The Shared Strategy for Puget Sound Conference last month brought
together more than 400 people working for salmon, watershed health,
and the economic vitality of our region. The crowd was as diverse
and varied in their interests as the marine and freshwater landscapes
visited by salmon as they move through their complex and compelling
State, federal and tribal government representatives, farmers and
timberland owners, salmon planners and citizen activists, business
and environmental leaders came together to celebrate and learn from
success, explore the challenges ahead and tee up the next steps towards
building a regional recovery plan for Puget Sound salmon.
We took time out from our hard work to share accomplishments and
appreciate our successes. The depth and quality of efforts to save
salmon and improve our region painted a vivid picture of the pride
and regional identity that weave together the diverse people and
communities of Puget Sound.
The breakout sessions provided a poignant reminder of the breadth
and complexity of the challenges we face. But the leadership, people
power and common commitment evident at the conference demonstrated
the potential we have to make progress when we pull together in the
Collaboration is paving the way for success
In his keynote address Bill Ruckelshaus said "the most impressive
thing to me in all this is the degree of cooperation everyone is
showing. Over the last several years there has been an increasing
recognition that we are all in this together. No single agency of
government, no matter at what level, or power they have been granted
by statute or guaranteed by treaty can alone bring these fish back.
It takes everyone submerging their own agenda and pulling in the
same direction. Where this has happened, the progress is inspiring.
You know it is happening. You can see it. You feel it way down in
In the watersheds in Puget Sound where people are listening to one
another, trying to understand what the world looks like to their
neighbor, whether tribal member, farmer, forest owner, government
official, fisherman or just someone concerned about the future of
the place where they live and where people are working together to
ensure a prosperous future - when all this is happening - it's like
magic. These magical moments are occurring all over Puget Sound."
We are making progress
We are making gains on three key issues noted by Mr. Ruckelshaus
that inspired the conception of Shared Strategy:
- The people most dramatically affected by changes necessary to
save fish want to be involved in decisions that will affect their
- For progress to be had, leadership is needed at all levels but
particularly at the watersheds.
- We need to understand the economic cost of achieving our goals
and pursue the most cost effective alternative or we risk losing
Farmers, developers and other interests directly affected by salmon
recovery actions are participating more in decisions about salmon
and watershed health. Timberland owners, through the state's Forests
and Fish law, are demonstrating their commitment to implementing
workable solutions. The presence of farmers, developers and timberland
owners at the conference, and the caliber of leaders from virtually
every sector is evidence of our potential for ever greater progress.
Herman Williams Jr. Chair of the Tulalip Tribes and farmer Dale
Reiner shared the story of collaboration among the tribes and farmers
on the Skykomish River. "As we talked about what we could do
together, we began to realize that as a coalition we could open doors
- and eyes - and that we could get support from politicians and groups," said
Williams to the Capitol Press, in a January 24, 2003 news report.
Since salmon were listed as endangered in 1999, we've completed
projects with immediate impact. Through watershed strategies, scientific
advances and policy agreements like Forests and Fish, our efforts
become more strategic and able to inspire confidence that we are
investing public and private dollars wisely.
Many challenges remain
Regulation remains a critical tool for protecting healthy habitat
and restoring damaged areas. But we must ensure regulations have
the flexibility to encourage creative solutions to the very problems
they were written to address. Current regulations can sometimes discourage
restoration by increasing the liability of property owners who improve
stream courses on their property.
During the next year, the State and local governments will be setting
standards for stormwater, shorelines management, water quality and
quantity and critical areas. Progress in these areas is critically
needed to prevent damage in our watersheds wrought by present and
future human actions. As we work in our watersheds to develop specific
action plans, we need thoughtful and timely decisions on these major
standards to help protect current environmental conditions and build
back the quality and quantity of habitat for salmon.
We must address growth. Each watershed in Puget Sound is expected
to grow by 20 to 60 percent in population over the next 20 years.
We must find better ways to link our efforts to support growth and
preserve and restore habitats for salmon and the health of Puget
Sound. Standards for new development, for example, should encourage
in-filling and redevelopment of existing urban areas. New studies
and scientific advances can guide wise investments to restore lost
environmental functions in existing and new urban areas.
The rights of Puget Sound tribes and property owners and the dictates
of the Endangered Species Act need to be addressed. All are critical
to building a recovery plan for salmon that addresses the interests
of our region. Meeting complex legal requirements for salmon, tribes
and property owners will be tricky. The best way to navigate that
legal challenge so that all interests and requirements converge,
is for property owners, community groups and tribes to work together
to find creative, workable solutions.
Next steps for salmon recovery and Shared
People attending the conference demonstrated courage and respect
in voicing their opinions and differences and many discovered they
weren't as far from others as they thought. That kind of dialogue
is a key ingredient for our immediate work to build a collaborative
regional recovery plan for salmon.
The next step in the five-step Shared Strategy is to support people
working in the 15 watersheds and marine waters of Puget Sound to
identify specific goals. Goals must be measurable and address the
key ingredients for salmon survival. Draft watershed chapters for
the recovery plan are scheduled to reach completion by June 2004.
At that point we will assess whether collectively, we are meeting
our objectives for fish, the health of Puget Sound and the prosperity
of our region.
Watershed groups will need support as they engage interests in their
communities vital to gaining commitments related to habitat, harvest
and hatcheries. Interests of all kinds are encouraged to participate
in their local watershed and actively help set the course for the
future. Over the next several months, the Shared Strategy Development
Committee will post for review draft criteria to evaluate the impact
of our collective actions and commitments in promoting salmon recovery
for the long-term. The Committee will also identify key elements
and encourage the support necessary for integration of harvest, habitat
and hatcheries in each watershed.
Support remains robust
Local decision making and action continues to enjoy strong support.
Representatives Jennifer Dunn and Norm Dicks stated their commitment
to continued federal funding, and relayed support from other members
of the Northwest Delegation. They also called for regular updates
on our progress to help them be effective advocates for salmon recovery
and watershed health and so they can share our successes and challenges
with their constituents.
Support also remains strong among legislators and Governor Locke.
In his conference address the Governor stated, "(t)o some, investment
in salmon recovery may seem like an easy area to substantially cut,
or even eliminate. . . In tough times, shouldn't we be focusing on
the needs of people instead of fish?"
"The answer is yes, we should be focusing on the needs of people.
And that's exactly why investment in salmon recovery remains critically
important to our state. An investment in Washington salmon is an
investment in business and jobs. . .An investment in salmon is an
investment in our quality of life," said Locke.
Breakout session summaries and power point presentations are available on
this website. Videotaped portions of the conference can be
purchased from TVW. TVW also
offers free audio transcriptions of some portions of the conference.
Videotaped portions can also be borrowed from Shared Strategy by
calling our office at (206) 447-3336.
Shared Strategy staff will keep you informed through regular updates
- the progress of Shared Strategy and local groups in building
a regional recovery plan;
- efforts of critical regional and/or local significance;
- scientific advances; and
- new tools to help guide work at the regional and watershed levels.
Thank you for your support
Thank you to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, conference
sponsors, breakout session leaders and facilitators, and to everyone
who attended the conference. The energy, enthusiasm and commitment
you bring to Shared Strategy are inspiring and are the key to our
unprecedented effort to recover endangered species in a way that
recognizes and supports local communities.
Generous support from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
and conference sponsors allowed us to reduce registration costs and
make scholarships available, assuring the broad attendance that made
the event a success. Pyramid Communications, the conference consultant,
did excellent work in supporting us to provide a well organized and
- Boeing Company
- Bullitt Foundation
- Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission
- City of Bellevue
- King County
- Master Builders Association of King & Snohomish Counties
- Seattle Public Utilities
- Simpson Resource Company
- The Nearshore Group
- Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife
- Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
- Gordon, Thomas, Honeywell
- Laird Norton Trust
- Port of Seattle
- Preston Gates Ellis
- Puget Sound Action Team
- Puget Sound Energy
- Safeco Corporation
- Washington Forest Protection Association
- Paladin Data Systems
- Plum Creek Timber Company
- WRQ Inc.
- Jerry Hermanson
For more information, please contact the Shared Strategy staff at