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.

NEWS RELEASE
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.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/obituaries/william-d-ruckelshaus-who-refused-to-join-in-nixons-saturday-night-massacre-dies-at-87/2019/11/27/e089e474-113a-11ea-bf62-eadd5d11f559_story.html

https://www.politico.com/news/2019/11/27/william-ruckelshaus-first-epa-chief-dies-at-87-074237

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.

https://www.seattletimes.com/nation-world/william-ruckelshaus-who-refused-to-join-in-nixons-saturday-night-massacre-dies-at-87/

 

 

 

 

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.*

http://salishseacommunications.blogspot.com/2017/11/throwing-in-towel-on-puget-sounds-2020.html

 

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?

http://salishseacommunications.blogspot.com/2017/11/hello-puget-sound-partnership.html

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)

http://www.peninsuladailynews.com/article/20160201/NEWS/302019992/sequim-scientists-work-to-restore-eelgrass-in-puget-sound

2016-17 PUGET SOUND ACTION AGENDA STRATEGY WORK AVAILABLE FOR PUBLIC COMMENT THROUGH JULY 10

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.

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