Partnership sets “targets” for Puget Sound recovery

Puget Sound Partnership has completed 19 ecosystem “targets” that will serve as mileposts on the road to restoring Puget Sound to a healthy condition.

Ecosystem indicators and targets, along with other information, can be accessed from this "Vital Signs" wheel.
Click on image to link to the PSP website.

The final three goals, all dealing with land-use issues, were approved Thursday by the Puget Sound Leadership Council, as I described in a story published in today’s Kitsap Sun. This a major milestone for the partnership.

The last three targets are mentioned in my story, and you can download the complete resolutions here:

Forest cover (PDF 160 kb)

Ecologically significant areas (PDF 160 kb)

Urban growth priority (PDF 160 kb)

The other 16 targets are described in a two-page document found on the partnership’s website: Puget Sound Ecosystem Recovery Targets (PDF 392 kb).

The website also includes information about ecosystem indicators and targets, along with other information, on a “Vital Signs” wheel. Click on the image above to use the new tool.

One concern, as I’ve said before, is that too much focus may shift to these targets to the exclusion of other potential problems. The partnership’s Science Panel and Ecosystem Coordination Board must keep their eyes on the entire Puget Sound ecosystem. They must make sure the approved indicators and targets advance recovery and protection efforts everywhere in Puget Sound.

Monitoring will be needed to measure advancement toward the approved targets, of course. We also need monitoring to measure the success of recovery projects and their effects on smaller ecosystems, particularly estuaries.

From the Strategic Science Plan:

Although it requires long-term stable funding to achieve, without monitoring, there can be no performance accountability, and the opportunities to make improvements in ecosystem recovery are constrained. Because of its critical importance, the Partnership will develop and implement a coordinated regional monitoring program to inform the adaptive management process and support decisions about future ecosystem recovery and information needs.

Support from diverse interests depends on the partnership staying on a path defined by science, as I discovered in my interviews earlier this year assessing the Puget Sound Partnership. See Kitsap Sun, Feb. 5, 2011.

With targets now in place, I hope the partnership will be fearless in its assessment of success. Some failures are inherent in this system. While the partnership has struggled with administrative processs during these early years, there’s too much at s take for less than a clear-eyed vision of what needs to be done.

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