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Ready for the name “Salish Sea” to become official?

May 18th, 2009 by cdunagan

It looks like the Washington State Board on Geographic Names likes the name “Salish Sea” when describing the inland waterway that includes Puget Sound, the Strait of Georgia and the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

I wasn’t able to attend Friday’s hearing on the subject, but Caleb Maki, who staffs the board, told me that the board seems to support the name after hearing a lot of positive comments about it.

In fact the only negative comments, Maki said, seemed to be from people who thought the name “Salish Sea” would replace the name “Puget Sound” or take away something else familiar.

As we’ve discussed before in Water Ways, the proposal is not to take away any names but to add a new one when talking about the body of water that crosses the international border.

In an unofficial poll on this blog, folks were fairly evenly split between liking the name “Salish Sea” and seeing little or no use for it.

If people have strong feelings one way or the other, they should contact the board directly and their comments will be made part of the official record:

Washington State Board on Geographic Names
1111 Washington St. SE, PO Box 47030
Olympia, WA 98504-7030

360-902-1231
Fax 360-902-1778
bogn@dnr.wa.gov

Here’s the story I prepared for tomorrow’s Kitsap Sun:

‘Salish Sea’ Name Supported

OLYMPIA
Washington state could soon have a new official name for the entire inland waterway that includes Puget Sound in Washington, Georgia Strait in British Columbia, Canada, and the Strait of Juan de Fuca, which separates the two countries.

The Washington State Board on Geographic Names heard a proposal Friday to use “Salish Sea” as the name for the overall waterway. Caleb Maki, support staffer for the board, said board members seemed fairly supportive of the new name.

“Apparently people are using this term already, and we are not going to stop them,” he said.

Officially adopting the name “Salish Sea” does not change any existing names, he noted, and the name probably won’t appear on any Washington state maps, because it describes an area not fully contained within this state. It could be useful when talking about cross-boundary issues, however, he said.

Whether the U.S. Board on Geographic Names and its counterpart in Canada wish to adopt the name for wider usage is another issue, Maki said. They are expected to take up the question if the Washington board adopts the name.

Maki said he would send out letters seeking comments from various federal, state and local agencies and organizations. Based on support so far, the new name is likely to be adopted at the next meeting, probably in October.

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7 Responses to “Ready for the name “Salish Sea” to become official?”

  1. Sharon O'Hara Says:

    “Officially adopting the name “Salish Sea” does not change any existing names, he noted, and the name probably won’t appear on any Washington state maps, because it describes an area not fully contained within this state. It could be useful when talking about cross-boundary issues, however, he said.”

    The name ‘could be useful’ -?
    Why spend the time, taxpayer dollars and energy adding a name that COULD be useful, when names are already in place?

    The Washington State Board on Geographic Names must be tax supported – why not spend the time on useful projects of worth?
    Sharon O’Hara

  2. Tom Rosendale Says:

    It obviously isn’t necessary or some name for the whole area would already be in place. If it is for scientific ecological reference, fine. Why does it have to be made “official” if it serves that purpose without being “official”?

    Somebody simply wants holy water sprinkled over this politically correct name.

  3. Ron Says:

    wait..if we are going to spend tax dollars on this..then lets spend some more and name the tunnel..also..I would like to name the state “cloud” and also the state……..

  4. Scrawny Kayaker Says:

    Excellent. We do need a convenient term that means “Washington’s Inland Marine Waters,” and throwing in British Columbia makes sense as the tidal currents in the San Juans are due to the varying levels of the Strait of Georgia and the Strait of Juan de Fuca. I’ve always hated hearing things like “the San Juan Islands in Puget Sound,” when Puget Sound is nowhere near the San Juans. These names do have defined cartographic meanings, you know.

    Extra credit for it being a hat-tip to the earlier culture to inhabit the area. Almost literally the least we could do after invading and stealing most of the land from them.

    And the fact that it sounds a little like ‘salacious’ is the final gravy. Don’t be such a prude! Not that it’s at all fitting. A rare sunny day at Alki can’t hold a candle to Miami Beach, etc, etc.

  5. Sharon O'Hara Says:

    A prude? Oh, we should be so lucky!

    Why not give credit when and where its due?
    Adding an unnecessary name to something isn’t the way to ‘honor’ those who came before… and there are those who came before them. What silliness should we provide for those peoples?
    Sharon O’Hara

  6. BlueLight Says:

    So, if the area is considered one ecosystem, does this mean there is no such thing as “Puget Sound Chinook”? Maybe the status of the “Salish Sea Chinook” should be evaluated to determine whether or not listing on the Endangered Species Act is still warranted.

  7. daveygoliath Says:

    Salish Sea describes the inland waters like Washington describes the entire state.
    Not at all.
    Faulty reasoning would encourage the renaming of all the dozens of inlets, bays, straits and sounds into one encompassing word that tells nobody nothing.

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