Puget Sound is a National Treasure. It is the largest estuary by volume in the nation, and provides both ecological and economic benefits to over 4 million people. It includes hundreds of fish and bird species, including thirteen marine mammal species. Puget Sound handles over $77 billion in imports and exports, supports $10 billion in outdoor recreation, and $2 billion in agriculture revenue. It is home to major the metropolitan areas of Seattle and Tacoma.
Despite decades of action, ecosystem indicators in the Puget Sound remain mixed at best. Declines in salmon runs and the danger to Orcas highlight the need for continued action. Threats from increased human development and climate change continue as well. It is clear that enhanced and strengthened Federal cooperation and action is needed.
This month, a MOU established Puget Sound as a priority ecosystem, and establishes a National Task force to promote the conservation and restoration of the Puget Sound Ecosystem. It establishes the Puget Sound Federal Task Force. The MOU is currently written to last for 10 years, and currently includes seven key parties: CEQ, EPA, DOI, DOT, USDA, NOAA, and USACE. Other parties can be added at either the national or regional level.
In the MOU commits the agencies commit to developing a five year action plan, which must be coordinated with the State of Washington and developed in consultation with the Federally Recognized Tribes. The Federal action plan will be developed to leverage Federal programs across agencies, and serve to coordinate diverse programs on Federal priorities. It will also be coordinated with CEQ and OMB.