Farewell to John Cambalik!

Since the mid 2000s John Cambalik has been the coordinator for the Puget Sound Partnership’s local Strait Ecosystem Recovery Network. This group, meeting quarterly at the beautiful Red Cedar hall of the Jamestown S’Klallam (and on Zoom since the pandemic), has been the place where local governments, tribes, NGO’s and citizens could convene to discuss restoration projects and their funding needs. The results would be rolled up to the Puget Sound Partnership’s ongoing efforts to fund these activities both here and around the Sound.

John has done a great job of managing this very large (28 people at the last meeting) and diverse group of representatives. Some, given their governmental roles, cannot take stands on political issues, and others, like the Tribes have large financial stakes in the outcomes, given that they often manage the restoration projects. Much of John’s time has been in getting consensus on prioritization along with education of the participants on the issues.

While these meetings are often marathons of obscure but needed work, I want to take a minute to thank John for his great work at shepherding this group over the years. Kara Cardinal will be taking over John’s role. Her email is coordinator@straitern.org

John will still be around in the area, hopefully in happy retirement or tackling shorter term projects. Thanks for your all your hard work over the years John!

2022 Puget Sound Budget

The Puget Sound Partnership (PSP) has released an initial budget for Puget Sound Restoration projects in 2022. These are the prioritized projects in total that will get funding from the PSP. There are a number of projects underway or awaiting funding to address dozens of root causes of the shape of the Sound. Habitat restoration, removing culverts, restoring streams, toxic reductions, monitoring projects, hatchery enhancements, helping farmers better farm for sustainability, education to foster better decisions by the public, the list is huge. When critics discuss restoring Puget Sound, they often look at the issue from only one lens (i.e. hatchery funding, etc.). This budget is looking at the 360 degree view of all that is currently on the table for restoration projects.

Each year, the Puget Sound Partnership develops a prioritized list of state agency budget requests related to Puget Sound recovery. The Partnership shares this list with the Office of Financial Management, relevant legislative committee members and staff, and our partners. As the Governor and legislators release their respective budget proposals, the Partnership updates information about the Puget Sound Budget to reflect the most recent information.

To interact with this chart, go to https://psp.wa.gov/puget-sound-budget.php

EVENT: Science Panel to discuss Puget Sound Recovery issues Dec 16

If you are following the recovery efforts of the Puget Sound Partnership and care about what the next steps in the long running restoration of the Sound are going to be for 2022, this is likely one of the most important meetings of the year.

MEDIA CONTACT: Kevin Hyde, kevin.hyde@psp.wa.gov 

The Puget Sound Partnership Science Panel will meet on Thursday, December 16, from 9:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the December 16 Science Panel meeting will be a virtual Zoom meeting for all participants and the public.

Zoom instructions are included in the meeting agenda, which is available through our board meetings page: https://psp.wa.gov/board_meetings.php

Meeting highlights include:

  • A presentation for discussion about legislative and budget priorities for the 2022 Washington State legislative session. This session will include a presentation of the Partnership staff’s ranking of 2022 supplemental budget requests, Project Olga legislative recommendations, and input received from boards and advisory groups. Presentation by Don Gourlie, legislative policy director at the Puget Sound Partnership.
  • A presentation for discussion about the Washington State Academy of Sciences (WSAS) study on Net Ecological Gain. WSAS is advising the state legislature on a net ecological gain standard for state land use, development, and environmental laws to achieve a goal of better statewide performance on ecological health and endangered species recovery. Presentation by Ron Thom, member of the Washington State Academy of Sciences, staff scientist emeritus at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and senior science advisor for the Puget Sound Partnership. 
  • A presentation for discussion on cumulative effects evaluation and case study application to Puget Sound recovery. A cumulative effects evaluation is a tool to evaluate recovery progress and effectiveness by analyzing the cumulative benefits of recovery actions across large spatial and temporal scales. This presentation will include discussion of how the peer-reviewed methodology for a cumulative effects evaluation can be applied in Puget Sound. Presentation by Elene Trujillo, effectiveness monitoring analyst at the Puget Sound Partnership, Annelise Del Rio, monitoring performance analyst/salmon scientist at the Puget Sound Partnership, Ron Thom, staff scientist emeritus at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and senior science advisor for the Puget Sound Partnership, and Gary Johnson, retired research scientist, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.
  • A presentation and discussion about the Science Panel’s 2022 work plan and the shared priorities of the Partnership’s boards. This session will include discussion of existing topics and new topics for the Science Panel’s 2022 work plan and a review of the board’s 2021 priorities. Presentation by Jillian Reitz, boards policy advisor at the Puget Sound Partnership.
  • A presentation and discussion about identifying actions to include in the 2022-2026 Action Agenda. Partnership staff will update the Panel on the process to identify actions to include in the 2022-2026 Action Agenda update. Partnership staff will also invite the Panel to continue discussing its role in implementing this Action Agenda. Presentation by Dan Stonington, planning manager at the Puget Sound Partnership.
  • A presentation for discussion about the application of econometric cost models to fish passage barriers. This session will include an overview of a report on using econometric and machine learning methods to project the restoration costs for 27,000 barrier culverts documented in state inventories. Presentation by Braeden Van Deynze, postdoctoral research associate with the University of Washington’s School of Marine and Environmental Affairs, and Robby Fonner, economist at NOAA’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center. 

The full Science Panel agenda and meeting materials are available through our board meetings page at: https://psp.wa.gov/board_meetings.php.

If you need special accommodations to participate in this meeting, please notify Boards Policy Advisor Jillian Reitz at 360.742.2936.

About the Science Panel

The Science Panel’s expertise and advice are critical to the Puget Sound Partnership’s efforts to develop a comprehensive, science-based plan to restore Puget Sound. The members, appointed by the Leadership Council, are chosen from the top scientists in Washington State.

About the Puget Sound Partnership

The Puget Sound Partnership is the state agency formed to lead the region’s collective effort to restore and protect Puget Sound. Working with hundreds of government agencies, tribes, scientists, businesses, and nonprofits, the Partnership mobilizes partner action around a common agenda, advances Sound investments, and tracks progress to optimize recovery.

For more information, go to www.psp.wa.gov.

Governor Inslee appoints Kate Dean to the Puget Sound Partnership’s Leadership Council

Good news. Kate is an excellent choice. She has done a great job in her current roles, including chairing the regional ecosystem coordination board. She cares about the environment and the recovery of the Sound, having put in many hundreds of hours in the mandatory dull meetings prioritizing lists of environmental work and debating funding different projects. Having a voice from rural counties is badly needed. As a County Commissioner, she is deeply involved in issues that directly impact the Strait and the Hood Canal.

November 24, 2021

MEDIA CONTACT: Kevin Hyde, 360.819.3045, kevin.hyde@psp.wa.gov 
OLYMPIA — Governor Jay Inslee has appointed Kate Dean to the Puget Sound Partnership’s Leadership Council, the governing body of the Puget Sound Partnership. Dean is a Jefferson County Commissioner for District 1, Port Townsend, and has served on the Puget Sound Partnership’s Ecosystem Coordination Board, which advises the Puget Sound Partnership’s Leadership Council on carrying out its responsibilities.

“With her knowledge and passion, Kate will make great contributions to the Puget Sound Partnership’s work to achieve a healthy, resilient Puget Sound,” Gov. Jay Inslee said. “Her experience with local economic development issues, her understanding of rural communities, and her leadership as a Jefferson County Commissioner and member of the Partnership’s Ecosystem Coordination Board all make her an outstanding addition to the Leadership Council.”

“I am really excited about Kate Dean joining the Leadership Council,” said Jay Manning, chair of the Puget Sound Partnership’s Leadership Council. “She has already proven herself as an effective and passionate advocate for restoring Puget Sound to good health and she will make the Leadership Council a stronger voice for recovery. We just issued the 2021 State of the Sound report and it is clear that what we as a society are doing now to protect and restore Puget Sound is not enough. Kate, and her experience as a County Commissioner, will help us make the hard decisions we need to make to save Puget Sound.”Dean was elected to the Jefferson County Board of County Commissioners in 2017. She moved to Jefferson County in 1999 and spent 10 years farming and working to grow the local food economy through businesses she co-founded, including FinnRiver Farm and Mt. Townsend Creamery. Her experience as an entrepreneur is critical to her understanding of the local economy and community.

Dean left the farm but didn’t go far; she started a consulting business that had her working on natural resource and rural economic development issues locally and regionally. She coordinated the Jefferson Landworks Collaborative (a farmland preservation and enterprise development initiative), managed Washington State University Extension’s Small Farm Program, worked for Washington State Department of Labor and Industries, and was the regional director for the North Olympic Development Council, a council of governments tasked with community and economic development. Dean has served on the Ecosystem Coordination Board as the alternate for Rep. Steve Tharinger, representing the Strait of Juan de Fuca Action Area since 2017, and representing Puget Sound counties since early 2021. In 2019, Dean proposed the board form a land use subcommittee to work on identifying tools, policies, and funding mechanisms to support the participation of counties and cities in the protection and recovery of Puget Sound. Since then, she has co-chaired the land use subcommittee, which includes many of the local elected officials on the board and representatives from tribal, state, and federal governments. She also helped draft a protocol for the board to rotate meetings around the Puget Sound to co-host local forums.

The purpose of the local forums is to expand local decision-maker engagement with the Puget Sound recovery community and discuss local priorities.Dean holds her Master of Public Administration degree from the Evans School of Public Policy and Governance at the University of Washington. Her publications include USDA Farmland Changing Hands and Preparing for Climate Change on the North Olympic Peninsula. In her spare time, Dean can be found gardening, riding her bike, or in the mountains with her two teenagers.“It’s an honor to be appointed to such a committed group as the Leadership Council,” Dean said. “I’m pleased that the Partnership sees the value of having local government represented in this critical work. A healthy Puget Sound is essential to a rural county like mine and I look forward to working on a regional scale to protect and restore it.””I’m delighted that Kate is joining the Leadership Council,” said Laura Blackmore, executive director of the Puget Sound Partnership. “In her work as a Jefferson County Commissioner, Ecosystem Coordination Board member, and regular attendee at Puget Sound Day on the Hill, she has shown her commitment to Puget Sound recovery and her passion for connecting with partners. I know that she will help us advance our work toward a resilient Puget Sound.”Dean’s term on the Leadership Council runs through June 25, 2025. She fills the vacancy recently left by Stephanie Solien, who served on the council for seven years. Solien recently served as vice chair for the Leadership Council and was co-chair of the Southern Resident Orca Task Force. 

About the Leadership Council
The Leadership Council is the governing body of the Puget Sound Partnership. Its seven members are leading citizens chosen from around the Sound and appointed by the Governor to serve four-year terms. Jay Manning currently chairs the Leadership Council.

About the Puget Sound Partnership

The Puget Sound Partnership is the state agency formed to lead the region’s collective effort to restore and protect Puget Sound. Working with hundreds of government agencies, tribes, scientists, businesses, and nonprofits, the Partnership mobilizes partner action around a common agenda, advances Sound investments, and tracks progress to optimize recovery. For more information, go to www.psp.wa.gov.

Puget Sound Days on the Hill -Puget Sound Partnership

We’d like to remind you to register by 1:59 p.m. Pacific Time tomorrow, Thursday, May 6, for the third of this year’s virtual Puget Sound Days on the Hill sessions, which will be held on Friday, May 7, from 1:00–2:00 p.m. Pacific Time, hosted by the Puget Sound Partnership and the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission.

Please click here to register for the May 7 session. The confirmation email will provide the unique Zoom link for the session. 

At this session, we’ll discuss Puget Sound restoration and protection, salmon recovery efforts, climate change adaptation and mitigation, and infrastructure, among other topics, with Representative Dan Newhouse. We will also host a panel discussion, “What’s Happening in D.C.?,” with Morgan Wilson, director of Governor Inslee’s office in Washington, D.C., and Rich Innes of the Meridian Institute. Wilson and Innes will discuss the appropriations process and give an overview of potential upcoming legislation, such as the infrastructure package.

Representative Newhouse will speak for about 25 minutes, including a Q&A component, beginning at 1:30 p.m.

Advance registration is required.

We will send regular announcements with confirmed speakers for the week as well as a registration link for each event. You can also check https://www.psdoth.org for the latest information.

Week 3:

Friday, May 7, 1:00 – 2:00 p.m. Pacific Time

With Representative Dan Newhouse and panelists Morgan Wilson (Governor Inslee) and Rich Innes 

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

Puget Sound Partnership releases “State of the Sound” 2019

Let’s just let the Press Release speak for itself. Really, not good news after being chartered to solve this problem last decade. My comments are the highlighted bits.

December 2, 2019

MEDIA CONTACT: Jon Bridgman, 206.276.5309, jon.bridgman@psp.wa.gov

2019 State of the Sound Report issues a Call to Action for Puget Sound Recovery

The latest biennial State of the Sound Report, released this week, stresses that “…we can still recover Puget Sound, but only if we act boldly now.” This is the scientifically informed assessment of the Puget Sound Partnership, the state agency leading the region’s collective effort to restore and protect Puget Sound.

The Report is clear that Puget Sound remains in grave trouble. The damaging effects of pollution, habitat degradation and disturbance persist. Southern Resident orcas, Chinook salmon, steelhead, and many other species are listed under the Endangered Species Act. Human well being is also affected, for example, by reducing fishing opportunities and threatening human health. Climate change impacts and continued population growth stand to increase pressures on an ecosystem already in peril.

The Report highlights the gravity of our current situation, but also emphasizes the outstanding work of our partners in recovery that has resulted in improvements in the condition of Puget Sound. As the Partnership’s Executive Director, Laura Blackmore states, “while this situation at times seems impossibly bleak, the thousands of passionate people who are devoted to seeing the return of a healthy and resilient Puget Sound give us hope.” This hope is exemplified with three inspiring stories of local communities coming together to advance recovery. The stories address 1) a project to pull up unnecessary pavement by hand at a Tacoma school, 2) a volunteer led effort to locate salmon blocking culverts in Clallam County, and 3) successful collaboration between fish, farm and flood interests in Snohomish County. Together they make a strong statement about how human well being and Puget Sound health are inextricably connected, and mutually reinforcing.

Sufficient funding for the priorities described in the Action Agenda for Puget Sound remains the biggest barrier to recovery. However, the Report’s Call to Action outlines many activities that governments and a range of other partners can do now, without additional funding. The recommendations in the Call to Action highlight how each of us must play our part, to bring the day closer when our rivers once again run clean and teem with salmon, and our shellfish are safe to harvest throughout Puget Sound.

The Report provides the latest information on the condition of the ecosystem—the Puget Sound Vital Sign indicators, made possible by the work of dozens of monitoring programs around the region—as well as statements from the Partnership’s Leadership Council and Science Panel. The Vital Sign indicators show that progress has been reported for 10 of the 52 indicators; however, only 4 indicators are currently meeting their 2020 targets.

This year’s Report also offers an enhanced website with a greater depth of content and data tools. A downloadable version includes both content from the website and further information on funding, legislative and policy developments, and other Puget Sound recovery management updates.

About the State of the Sound

The biennial State of the Sound report is intended to help our partners and decision makers better understand: (1) how well the recovery effort is going, (2) ecosystem health and progress toward Puget Sound recovery goals, and (3) the role each partner can play in achieving Puget Sound recovery. It also responds specifically to state statute (RCW 90.71.370(3)). This report reflects the work accomplished by hundreds of groups throughout the Puget Sound region, including governments, tribes, nonprofits, communities, scientists, and businesses. See www.stateofthesound.wa.gov.

About the Puget Sound Partnership

The Puget Sound Partnership is the state agency leading the region’s collective effort to restore and protect Puget Sound. The Puget Sound Partnership brings together hundreds of partners to mobilize partner action around a common agenda (Action Agenda for Puget Sound), advance sound investments, and advance priority actions by supporting partners. For more information see www.psp.wa.gov.

Bill Ruckelshaus Dies

One of the the legends of the Northwest environmental movement, William Ruckelshaus, died Wednesday at his home in Seattle, at the age of 87. He was not only the first head of the EPA ( as a Republican) but also guided the Puget Sound Partnership and many other environmental efforts both here and around the country. He was considered a visionary in environmental issues by many in this area.

Beyond his incredible early years in the Nixon and Reagan administrations, as the first and fifth administrator of the EPA,  in 2005 he was appointed by Governor Gregoire to co-chair the Puget Sound Partnership to organize the cleanup of Puget Sound. This effort is still struggling to succeed, though the date that they assigned to achieve it is only a few years away. It has been a noble goal, but one that has been plagued with a variety of mismanagement, unrealistic timelines, a lack of appropriate funding for public education on the issues, and endless bureaucratic meetings that have not accomplished a great deal by the very measures that the Partnership has put in place. The Partnership has acted more as a monitoring, prioritization and a channel to hand out funds to groups working on restoration, rather than championing laws that could more quickly produce results. The continued collapse of Chinook and resident orca whales has been an example of the ongoing controversy in recovery efforts. None of this is because of Bill, but reflects the problems with achieving the vision that he created and his low key efforts to placate all sides.

Ruckelshaus’ legacy is well documented in a variety of obituaries, which I list below. What I could sum up as someone who has been involved in the environmental movement for many years, is that everyone respected Bill Ruckleshaus, no matter which side of the issue you may have been on.

I interviewed him for an epilogue to my film, “Voices of the Strait”, the first film funded by the Puget Sound Partnership, in 2010. He was gracious and intelligent. My interview with him starts at 15:52 on the video found here. https://vimeo.com/20621992

We will miss his guidance in working out solutions between factions of polluters and protectors of the Salish Sea. Those of us who are firm in wanting to protect  the vanishing habitat of our wildlife, need someone like Bill who can sit in the endless meetings with the opposition and craft something of value.  As a moderate Republican in favor of supporting environmental protection, he was the last of a breed.

One of the better quick reads on Ruckelshaus.



NY Times version. More balanced on his achievements and some of the controversies surrounding his various stages of life.

A version that minimizes his work here in the Puget Sound.






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 http://www.eartheconomics.org.

The entire talk can be downloaded or listened to at:

2013 State of the Sound

2013 PSP Indicators

The Puget Sound Partnership has released it’s “2013 State of the Sound” report. The whole report can be found here. The chart shown here is on Page 70. Obviously, when you cut to just the indicators, things are not doing well.


Yes, that’s a real URL .

I’ll just net this out for you. Some summary data from the report. By the way, the 2012 report appears to no longer be available on their web site.. It would be nice to have the comparison information.



Shhh…Puget Sound Partnership’s Leadership At Work – Salish Sea Communications

Mike Sato hits it right on the head. It’s time for Govenor Inslee to show us what this bureaucracy is doing, and if he’s really behind it or not. Getting it a leader that can actually lead would be a great start. No one would likely cry for it if they kill it and reconstitute it anew. It’s become a behind the scenes player in Olympia and virtually unknown outside of the Capital. A real shame, frankly. We had high hopes for it, but environmentalism appears to be joke and a pawn in the power politics in Olympia. Use it to garner votes, then ignore it for 2 to 4 years. Maybe when we are down to one Orca they’ll actually get serious.


Tony Wright to leave the Puget Sound Partnership

In a letter to his partners, Tony Wright, the Executive Director of the Puget Sound Partnership, announced his resignation and intent to leave in the near future. He is staying until a new ED is found.

This is quite shocking news. Mr. Wright only took the helm of the Partnership last summer, after the resignation of Gerry O”Keefe, who himself had not been in the ED role for very long.

In meeting with members of the Marine Resource Committees at their annual conference last winter, Mr. Wright was all a bundle of fire, an excellent motivational speaker. He left the distinct taste that this was a man who was going to get things done. About the only thing he appears to have done, is reorganized the Partnership.

It is easy to assume that this is very bad news for the Partnership, and that Governor Inslee has been behind this latest change.  Mr. Wright had the experience and background to help coordinate big, government based projects, having come from the Army Corp of Engineers. –UPDATE AS OF 1/21/2013- In a letter to “Partners” which is published elsewhere on this blog, it’s made clear to the public that Tony’s short term nature was known all along to the insiders, and that, in order to not seem like a lame duck from day one, he kept it closely guarded. While it is understandable, it doesn’t stop those of us looking for direction and guidance from the Partnership wanting to see some longer term stability than 6 months. It’s still unexplained as to why a change needed to happen to bring in Tony in the first place, as it was not made clear as to why Gerry had to leave. Couldn’t he have been kept on six more months? To those on the outside looking in, it just seems like churn. 

It gives some possible clarity as to  why Billie Frank Jr. in an interview in the Seattle Times on January 17th, was quoted as saying, “

“The state of Washington, all they know is process,” Frank said. “It’s ‘we gotta have a blue-ribbon panel, another meeting.’ You get processed out. God almighty, you never see anything coming back. What the hell?

“The directors retire and move away to Arizona and Florida and play golf, and they haven’t done a … thing for the natural resources.”


UPDATE AS OF 1/21/2013 – While I have no idea if Billie was referring to Tony’s leaving, the timing of the article and statement seemed very suspect. It hits awfully close to the issue at hand. 

As to Mr. Wright’s saying that he is ‘returning to his company”.  A standard procedure of exiting EDs is to jump to a consultancy, until the next major opportunity comes along.

UPDATE AS OF 1/21/2013 – Apparently this may have been misinterpreted by some readers. This was not meant as anything more than an explanation that this kind of behavior is very normal. I would not be surprised if Tony is in another ED role (or higher as Obama has a lot of roles to fill in the environmental world) by the end of the year. 

We wish Mr. Wright well, but can’t help but wonder whether the Partnership is as “on the right path” as Mr. Wright claims. David Dicks got the Partnership up and running quickly, but left under a cloud. Gerry O’Keefe had just seemed to get his feet under him when he left, with no real explanation from the Governor. Now Mr. Wright exits. Having been in a large bureaucratic for profit company for many years, this kind of reorganization and executive churn  is rarely good for staff morale.  It often leads to even less getting done than usual.

UPDATE AS OF 1/21/2013 – Some readers seem to have taken issue with this statement. Bureaucracies by their nature are slow moving. Nothing exceptional about the PSP in that regard.  While the staff of any agency can get along and keep moving it forward without an Executive,  the lack of leadership at the top often stifles new initiatives, and decision-making.  New leadership that comes in takes time to figure out the organization and it’s issues, as well as it’s external partners and customers.  Often that takes 6 to 12 months to happen. Re-organizing isn’t an end in itself, but a means to one.  I’ve seen bureaucracies that do it sometimes twice a year, with little to show for the effort, which takes time away from staff doing the work that makes a difference. We hope that the next leader of the PSP will be as dynamic and able to launch new efforts as Tony was. 

And so, we, who are out in the watersheds doing the work, whether educational, protecting habitat, helping write rules for the counties, enforcing those rules, or otherwise ‘getting dirty’ and sometimes volunteering hundreds of hours a year  without pay, will continue to do that, as we have been, while the Partnership leadership comes and goes, and has to relearn who we are and what we are doing. We hope that the Partnership, under Governor Inslee, finally gets itself on a firm footing, and pitches in, in a larger way, to help.

Puget Sound Partnership honors six West Sound Champions

Congratulations to Chris Dunagan, a reporter that has spent decades covering the issues of the Sound.

Today the Puget Sound Partnership honored six “Puget Sound Champions” from the North Central/West Sound Action Area during a ceremony in Bremerton. These individuals and organizations were recognized for their exceptional work protecting and restoring habitat, cleaning up polluted water, and engaging the community in implementing the Action Agenda – the Partnership’s regional plan to clean up Puget Sound.

Read the rest of the story at


Gregoire announces 280 additional acres of Hood Canal now open for shellfish harvest – Bremerton Patriot

Little by little, with enforcement of septic tank inspection and upgrade, and adding of wastewater treatment, we are getting back our shores to where they need to be. A little good news…

Gov. Chris Gregoire today announced that an additional 280 acres of Hood Canal shellfish beds in Mason County have been upgraded by the state Department of Health from “prohibited” to ”approved” for commercial harvest. With this upgrade, the region is 51 percent of the way toward reaching the goal to reopen 7,000 acres of shellfish beds between 2007 and 2020, a vision outlined in the Puget Sound Partnership’s Action Agenda.</blockquote

Read the rest of the story at

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