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“State of the Sound” report falls short of expectations

The first “State of the Sound” report issued by the Puget Sound Partnership was announced yesterday with practically no fanfare.

I recall that the Partnership’s predecessor group, the Puget Sound Action Team, used to make a big deal out of these ecosystem reports. Frankly, I had expected a major rollout, like that of the Puget Sound Action Agenda — until I read through the document and began to ask questions.

David Dicks, executive director of the Puget Sound Partnership, told me the report was a “hybrid version.” Before the next formal report is due in two years, he hopes to provide more meaningful ecosystem-condition reports through a Web site.

The Partnership’s Science Panel called the report a “transitional” document between descriptions of ecosystem conditions in past “State of the Sound” reports and a new “ecosystem-reporting framework” being developed for the Puget Sound Partnership.

Kathy Fletcher, executive director of People for Puget Sound, said the document is not what the Legislature envisioned when it laid out reporting requirements for the Partnership. Without better indicators, benchmarks and long-term goals, nobody knows if the Partnership is on track to restore Puget Sound to a healthy condition by 2020, she said.

Fletcher has a unique perspective on this process. Besides heading an environmental organization, she serves on the Partnership’s Ecosystem Coordination Board. She also was the first executive director of the original Puget Sound panel — called the Puget Sound Water Quality Authory (1983).

I won’t linger on this new report, as I expect more useful information to be forthcoming in the next few months. Read my story in today’s Kitsap Sun, or download the report from the Puget Sound Partnership.

If you download the report, you may wish to read about the Performance Management System being developed, which is described in some detail, as well as a description of funding issues. Those and a few other details are new additions to the “State of the Sound.”

Because the Partnership is relying heavily on its Science Panel to develop a system to measure changes in the ecosystem, I’ll highlight a few of the problems, which the panel describes in its section of the report:
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