Shared Strategy for Puget Sound
About Shared Strategy
What's Happening in Your Area?
Salmon Recovery Plan
Stories of Progress


<< Back to Conference Home Page

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 lifecycle.

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 same direction.

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 your bones.

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:

  1. The people most dramatically affected by changes necessary to save fish want to be involved in decisions that will affect their lives.
  2. For progress to be had, leadership is needed at all levels but particularly at the watersheds.
  3. We need to understand the economic cost of achieving our goals and pursue the most cost effective alternative or we risk losing public support.

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 Strategy

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.

Additional resources

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 on:

  • 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 fun event.

Presenting Partners:

  • Boeing Company
  • Bullitt Foundation
  • Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission
  • Weyerhaeuser

Contributing Partners:

  • City of Bellevue
  • King County
  • Master Builders Association of King & Snohomish Counties
  • Seattle Public Utilities
  • Simpson Resource Company
  • The Nearshore Group
  • Starbucks
  • Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

Supporting Partners:

  • 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 206 447-3336.


Shared Strategy for Puget Sound | 1411 4th Avenue, Suite 1015 | Seattle, WA 98101 | 206.447.3336