This week, Senators Patty Murray (D-WA), a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Maria Cantwell (D-WA), top Democrat on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and Representatives Derek Kilmer (D-WA) and Denny Heck (D-WA) announced new federal investments totaling $25.2 million to support the continued cleanup and restoration of the Puget Sound. Originally appropriated by Congress in last year’s budget, the grants were awarded through the Environmental Protection Agency’s National Estuary Program and will fund state, local and tribal Puget Sound recovery and conservation efforts.
“Puget Sound is one of the Pacific Northwest’s most cherished cultural and environmental treasures, and this announcement is great news for Washington state families who benefit from the important role it plays in our state’s economy and ecology,” said Senator Murray.“Strong federal investments in the Sound’s recovery and cleanup will help ensure that our local communities continue to reap Puget Sound’s rich benefits for generations to come, and as a voice for Washington state I will continue fighting back against the Trump Administration’s attempts to eliminate funding for this and other critical Puget Sound efforts.”
“Investments like these lead to a cleaner Puget Sound and healthy fisheries that sustain jobs in our tourism and fishing sectors,” said Representative Kilmer. “As co-chairman of the Puget Sound Recovery Caucus, I’m working to protect Puget Sound and enhance the vital role it plays in our region’s culture and economy.”
“All of us who are privileged to live in Washington state understand the fundamental importance of a healthy Puget Sound to our way of life. Orca and salmon call Puget Sound home, and are iconic figures of the Pacific Northwest,” said Representative Heck. “Federal investments like EPA’s National Estuary Program, in partnership with our state, local, and tribal efforts, are vital to Puget Sound recovery and help us honor our treaty obligations. As co-chair of the Puget Sound Recovery Caucus, I will continue to fight for a greater federal role for our nation’s largest estuary.”
One of the region’s most vital natural resources, cleanup of Puget Sound is critical to the recovery of several Endangered Species Act-listed salmon species, the protection of tribal treaty rights, and to the environmental and economic future of Washington state. Among the efforts funded in whole or in part by the grant awards include:
- The restoration of an additional 5,000 acres of key Orca and salmon habitat;
- The re-opening of about 4,000 acres of shellfish beds in Puget Sound; and
- Improvement of biological condition from fair to good for at least 30 streams.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the grants will fund projects that meet the goals of both the National Estuary Program and the Puget Sound Action Agenda which is developed by the Puget Sound Partnership, the Washington state agency charged with leading the state’s collective efforts to restore and protect Puget Sound. The grants were awarded to Washington’s Department of Ecology, Department of Health, Department of Fish and Wildlife, Department of Natural Resources, and Department of Commerce, the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission, Washington State University’s Stormwater Center, the Puget Sound Partnership, and the University of Washington’s Puget Sound Institute. Senators Murray, Cantwell, and Representative Kilmer joined lawmakers earlier this year to restore funding for Puget Sound recovery and conservation after it was eliminated in President Trump’s proposed budget.