News from the Puget Sound Partnership

Alicia Lawver
(360) 464-2011


2015 State of the Sound report: Analysis of ecosystem recovery shows mixed progress

The 2015 State of the Sound, released today by the Puget Sound Partnership, indicates that while the Puget Sound recovery community is making progress in effectively restoring habitat, measures for Chinook salmon, Southern Resident Killer Whales, herring, and other native species show a decline, and local improvements in water quality still don’t add up to improvements at the regional scale.

“These mixed results are the reality of working in a complex ecosystem that is under tremendous pressures right now. It’s why we need to make smart, timely investments in our partners’ hard work to restore and protect habitat, prevent stormwater pollution, and reopen shellfish beds,” said Sheida R. Sahandy, Executive Director of the Puget Sound Partnership.

The State of the Sound presents the latest findings on Puget Sound recovery by evaluating the progress of several aspects of the ecosystem called Puget Sound Vital Signs. The report also shows how successful regional partners are in implementing Puget Sound Action Agenda, the shared plan for recovering the ecosystem.

How is the ecosystem doing? While some indicators of ecosystem health are making progress, few are on a trajectory to reach regionally identified targets for recovery.

Key findings of ecosystem measures include the following:

The majority of the Vital Sign indicators respond to a myriad of activities and forces in the environment, many of which are not included in the Action Agendas or are out of human control. Most Vital Sign indicators are expected to change slowly because they have slow generation times, such as orcas, or are affected by multiple pressures that need to be removed or reduced to see improvement.

Are we making progress in following the region’s plan for Puget Sound recovery? While most of the nearly 300 actions included in the Action Agenda are making satisfactory progress, many are stalled. Funding is cited by partners as the most common barrier to progress.

“It will take decades of persistent effort to stabilize the health of our salmon, orca, and other native populations,” said Sahandy. “If we don't do everything we can to improve water quality and recover habitat now, we may prove to be too late to help these species. The increasing impacts of population growth, climate change, and ocean acidification add to this challenge.”

The State of the Sound reports, as well as additional analyses and recommendations, are available online at

About the State of the Sound
The State of the Sound provides data and information relevant to decisions about changes needed to programs, policies, and funding efforts that can speed up the progress to restore Puget Sound. This report reflects work by hundreds of groups throughout the region, including governments, tribes, nonprofits, communities, scientists, and businesses.

About the Puget Sound Partnership
The Puget Sound Partnership is the state agency formed to lead the region’s collective effort to restore and protect Puget Sound. Working with hundreds of governments, tribes, scientists, businesses, and nonprofits, the Partnership mobilizes partner action around a common agenda, advances Sound investments, and tracks progress to optimize recovery. For more information, go to

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