Sunday, November 12, 2017

Hello? Puget Sound Partnership?

Guest blog by Pete Haase

Hello?  Puget Sound Partnership?  Do you suppose you could take a little break from meetings and planning and strategizing and round up some ammunition to send my way?

I am a volunteer, a “Salish Sea Steward.” I’m just one of probably thousands like me, all over the greater Puget Sound region, on the very front lines of the daily battle for the protection and betterment of our special environment.  During our “work” we collectively see and visit with hundreds of regular folks, every day, and do our best to help them learn to “do the right things.”  They always want to know more about what those “right things” are and they always thank us for the efforts we put forth.  But we rarely have satisfying or proper answers.

It would be a big help if we had some crib notes or cheat sheets or little reminder cards that explain the “right things” in a few words and catchy graphics.

Instead, right now, we are needing to attend talks, read long documents, articles and papers, or try to find someone to enlighten us.  That takes a lot of time and some of the material is awfully complicated. It is too much to ask of volunteers.  I know my brain is already too full.  I wind up “winging it” quite a bit!  So, for me, it needs to be concise, attractive, and stick to the big “Vital Signs – Targets.”  Tell us what we “citizens” need to do to help get to those targets.

I know it is not easy to create these material.  Everything is complex and interwoven and you do find out new things all the time.  Many of the actions the common citizen can take mean advocating for policy and regulation changes and better enforcement of existing regulations – not just rethinking their own behavior.  Sometimes the whole solution is not yet known.  Most things are very costly.  Besides that there is this terrible need to overload every piece of literature with more pictures and more words.

But you did not sign up for the easy work, and some few examples could be done for us to try out and critique.  Possibly the work can be farmed out to regional groups so that the local perspective comes through but with you assuring that the style, the message, and the prescription is consistent everywhere.  Certainly key things for citizens to get active about in King County are not the same in San Juan County.

It is well recognized that the “general public” around the Salish Sea must become much more educated, excited about, and engaged with the betterment of it.  Here is one of many possible ways.  Give it a try.  Guys like me will do our best to make it work.  These things could become collector’s items!!!

(Pete Haase is an environmental volunteer in Skagit County doing citizen science with others in the hope that it will make a difference.)


  1. How about funneling some funds to local groups instead of keeping it all at the State level? Nice article Pete...we are all burnt out on all the planning and strategy. We need action!!

  2. The "theys" can't leave the boardroom or they might have to acknowledge that expansion of industrial shellfish installations can have negative impact upon shorelines they were supposed to protect. How many species have to move aside for geoducks? Try to visualize Taylor Shellfish plans to install 25 acres of geoducks in one of the smallest salmon estuaries -(Burley Lagoon) in the middle of a residential neighborhood. What "science" do we get out of UW, to help the public overcome their negative attitudes about such industrial operations. Why does the Army Corps require hydraulic permits for marinas, floats, etc, and not require the same for vast acres of plastic grow bags that litter the sediment. And why not a hydraulic permit for the barges that deliver huge bags of plastic pvc pipes for geoduck installations.

  3. This is Pete. (In the blog world I am known as Rabbits' Guy - don't ask!)

    Sue - If the content and style and theme in our messages came from the PSP, then I suspect many local groups could do a good job of producing material with some funding support.

    When you are planning for doing a $100 million job, but you only wind up with $20 million, most of that will have been spent on the planning!

    Heather - To me, you point out an example of a real hard decision the PSP Leadership needs to make, but can't (or won't) and so the whole effort is diluted. Stream-side buffers, net-pens, and lo-flow water impacting salmon are other examples.

    1. yes Pete, all agreed. At least Pierce County acknowledged potential issues by requiring production of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). Industry points that out as if the grower is doing the admirable thing by volunteering to produce the EIS. However, I dont know of any county that could or should fund the studies that may be required for the result. So the onus is on the applicant to justify such a precedent setting permit.

  4. Sorry to burst your bubble Pete but the Partnership is 31 or 32 years old. Perhaps you remember the Puget Sound Water Quality Authority. Even Mike Sato worked there once. My very first paid gig working in an environmental field was a PSWQA contract to produce simple and direct PSA's and a booklet in plain English on how to properly dispose of household hazardous waste. Yes 31 or 32 years ago. The one thing that's changed in three decades is that they've turned their initial stodginess into a finely tuned process machinery designed to produce nothing. Don't waste your time hoping for direction from this irrelevant bunch. Believe me, educate yourself and keep up the good work. You don't need their blessing and even less their wisdom. You'll be fine.

    1. Thanks for the perspective and encouragement ... but still ...