Identifying the greatest threats to Puget Sound

Stressors with Very High or High Potential Impact in Puget Sound

Stressors with Very High or High Potential Impact in Puget Sound

It has been said that Puget Sound faces death by a thousand cuts. Scientists have identified thousands of different human-caused pressures on the ecosystem, from contaminants in stormwater to widespread declines in species and habitats. Given limited resources, how can managers and policymakers make informed decisions about where to focus their recovery efforts?

That was one of the questions behind the 2014 Puget Sound Pressures Assessment. The document, prepared in cooperation with the Puget Sound Science Panel, identified and ranked some of the greatest threats to the ecosystem, and will provide a blueprint for future recovery efforts. PSI’s Nick Georgiadis has written an easy-to-read summary of the assessment, now available on the Encyclopedia of Puget Sound.

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EPA announces new funding framework for Puget Sound

The Environmental Protection Agency announced today a new model for distributing National Estuary Program funds for Puget Sound recovery. The framework is effective in 2016 and is driven by the Puget Sound Action Agenda, while emphasizing habitats, shellfish and stormwater. Funds from the program totaled $117 million dollars from 2009-2015.

According to EPA, the framework will strengthen the role of the Puget Sound Partnership as “the Backbone Organization for [Puget Sound] Recovery,” and gives a greater voice to Puget Sound area tribes with more consideration of Treaty Rights at Risk in funding allocations.

Read a press release from the Puget Sound Partnership.

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In the news: Cleaning a lake with sludge

We’ve all heard of cleaning up environmental waste, but can waste be used to clean up the environment? A research team led by PSI’s Andy James is using waste product to remove phosphorus from stormwater entering Wapato Lake in south Tacoma. A group of students in collaboration with James and UWT professor Jim Gawell has been collecting “sludge” from wastewater treatment plants around the region with promising results. Read the full article from UWT News and Information.

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Could healthier, happier humans lead to a healthier Puget Sound?

Walking on the rocks along the Sound. Myrtle Edwards Park, Seattle, WA. Photo: cleverdame107 (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Walking on the rocks along the Sound. Myrtle Edwards Park, Seattle, WA. Photo: cleverdame107 (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

For the past two years, Puget Sound Institute Lead Social Scientist Kelly Biedenweg has been working with the Puget Sound Partnership to identify and recommend what are termed “human wellbeing indicators.” These indicators will be adopted by the agency as part of its Human Quality of Life Vital Sign, and Biedenweg, along with Kari Stiles of the Puget Sound Partnership, and Katharine Wellman of Northern Economics presented a final report to the Leadership Council last month.

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UW scientist studies how pharmaceuticals impact the environment

University of Washington scientist Edward Kolidziej

University of Washington scientist Edward Kolodziej

Dr. Ed Kolodziej is one of the newest collaborators with the Puget Sound Institute. Kolodziej began his appointment at the University of Washington Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering last fall, with a joint appointment at Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences at UW Tacoma. His research looks at some of the ways that organic compounds like steroids and other pharmaceuticals persist in the environment. Known as contaminants of emerging concern (CEC), these compounds are flushed into Puget Sound and other natural systems every day.​

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The watershed: winter bat recordings

BIG BROWN BAT (Eptesicus fuscus), IN FLIGHT AT NIGHT, ROGUE RIVER NATIONAL FOREST, OREGON

Big Brown Bat (Eptesicus fuscus). Photo: Angell Williams (CC BY 2.0) https://www.flickr.com/photos/53357045@N02/4973650026

Bats are thought of as warm weather creatures, but recent studies have shown that they can be active throughout the winter. Here in the Puget Sound region, bat echolocations have been recorded in temperatures in the low teens, and are commonly heard during more mild conditions. Continue reading

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Encyclopedia of Puget Sound topic editor Amy Snover recognized as White House Champion of Change

Encyclopedia of Puget Sound climate change topic editor Amy Snover has been honored as a White House Champion of Change for her work in climate change education and literacy. Snover is the Director of the University of Washington Climate Impacts Group and is Assistant Dean for Applied Research in the University of Washington’s College of the Environment. “Magic happens when we connect the analytic and predictive skills of science with the practical needs and multiple objectives of real-world decision-making,” Snover said in an announcement last week. “We create knowledge that is useful and used, and build essential societal capacity for tackling the challenges that face us.” Snover received her award at a White House ceremony on February 9th.

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Airport offers a glimpse at tightening stormwater regulations

Alaska Airlines 737 taking off from Sea-Tac Airport with Mt Rainier and Central Terminal in background. Photo: Port of Seattle by Don Wilson

Alaska Airlines 737 taking off from Sea-Tac Airport with Mt Rainier and Central Terminal in background. Photo: Port of Seattle by Don Wilson

How does one of the West’s busiest airports deal with extreme stormwater, and what does that mean for water quality standards in the rest of the state?

Read the latest article from Salish Sea Currents in the Encyclopedia of Puget Sound. 

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Identifying priority science for Puget Sound recovery

In December 2014, the Puget Sound Leadership Council adopted the 2014-2016 Biennial Science Work Plan, a document identifying decision-critical science for Puget Sound recovery. PSI Research Scientist Nick Georgiadis was lead author on the report in collaboration with the Puget Sound Partnership and its Science Panel. In the report, Georgiadis addresses the challenge of managing large scale ecosystems in the face of scientific uncertainty. Read an excerpt from a summary of the Biennial Science Work Plan below. Continue reading

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