Thursday, U.S. Representatives Derek Kilmer (WA-06) and Marilyn Strickland (WA-10), the Co-Chairs of the Puget Sound Recovery Caucus, introduced the Promoting United Government Efforts to Save Our Sound (PUGET SOS) Act of 2021. The PUGET SOS Act would enhance the federal government’s role and investment in the Puget Sound, the nation’s largest estuary by volume and the heart of Washington state’s identity and economic engine.
The PUGET SOS Act helps build a stronger partner in the federal government for critical Puget Sound recovery and restoration efforts in three main ways:
- First, the bill establishes a Puget Sound Recovery National Program Office in the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to coordinate protection and restoration efforts related to Puget Sound.
- Second, it codifies the Puget Sound Federal Leadership Task Force, which was first created through a 2016 Memorandum of Understanding by executive action. The Task Force consists of representatives from various agencies that have a role in Puget Sound recovery.
- Third, the bill authorizes $50 million annually for five years to carry out the provisions above.
“Puget Sound is our region’s most iconic body of water, a place on which generations of friends and neighbors have built their lives and made their livelihoods. But if future generations are going to have those opportunities, we’ve got to take action now to protect and restore the Sound – and we need a strong federal partner in those efforts,” said Rep. Kilmer. “That’s why I am proud to introduce the PUGET SOS Act with Representative Strickland to ensure the federal government steps-up to be the partner that state, tribal, and local entities need to save our Sound – and to assist regional efforts to restore salmon and orca populations, ensure future generations can dig for clams, and uphold tribal treaty rights.”
“We can’t wait any longer. We must seize this moment to heal and protect the Sound for future generations, and we know our partners at the state, local, and tribal level need immediate federal support to do so. Puget Sound is a treasure to our region and our nation, not only because of its breathtaking beauty, but also because of how critical it is to our economy, jobs, and environment – including our fish and wildlife habitat, biodiversity, and water supply. I’m thrilled to join Congressman Kilmer in introducing PUGET SOS Act to elevate the importance of Puget Sound at the national level – the same way people think of Chesapeake Bay and the Great Lakes – and to ensure that the federal government steps up to give the Sound the recognition, support, and environmental stewardship it deserves,” said Rep. Strickland.
“The Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission applauds Congressman Kilmer and Congresswoman Strickland for their leadership in introducing the PUGET SOS Act,” said Lorraine Loomis, Chair of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission. “The PUGET SOS Act provides an important opportunity to address continued habitat concerns and accelerate efforts in restoring the health of the Puget Sound. The Act encourages better coordination of state and federal agency work and increases accountability for getting the job done right. I especially want to acknowledge Congressman Kilmer’s continued engagement with the tribes over the years and his on-going efforts to pass this legislation. These are the kinds of changes that can truly improve Puget Sound recovery efforts, while also protecting tribal treaty-reserved rights and resources.”
“The PUGET SOS Act will authorize crucial funding for Puget Sound recovery efforts and coordinate federal resources and expertise,” said Laura Blackmore, executive director of the Puget Sound Partnership. “Passage of the PUGET SOS Act would signal Puget Sound’s importance to the economic, environmental, and cultural wellbeing of the nation. With Puget Sound recovery, we don’t have time to wait; this bill helps accelerate and amplify our efforts. I am grateful to Rep. Kilmer and Rep. Strickland for their commitment and leadership to ensure a healthy and resilient Puget Sound.”
“The PUGET SOS Act is an important step forward for the restoration of Puget Sound and the well-being of millions of people that depend on it,” said Mike Stevens, Washington state Director for The Nature Conservancy. “This legislation would bring much-needed resources to address pollution, flooding, inequitable access to clean water and other challenges facing our region. We are grateful to Reps. Kilmer and Strickland for championing Puget Sound recovery and for introducing this proposal to both coordinate federal and state recovery efforts and protect tribal treaty rights. These are all crucial components for creating a more resilient and sustainable future for the region.”
“Now more than ever we need the federal government to resume its vital role in the protection and recovery of Puget Sound and the Salish Sea. Coordination among our federal leaders and agencies means our region has a chance for the clean water and healthy habitats that are vital to our people, tribal nations, nature, and communities–this bill is an investment in our environment and a livable planet for future generations,” said Alyssa Macy, CEO of Washington Environmental Council/Washington Conservation Voters.
The Puget Sound Recovery Caucus, founded in 2013 and currently co-chaired by Reps. Derek Kilmer and Marilyn Strickland, focuses on recovering Puget Sound through steps like preventing pollution from urban storm water runoff, protecting and restoring habitat, and restoring and re-opening shellfish beds.