wdfhy365dhzc) offers me some hope:
    “Enable us to align the next four years of our collective work around high-impact, multi-benefit strategies and actions that lead to transformational change and bold progress toward Puget Sound recovery. “

    However, the way they list, on the same page, the desired outcomes in separate, different colored boxes divided up into separate sub-categories isn’t promising. I won’t get my hopes up too much until they show a real commitment to, and success with, using today’s technology to represent their actions, goals, and the ecosystem itself as a “system”, not just a collection of categories.

  2. I have also been to a few meetings of the PSP, but not near as many as you have. It was instructive to see who the participants were, how they defined their mission, and why PSP was doing what they were doing. Relying on the largesse of the government for the bulk of their funding the Partnership has to make nice with the EPA, Washington state, NOAA, various tribal governments, corporations, and other agencies. .I guess that’s why they feel that taking on the task of promoting, “the most efficient and effective ways to allocate future investments.” (taken from PSP website) is a key role. It sounds good, probably plays well with politicians that need to keep costs down to continue in office, but I would argue that we are in an environmental crisis (not unlike the current pandemic) and that good intentions and careful spending aren’t going to allow us to make much progress. How much have we collectively spent on development along an in Puget Sound over the past 100 years? Pinching pennies isn’t going to allow us to make much progress in restoring Puget Sound anytime soon.

  3. A Functioning Planetary life support system is not a Left or Right issue, but rather a Human Survival Issue.
    Capitalism unencumbered by the requirements of functioning planetary life support systems = mutually assured destruction. As surely as an all-out Nuke Puke! A very large portion, (50%+?), of our tax dollars directly or indirectly subsidizes this planetary carnage. Why must “We the People” tolerate this atrocity? To enrich the already so rich Pollution Profiteers to the point that they can buy Government with pocket change is morally and ethically indefensible.

    “War becomes perpetual when used as a rationale for peace,” Norman Solomon.
    “Peace becomes perpetual when used as a rationale for survival.” Yours truly.

    Only by addressing a holistic approach to the impending climate crisis can humanity hope to survive the Anthropocene era.”

    “The last great exploration on Earth is to survive on Earth.”
    Robert Swann

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