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EPA and Washington State provide nearly $4 million to protect Puget Sound

Release Date: 03/10/2006
Contact Information: Contact: Michael Rylko, (206) 553-4014, Tony Brown, (206) 553-1203, Curt Hart, (360) 407-6990, pager (360) 971-9610,

(Olympia, WA - March 10, 2006) – Washington State Gov. Chris Gregoire and U.S. Congressman Norm Dicks were on hand today when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) awarded nearly $2 million to the Washington State Department of Ecology (Ecology) to accelerate and improve efforts to address the health of Puget Sound, the second largest marine estuary in the United States.

“Cleaning up and protecting the Puget Sound is one of my highest environmental priorities,” Gregoire said. “I know that by bringing everyone to the table and working together, we can save Puget Sound for our children and grandchildren.”

Washington State must secure approximately $2 million to match the federal grant.

One of Gov. Gregoire’s priorities this year was to ensure a sustainable Puget Sound. In December, she unveiled a $42 million initiative to begin restoring Puget Sound by 2020 and formed the Puget Sound Partnership, a public-private effort to help solve environmental challenges in the Sound.

The Washington Legislature largely adopted this request, providing a total of $52 million.

Gov. Gregoire co-chairs the Puget Sound Partnership with Billy Frank, Jr. and Bill Ruckelshaus. Congressman Dicks and EPA Regional Administrator Michael Bogert are also members of the Partnership.

“This money will support the Governor’s new Puget Sound Partnership as it develops a more thorough and coordinated approach to researching and protecting the water quality and the overall condition of the Puget Sound marine ecosystem,” Dicks said.

Congressman Dicks, whose congressional district includes Hood Canal and southern Puget Sound, was instrumental in directing this effort to become a significant regional priority for EPA.

EPA is focused on the Puget Sound as a national priority. According to Bogert, the agency is demonstrating its commitment to Puget Sound by adopting the state’s aggressive cleanup goals for 2006. These include improving water quality to lift harvest restrictions on 1,000 acres of shellfish beds, cleaning up 200 acres of contaminated sediments, restoring and protecting 3,500 acres of estuarine wetlands, and cutting diesel emissions by 8 percent.

The 15-year goals of the Puget Sound Partnership include finding the best ways to improve the Sound’s water quality, keep region streams flowing, protect and restore critical shoreline habitat, and help recover important species at risk from pollution such as orca whales, salmon and groundfish.

The new federal and state money will support the development of the Partnership’s 2020 agenda to integrate the state’s Chinook salmon recovery plan with Puget Sound restoration. The partnership will work with the region’s top scientists to identify conservation priorities.

Ecology and EPA are part of the state’s Puget Sound Action Team and as such help manage the Puget Sound National Estuary Program, charged with protecting the Sound’s environmental health.

“This infusion of additional federal and state dollars is an important catalyst to improve the environmental health of Puget Sound,” Bogert said. “EPA is proud to be a part of a forward-looking partnership to help improve and protect the environment of the Sound.”

The State Department of Fish & Wildlife will match $700,000 of the EPA funds to support local efforts to recover endangered salmon populations.

Another portion of the funding will support outreach and education efforts to better engage citizens in support of Puget Sound conservation and protection.

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