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Legislature Approves the Governor’s Historic Puget Sound Recovery Effort

Gov. Chris Gregoire and the 2007 Legislature worked together to enact legislation and provide funding that will significantly boost efforts to restore and protect Puget Sound.

The legislative package they passed is far-reaching. It includes measures to clean up and protect the waters of Puget Sound and its watersheds; to restore marine, freshwater and land habitat; to speed response to hazardous spills in the Sound and neighboring communities; to protect species; to support scientific research; and more.

The centerpiece of the Governor’s initiative is a bill (SB 5372) establishing the Puget Sound Partnership. The Partnership will be a new state agency with cabinet-level status. It will be governed by a Leadership Council made up of seven civic leaders. The Council and its staff will collaborate with governments, tribes, businesses and the environmental community to create and implement an action plan to restore the health of Puget Sound’s fresh and marine waters by 2020. This action plan will set measures and priorities to guide all protection and restoration programs in the region. This approach is similar to that of the Salmon Plan, which defines measurable goals for the recovery of salmon populations.

Other bills lay the groundwork for action in and around Puget Sound:

  • HB 1761 accelerates the cleanup of Puget Sound
  • HB 1024 phases out toxic flame retardants (PBDEs)
  • HB 2049 authorizes counties bordering Puget Sound to form Marine Resource Committees
  • HB 2220 provides for scientific studies of geoduck aquaculture
  • SB 5552 increases the maximum fine for oil spills
  • SB 5778 requires shellfish-bed protection programs
  • SB 5894 directs the Department of Health to set standards for sewage systems
  • SB 5923 limits the introduction and transport of invasive aquatic species
  • SB 6044 provides for removal of derelict vessels
  • SB 6117 promotes water re-use
  • HB 1656 creates an account for Puget Sound scientific research fund
  • HB 1651 creates a boating program that includes environmental activities. ??

With the Governor’s strong support and leadership, the Legislature provided $238 million for efforts to protect and restore Puget Sound and Hood Canal over the next two years. Included in this amount is $63 million for the Salmon Recovery Funding Board budget, to accelerate the implementation of salmon and marine shoreline and estuary projects. Local project sponsors and watershed councils are busy developing details for the top priority projects to protect and restore the habitats that support salmon and can be completed in the next three years.

In addition to the $238 million, the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program received $100 million for projects throughout the state that will restore and protect habitat, and preserve recreation and farm land. Some of this amount will be available for projects affecting Puget Sound.

Legislators provided an additional $500,000 to the innovative Pioneers in Conservation grant program that supports projects that support farmers and salmon.

     

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