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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
06-11-2012

Five "Puget Sound Champions" honored for work to protect and restore Puget Sound

RENTON – Five “Puget Sound Champions” were honored by the Puget Sound Partnership at a ceremony on Monday, June 11 at noon in the Renton City Hall Council Chambers.

The Puget Sound Partnership is the state agency responsible for coordinating Puget Sound cleanup and restoration.

The honorees are a achieving the goals of the Puget Sound Action Agenda, the regional plan to restore Puget Sound. They are part of the South Central Caucus Group, one of eight sub-regional groups the Partnership coordinates to prioritize local programs and projects that create and sustain a healthy Puget Sound. The award recipients were recognized for their exceptional work to protect and restore habitat, clean up polluted waters, and engage the community in Puget Sound recovery.

Awards were presented by Gerry O’Keefe, executive director of the Puget Sound Partnership, and Martha Kongsgaard, Chair of the Partnership’s Leadership Council.

The honorees are:

King County, for a Vashon and Maury Island shoreline protection initiative that included purchase of a mile of shoreline and 250 acres of a former gravel mine, permanent protection of 110 acres of shoreline and upland habitat at Camp Sealth using "Transfer of Development Rights ," and adoption of stronger protections for all shorelines in unincorporated King County. When coupled with adjacent 320-acre Maury Island Marine Park, this is one of the largest public holdings of protected marine shoreline in Puget Sound. King County’s award will be presented to Kevin Brown, Director of Parks and Recreation, and Mark Isaacson, Director of the Water and Land Resources Division.

“After more than a decade of advocating for this habitat, our victory in permanently protecting one mile of undeveloped shoreline and uplands was a victory for Puget Sound,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine. “It was the kind of opportunity that comes along once in a lifetime, and we succeeded thanks to the partnership of tenacious Vashon/Maury residents, courageous elected officials, public-minded lawyers, and dedicated environmental donors and leaders.”

"Protecting undeveloped Puget Sound shoreline is critical to our efforts to restore the sound," said Sen. Sharon Nelson, D-Maury Island. "Citizens, nonprofit organizations, as well as the Puget Sound Partnership and King County worked collaboratively to save over a mile of shoreline that was threatened by a multinational mining operation."

Totem Ocean Trailer Express (TOTE) in Tacoma, for installation of the first industrial rain garden to treat runoff from a maintenance building roof and parking lot. The rain garden removes 80% of the heavy metals in an estimated quarter million gallons of rainwater per year, and provides a cost-effective solution to meeting industrial stormwater requirements. Phil Morrell, Vice President of Marine and Terminal Operations, will receive the award.

“TOTE is proud to be a leader representing the innovation and outcomes that are critical to helping save Puget Sound,” said Phil Morrell. “With $20 billion in annual economic activity coming from the Puget Sound region, cleaning up Puget Sound isn't just a nice idea, it's an economic necessity.”

Kristin Williamson, representing the South Sound Salmon Enhancement Group, for serving as the project manager for the successful Greenwater River restoration project, which restored in-stream habitat and floodplain function along the Greenwater River, a key tributary of the White River used by spring Chinook salmon.

The Green Shorelines Steering Committee, for developing tools and hosting forums to help engage landowners around Lake Washington and Lake Sammamish to improve their shorelines using attractive, natural techniques that benefit salmon habitat and water quality. The award will be presented to Jean White, WRIA 8 Watershed Coordinator, and Annette Frahm, Green Shorelines Outreach Coordinator.

“I’m proud of the collaboration and innovation volunteers and lakefront homeowners are using to develop new ways to protect Lake Washington and protect private property," said State Sen. Steve Litzow of Mercer Island and Puget Sound Partnership board member. “The regional coordination provided by the Partnership, coupled with local project implementation, is key to protecting our greatest natural assets in the northwest.”

“Three out of four jobs in Washington come from the Puget Sound area, and most of our people live within a few miles of these waters,” said Rep. Bob Hasegawa. “I salute the heroes who’ve sacrificed to achieve real progress toward cleaning up Puget Sound – we all owe them our thanks, and our help to finish this job.”

Feet First, for its sponsorship of guided “Watershed Walks” in West Seattle that educate citizens about the ecology of the Longfellow Creek watershed. Feet First works across Washington to ensure that all communities are walkable. Lisa Quinn, Executive Director of Feet First, will receive the award.

An honorary mention will be awarded to Seattle Public Utilities in collaboration with the Environmental Coalition of South Seattle for creation of a Spill Kit Incentive Program, which provides free spill kits, spill response plans, and training to businesses engaged in high-risk, pollution-generating activities.

“The critical work of ecosystem recovery happens at the local level,” said Martha Kongsgaard, “and the larger goal of regional Puget Sound recovery can only be achieved through the coordinated actions like those of today’s honorees.”

Gerry O’Keefe lauded the collaboration and persistence of the honorees, many of whom have completed complex, multi-year projects. “Puget Sound cleanup and recovery is both urgently needed a long-term challenge. That’s why it’s so important to honor and celebrate the hard work and dedication of those who rise to this challenge,” said O’Keefe. “It takes all of us, working together as partners, to save Puget Sound.”

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The Puget Sound Partnership is the backbone organization that connects citizens, governments, tribes, scientists and businesses together to set priorities, implement a regional recovery plan, and ensure accountability for results that fix the health of Puget Sound. By combining efforts and focusing on priorities, more than 2,440 acres of habitat have been protected, 70 miles of streams and rivers have been restored, and game-changing restoration projects have been advanced since the Partnership was established through bipartisan leadership in 2007.

Event Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/designer_psp/7363152958/in/photostream

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