In early January, Congress passed a funding bill that includes $33 million for the Puget Sound Geographic Program to provide the funds for the Puget Sound Action Agenda, a long-term plan for Puget Sound recovery developed by the Puget Sound Partnership.
“We know what we need to do to recover Puget Sound, our salmon, and our endangered orcas,” Laura Blackmore, executive director of the Puget Sound Partnership, said in a press release. “This very welcome funding increase will help accelerate action on the ground to protect and restore this very special place.”
The Puget Sound Partnership is a state agency formed to address the recovery and protection of the Puget Sound. The Partnership is a coalition of state agencies, tribal governments, businesses, and scientists working toward the common goal of Puget Sound restoration.
“We are excited to learn of the increase in federal funding for Puget Sound restoration,” said Bill Dewey, director of public affairs for Taylor Shellfish Farms and one of the business representatives on the Puget Sound Partnership’s Ecosystem Coordination Board. “The support from Congress has been instrumental in achieving water quality upgrades in shellfish growing areas all around the Sound.”
The 2020 budget includes $5 million of additional funding compared to last year’s budget for a total of $33 million that will pay for projects focused on the three Strategic Initiatives for Puget Sound preservation, which are stormwater management, habitat restoration, and shellfish management. Additional projects will improve water quality, enhance fish passage, increase salmon habitat, and protect shorelines.
“Many of Washington’s communities were built on our trademark salmon runs. Unfortunately, we’re seeing salmon runs decline, which is hurting our culture, our economy, and our iconic orcas,” said Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz, the director of the Washington State Department of Natural Resources.
“I’m heartened to see increased federal investments in Puget Sound, and thankful that our state has such strong congressional leadership fighting on its behalf.”
Besides the funding for the Puget Sound Geographic Program, Congress has approved $35.5 million in 2020 for the Pacific Salmon Treaty, an increase of $15.5 million from the previous year.
The Pacific Salmon Treaty is an agreement between the U.S. and Canada for the purposes of safeguarding the long-term conservation of Pacific salmon. In addition, $1.47 million was designated for the design phase of the restoration of the Lower Duckabush River and estuary, a project that will result in restored estuarine habitat for summer chum and Chinook salmon.