Leadership Council to consider new State of the Sound report

The Puget Sound Partnership Leadership Council will review a draft of the latest State of the Sound report at its October 15th meeting in La Conner. It will also hear from the UW Climate Impacts Group about a new report commissioned by the EPA and the Puget Sound Institute analyzing future climate conditions in the Puget Sound Region.

View the media release from the Puget Sound Partnership.


Puget Sound Fact Book now available

PugetSoundFactbookCoverV3Have you ever wanted to know how much water is in Puget Sound? Or the weight of a giant Pacific octopus? What about the amount of salmon consumed by a typical killer whale, or more sobering facts about stormwater pollution or local climate change? A new reference guide provides key facts about the health and makeup of the Puget Sound ecosystem. Download a copy today.

Funding for this project was provided by the EPA and the Puget Sound Partnership.


Identifying ecosystem services in Puget Sound

Sunset over Puget Sound near Golden Gardens. photo by Wondelane.

Sunset over Puget Sound near Golden Gardens. photo by Wonderlane.

The ecosystem services concept has become the leading framework for understanding and communicating the human dimensions of environmental change. A new report commissioned by the Puget Sound Institute focuses on several of these ecosystem benefits, including economic, social and cultural services linked to Puget Sound recovery.

Read the full report on the Encyclopedia of Puget Sound.


An in-depth look at harbor porpoise in the Salish Sea

Harbor porpoise surfacing. Photo: Erin D'Agnese, WDFW

Harbor porpoise surfacing. Photo: Erin D’Agnese, WDFW

In the 1940s, harbor porpoise were among the most frequently sighted cetaceans in Puget Sound, but by the early 1970s they had all but disappeared from local waters. Their numbers have since increased, but they remain a Species of Concern in the state of Washington. A new in-depth species profile looks at the status of harbor porpoise in the Salish Sea, and brings together some of the most comprehensive information to-date about their regional ecology and behavior. The profile was prepared by Jacqlynn Zier and Joe Gaydos of the SeaDoc Society for inclusion in the Encyclopedia of Puget Sound.

Read the full report.


Salish Sea conference will feature GIS ‘speed talks’

Earlier this summer, UWT and PSI researchers studied how low-cost unmanned aerial systems (small UAS) might be used to monitor algal blooms in local lakes. Image courtesy: Kris Symer

One session talk will feature PSI’s use of low-cost unmanned aerial systems to monitor algal blooms in local lakes. Image courtesy: Kris Symer

PSI will co-sponsor a series of talks at the 2016 Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference related to geospatial technology and its impact on ecosystem recovery. The conference session will feature short, 5-minute oral presentations on a range of emerging topics and approaches within the GIS field. Abstracts for presentations are now being accepted at the conference website. Questions about the talks can be sent to session leader Kris Symer at ksymer (at) uw.edu. The conference will be held in Vancouver, British Columbia April 13-15, 2016. Continue reading


Congressmen announce ‘Save Our Sound’ bill

A new bill proposed by Representatives Denny Heck and Derek Kilmer seeks to bring Puget Sound recovery efforts on par with other waterways such as Chesapeake Bay and the Great Lakes. The congressmen say those ecosystems receive far more funding and greater federal standing, despite Puget Sound’s national importance as an estuary.

The bill, referred to as ‘Puget SOS’ (Promoting United Government Efforts To Save Our Sound), calls for recognition of Puget Sound as “a waterbody of national significance,” and would create a Puget Sound recovery office at the EPA. It would establish an interagency task force to “coordinate recovery efforts amongst Federal agencies and between Federal, State, local, and Tribal partners.”

Read a summary of the bill or download the full draft.


Report chronicles unusual year for marine waters in Puget Sound

Puget Sound marine waters 2014 overview report cover

Puget Sound marine waters 2014 overview report cover

The Puget Sound Marine Waters Overview for 2014 is now available. The report is part of an annual effort from NOAA and the Puget Sound Ecosystem Monitoring Program to synthesize marine conditions for the region. According to its authors, 2014 “was a year with notable departures from average.” In particular, the report provides details on the large scale mass of warm water that came to be known as “the blob,” and has stretched from Alaska and Puget Sound to as far south as Mexico. The report also looks at status and trends for a number of key species, including rhinoceros auklets, harbor porpoise and Pacific herring.

Read the full report at the Puget Sound Partnership’s website. 


In the news: Studying microplastics in Puget Sound

PSI Director Joel Baker

PSI Director Dr. Joel Baker

The publication Crosscut quotes PSI Director Joel Baker today in a story about microplastics in Puget Sound and the Pacific Ocean: 

“The Center for Urban Waters at the University of Washington has been surveying the amount of micro-plastics and types of plastic in Puget Sound for years. The center’s lead researcher Joel Baker says they’ve been asked to identify the impact of plastic on Puget Sound waters, compared to chemical loads, bacteria and other pathogens from storm and wastewater.

Baker says it’s an “urban myth that there’s more plastic than plankton in the (entire) ocean.” While it’s true in certain of the world’s waters, it is not true of the Puget Sound. Nothetheless, microplastics and plankton are the subject of a new study Baker just submitted to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, in collaboration with fellow UW researcher Miriam Doyle.”

Read the full article.


Puget Sound Recovery Caucus calls for greater agency cooperation

The audience at today's Puget Sound recovery Caucus. Photo by Jeff Rice.

The audience at today’s Puget Sound recovery Caucus. Photo by Jeff Rice.

Congressman Denny Heck had a stark message for participants in today’s meeting of the Puget Sound Recovery Caucus in Tacoma. The health of the Puget Sound ecosystem “is getting worse every year faster than it is improving,” he told the group, signaling a renewed urgency for the caucus that Heck started with Congressman Derek Kilmer in 2013.

The meeting was held at the Center for Urban Waters and was meant to build collaborations between tribes, agencies and other groups. The congressmen also outlined a series of goals for their proposed Puget Sound Coordinated Recovery Act, which they hope to release as a bill in the coming months.

That legislation would seek greater federal recognition for Puget Sound as a water body of national significance, increased coordination and accountability among federal agencies, and greater inclusion of the Native American Treaty Tribes in the ecosystem recovery process, according to the congressmen.

To start the meeting, Congressman Heck held up a photo of the late tribal leader Billy Frank as an inspiration for the group. “This man began his career of advocacy for treaty rights and civil rights by getting his head busted open and being arrested—count them— 59 times,” Heck said.  “And that was important, and I honor him for having done that. But I honor him as much for how he ended his career, which was to bring people together.”

Heck called for the groups to reach across “the wide chasms of our siloes.” Otherwise, he said, “we will be sitting in this room ten years from now and somebody, my successor or somebody else, will be saying to you we are still going backwards more per year than we are going forward. We have an obligation to that body of water to figure out how to work together. And that is what we are here to do.”

The congressmen are also seeking increased funding for the region, pointing out inequities in funding between Puget Sound and one of the the nation’s other large estuaries, Chesapeake Bay. “While Puget Sound by water volume is larger than the Chesapeake, overall the Chesapeake has received three times the amount of funding,” said Kilmer. Chesapeake Bay has received nearly double the funding per square mile since 2014, he said.


Future scenarios for climate change in Puget Sound

All scenarios project warming for the 21st century. Graph courtesy of the University of Washington Climate Impacts Group.

All scenarios project warming for the 21st century. Graph courtesy of the University of Washington Climate Impacts Group.

The University of Washington Climate Impacts Group has published a series of projections related to the effects of climate change in Puget Sound.

Among the group’s findings:

  • Many area streams will be too warm in summers for salmon by 2080, “despite rarely being in excess of these temperatures in the recent past.”
  • “About two-thirds of the glaciated area in the lower 48 states (174 out of 266 sq. miles) is in Washington. Although there are some exceptions, most Washington glaciers are in decline.”
  • Despite drought conditions in some cases, heavy rainfall events are expected to become more severe, increasing flood risk.

Read more in the Encyclopedia of Puget Sound. 

Support for this project was provided by the Puget Sound Partnership.