Throwing In the Towel on Puget Sound’s 2020 Goal – Kathy Fletcher

We knew that it was an unattainable goal when Governor Gregoire said it. Now it’s just another marketing campaign slogan, like so many before it, tossed aside for….what? Just what is the goal and how are we going to achieve it?

The Puget Sound Partnership has now officially thrown in the towel on the goal of restoring Puget Sound to health by the year 2020. From press accounts of this latest report, one might have concluded that the 2020 goal was set only 10 years ago, when the current version of the Partnership was established. Actually, the goal was set more than 30 years ago by Washington State, in 1985 legislation that created the Puget Sound Water Quality Authority.*


Hello? Puget Sound Partnership? – Guest Blog on Salish Sea Communications

I think Pete speaks for many of us, very frustrated at the endless planning and prioritization sessions that the Partnership foists on us. In the end, we need more money on the ground, being spent on a wide range of projects and education of the population.

Hello?  Puget Sound Partnership?  Do you suppose you could take a little break from meetings and planning and strategizing and round up some ammunition to send my way?

Sequim scientists work to restore eelgrass in Puget Sound – PDN

Many of us on the Peninsula are helping to protect and better understand eel grass. In Port Townsend, the local Marine Resources Committee (of which I currently am chair) has been managing the Eelgrass Protection Buoys, helping boaters understand the right spot to anchor to protect the remaining eel grass, which is home to all sorts of underwater life. There’s a lot left to know about restoring it.

Local scientists are lending their expertise to offset the global decline of seagrass by studying and restoring eelgrass throughout Puget Sound. To help address this decline, scientists at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory’s Marine Sciences Lab in Sequim are working with the state on restoring eelgrass throughout the Puget Sound…. Eelgrass is recognized by the Puget Sound Partnership as both critical habitat and a vital sign of Puget Sound because changes in its abundance or distribution reflect changes in environmental conditions. Alana Lineroth reports. (Peninsula Daily News)


The Puget Sound Partnership will soon be updating the Puget Sound Action Agenda, the plan that describes the priorities for actions that will help to recover Puget Sound. To lay the groundwork for the update, we are asking for the public’s input on the results of a series of meetings and discussions about the update.

In April, we convened three workgroups of independent experts and practitioners who volunteered to review and update three strategic initiatives that help to focus and hone the many possible actions that could take place through the Action Agenda. These three strategic initiatives address the most pressing environmental issues in Puget Sound:

  • Protecting and restoring habitat
  • Preventing pollution from stormwater
  • Recovering shellfish beds
The workgroups met several times in April and May, and staff from the Puget Sound Partnership facilitated the meetings and summarized the discussions and the resulting recommendations. These recommendations are now available online for public review and comment. Online public comments are accepted through July 10, 2015.

After the public has had an opportunity to comment, the recommendations will be presented to the Puget Sound Partnership Science Panel, Ecosystem Coordination Board, Salmon Recovery Council, and Leadership Council. Once the recommendations are reviewed and receive final approval from the Leadership Council, they will be used to develop the criteria for actions that can be begun or completed within the next two years.

Why it matters

This recommendation will also inform how Local Integrating Organizations (LIOs) – made up of local governments, tribes, nonprofits, citizens, business and a variety of interest groups — work together to plan for and propose Near Term Actions they hope to receive funding for in the 2016-17 biennium. The Near Term Action proposals need to be submitted to the Puget Sound Partnership for review by its Management Conference this coming December to be considered for inclusion in the 2016-17 Puget Sound Action Agenda.

What’s next

After the Leadership Council reviews and approves any changes to the scope of the three strategic initiatives, the process of selecting Near Term Actions that will be included in the 2016-17 Action Agenda can begin.

Additional comments or recommendations can be provided via in-person public testimony at the following meetings:

  • Science Panel, June 24, 2015, at Western Washington University, Viking Union 565, Bellingham
  • Ecosystem Recovery Board, July 8, 2015, at Edmonds City Hall, Brackett Room, 121 Fifth Ave. N., Edmonds
  • Leadership Council, July 29, 2015, at the Legislative Building, Columbia Room, 416 Sid Snyder Ave. S.W., Olympia.

The draft 2016-17 Action Agenda, including Near Term Actions, will be available for public comment in the spring of 2016.

Latest Puget Sound Partnership Straits Meeting

The quarterly meeting of local ecosystem recovery groups sponsored by the The Puget Sound Partnership (PSP) was held on Friday May 16th in Blyn. The PSP helps fund these  quarterly planning meetings with all the various groups that exist to protect and restore ecosystems, in order to disseminate information and to gather planning information for future funding efforts.  Our Strait of Juan de Fuca group is called the Strait ERN (for Ecosystem Recovery Network).

Some good news was that the extensive planning meetings that had helped us to identify and prioritize the vast array of projects (which can exist from something as large as the Elwha Dam removal to the restoration of one small locale, like the bulkhead removal at Fort Townsend), had shown that we had the largest list of projects from all the various ERN’s around the Sound.

These will be rolled back up to the planning efforts over the summer that the PSP is going to do in order to help seek funding in the next federal budget year, starting later this year.

Additionally, we heard information about sewage sludge, it’s collection and uses, including newly emerging concerns of it’s toxicity. A few short takeaways included that while King County routinely spreads it’s sludge on vast amounts of the forests above the East Side, where it is clearly leaching back into the water sheds and Puget Sound,  our two counties are composting it and reusing it. Compost with sludge in it is called “biosolids” and you should not be adding this compost to your family garden. It is more appropriate to flower gardens and other areas where you are unlikely to ingest it. Also, biosolid based compost cannot be used on organic food production.

Short term, we need more extensive testing to identify the vast array of chemicals that are not being treated in biosolids. The laws covering this were created decades ago, long before we were aware of the dangers of pass through drugs from our bodies. Better consumer knowledge is needed, and that is a federal and state issue.

Long term, it is likely we will need to incinerate our biosolids, in order to keep out the hazards of chemical contamination of our waters and food. Incineration is the only way to fully destroy these elements. It apparently reduces the waste stream to a very small amount, comparatively speaking.

It has been my contention that the continued dumping of our sewage into the Salish Sea is likely to be shown to be a root cause of the destruction of the waters, and this is another clear data point that this assumption is probably correct. The ability to incinerate our wastes, and remove storm water runoff would likely be a huge factor in restoring water quality.

Gov. Inslee names new executive director for Puget Sound Partnership

Long overdue. We hope she is as good an administrator and executive as the Governor believes. We wish her the best, and hope that she gets out of Tacoma and into the field quickly to meet the many varied people doing the grassroots work that the Partnership funds and supports. She apparently has only a local “East Side” knowledge of environmental issues, and no experience in the broader Puget Sound Basin issues, such as the relationships between state agencies, federal agencies, NGOs and Tribes. The problem of course, is establishing herself among those entities and learning the unique issues of collaborating to get things done. Her various predecessors seemed to rarely show up to meet us out here in the ‘hinterlands’. We had the feeling it was all decision-making from the top down. It’s seemed to have been a vacuum for a couple of years now with re-orgs with little to show for the internal churn.  So we have just tended to do what we had to, in order to work with them,and continue the heavy lifting locally. We’d love to see more leadership and better planning of things like timing of grants from them.


Today Gov. Jay Inslee announced his appointment of Sheida R. Sahandy as the new Executive Director for the Puget Sound Partnership, the agency formed by the state Legislature to lead the recovery of the Puget Sound. Sahandy has worked for the City of Bellevue since 2006, where she has served as the Assistant to City Manager. Her appointment is effective February 4.

“I am very excited that Sheida Sahandy will be leading this effort. She has a record of taking on complex challenges and moving the needle in the right direction,” said Gov. Jay Inslee. “From her years as a corporate attorney, to leading Bellevue’s rise as an innovator and leader in environmental and social responsibility, Sheida has demonstrated the ability to bring private and public interests together toward a common mission. She knows how to work successfully across sectors, across jurisdictions, and across diverse subject matter areas to achieve measurable results. She is the person we need at the helm of the Puget Sound Partnership.”

As the Partnership’s new Executive Director, the Governor is looking for Sahandy to focus the work of the Partnership on the most critical and effective projects, work with other state agencies and partners to maximize alignment of efforts, and increase public engagement in Puget Sound recovery.

“We need to ensure that people appreciate the truly critical role the Puget Sound plays in every aspect of our lives – economy, ecology, and why we call this area home,” said Inslee. “I want my grandkids and their grandkids to be able to play safely in the Puget Sound, to fish for salmon they can eat, to dig for clams and oysters they can cook over a campfire. To make that happen, we need to accelerate the work being done right now.”

Sahandy has led strategic initiatives for the City of Bellevue, and was responsible for creating the City’s first city-wide environmental stewardship initiative. “The Puget Sound is a national treasure and the Governor has made it clear that Puget Sound recovery is one of his top environmental priorities,” said Sahandy. “We are facing increasingly pressing issues, such as the viability of our shellfish industry, as well as the foundational goal of ensuring we create a sustainable environment in this state that is the bedrock of a sustainable economy – the need for action has never been more compelling or urgent.”

Sahandy earned her Master of Public Administration from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government where she concentrated her studies on climate, energy and environment. She earned a Juris Doctorate from Columbia University’s School of Law, and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of California at Berkeley, where she studied environmental design and the biological sciences.

And this from Martha Konigsgaard, the current Chair of the Leadership Council for the Partnership. Martha is likely to be a very good mentor for Ms. Sahandy. 

I am happy to share with you that Governor Inslee has appointed Sheida Sahandy as the Puget Sound Partnership’s new Executive Director. The search has been lengthy, but the results are a win for Puget Sound.

Sheida comes from the City of Bellevue, where she has been Assistant to the City Manager. During her time there, she has demonstrated her commitment to innovation and bringing private and public interests together. Sheida was responsible for creating the City of Bellevue’s first city-wide environmental stewardship initiative. She also created the City’s first suite of environmental indicators and targets, brought multiple organizations together to form the C-& New Energy Partnership, and spearheaded public-private partnerships that encourage environmental and corporate social responsibility. Sheida earned her Master of Public Administration from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government where she concentrated her studies on climate, energy and environment. She earned a Juris Doctorate from Columbia University’s School of Law, and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of California at Berkeley, where she studied environmental design and the biological sciences. In addition to her public experience, Sheida spent several years as a large-firm corporate attorney.

We’ve come a long way this past year. The state Legislature allocated a record $394 million to Puget Sound priorities. On the federal level, we have a new and energized Puget Sound Recovery Caucus ready to work for us in Washington, D.C. Locally our partners have come together to identify high-priority projects throughout the region. Puget Sound Acquisition and Restoration Fund dollars have helped move forward the state’s largest seawall removal and a 400-acre tidal marsh restoration project that is the largest of its kind in the state. Our State of the Sound report shows that we are making progress on indicators that respond quickly. And that’s just a taste.

The distance we have traveled along the path to Puget Sound recovery this past year speaks volumes about the talent, dedication and passion of the Puget Sound Partnership’s staff, Boards, Panels, Scientists and the hundreds of concerned and engaged citizen partners who want to make Puget Sound safe and healthy for the people who live here today, and the generations who will follow.

Creating a healthy Puget Sound is complex work. It’s about human health and quality of life. It’s about sustaining the populations of our native species. It’s about jobs and the economy. It’s about honoring our tribal treaty rights. The diversity of this essential mandate takes a special leader who can listen, analyze, and act in a way that brings people together and puts priorities into action.

Sheida’s talent for working across sectors and jurisdictions, her ability to balance the many competing needs of the region, and her desire to jump energetically into the work of the Partnership at this critical juncture to make a positive difference bode well for the region and the long term cause.   I believe Sheida is more than up to this task and intend on doing everything I can to help her be successful as I am sure you all will.

Thank you for the role you play in this effort. Please join me in welcoming Sheida to this important post as we continue the work to heal this remarkable place we call home.

Martha Kongsgaard

Chair, Leadership Council

Earth Economics – A new way of valuing ecosystems

David Batker of Earth Economics

David Batker of Earth Economics presents their analysis of Clallam County ecosystems.

The Quarterly meeting of the Strait Environmental Recovery Network (ERN) met on Friday in Port Angeles. The ERN is chartered by the Puget Sound Partnership to get organizations together to prioritize work on recovery projects along the Strait of Juan de Fuca. This month, we had David Batker, chief economist and Executive Director, of Earth Economics report on their work done for Clallam County. EE created a report called “Policy Implications of the Economic Benefits of Feeder Bluffs and 12 other Ecosystems” as part of the SMP. Sound boring? Think again…

EE has formed some new models to help understand the economic benefits of these ecosystems and their recovery. This is really revolutionary analysis. Constantly, opposition to environmental programs  rail about how fixing the environment is “too expensive” and “costs jobs”. This analysis turns that on it’s head. It makes it very hard to argue that it isn’t the *right thing* to fix the environment, from a purely economic perspective.

EE has done work around the world, and this is really ground breaking stuff. You can find more about them at

The entire talk can be downloaded or listened to at:

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