Ecological assessments

Ecological assessments (sometimes referred to as "conservation assessments") typically identify and evaluate the ecological attributes of an ecosystem. There are many approaches to performing ecological assessments, and a variety of efforts focused on the Salish Sea are collected under this description.

Graphic of the IEA loop. Credit: NOAA

OVERVIEW

Ecological assessments in the Salish Sea

Ecological assessments (sometimes referred to as "conservation assessments") typically identify and evaluate the ecological attributes of an ecosystem. There is no single type of ecological assessment, but the following list includes an informal inventory of related efforts in the Salish Sea. This list does not include Ecological or Environmental Impact Assessments, which are targeted to specific land uses. This is a living document and will be updated as more information becomes available and as needs arise. 

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Fig 1. The six projects assessed are located on both sides of the Canadian / United States border, which bisects the Salish Sea and its watershed.
1/4/2016

Evaluating threats in multinational marine ecosystems: A Coast Salish first nations and tribal perspective

A 2015 paper in the journal PLoS ONE identifies ongoing and proposed energy-related development projects that will increase marine vessel traffic in the Salish Sea. It evaluates the threats each project poses to natural resources important to Coast Salish first nations and tribes.

Pressures Assessment report cover
9/18/2015

The 2014 Puget Sound Pressures Assessment

The Puget Sound Pressures Assessment is an effort to better understand the pressures on the Sound’s freshwater, marine-nearshore, and terrestrial resources and identify the critical ecosystem vulnerabilities that should be addressed to ensure sustainable long-term protection and recovery.

Puget Sound marine waters 2014 report cover
9/13/2015

2014 Puget Sound Marine Waters Overview

A report from NOAA and the Puget Sound Ecosystem Monitoring Program provides an overview of 2014 marine water quality and conditions in Puget Sound from comprehensive monitoring and observing programs.

2014 state of salmon in watersheds report cover
9/13/2015

2014 state of salmon in watersheds executive summary

This report documents how Washingtonians have responded to the challenges of protecting and restoring salmon and steelhead to healthy status. It also serves as a tool to summarize achievements, track salmon recovery progress through common indicators, and identify data gaps that need to be filled.

All scenarios project warming for the 21st century. The graph shows average yearly temperatures for the Pacific Northwest relative to the average for 1950-1999 (gray horizontal line). The black line shows the average simulated temperature for 1950–2011, while the grey lines show individual model results for the same time period. Thin colored lines show individual model projections for two emissions scenarios (low: RCP 4.5, and high: RCP 8.5)[ ], and thick colored lines show the average among models projecti
8/12/2015

Future scenarios for climate change in Puget Sound

The University of Washington Climate Impacts Group has been analyzing the potential effects of climate change in Puget Sound. The projections below represent some of their most recent reporting about expected conditions in the region over the next 50 to 100 years. Support for this article was provided by the Puget Sound Partnership.

Surface winds over Puget Sound report cover
8/6/2015

The surface winds over Puget Sound and the Strait of Juan de Fuca and their oceanographic effects

This 1954 report accumulates all available wind report summaries have been in the form of monthly wind roses for each reporting station and makes a determination of the frequency and maximum duration of surface winds of above average velocity at selected stations over a three year period. 

Image from report (page 140)
8/6/2015

Presence, distribution and fate of toxicants in Puget Sound and Lake Washington

Toxicant pretreatment planning study technical report C1: Presence, distribution and fate of toxicants in Puget Sound and Lake Washington was published in October 1984.

The shared marine waters of British Columbia and Washington report cover
7/28/2015

The shared marine waters of British Columbia and Washington

A scientific assessment of current status and future trends in resource abundance and environmental quality in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Strait of Georgia, and Puget Sound 

Sound indicators report cover page
7/28/2015

Sound indicators: a review for the Puget Sound Partnership

By the end of 2010, the PSP Science Panel’s efforts had reached the stage where an independent review by the WSAS (Washington State Academy of Sciences) was timely and useful to help guide its future indicator development efforts.

Figure 1. The adaptive management process used in the Action Agenda and Science Plan for the Puget Sound Partnership (page 4).
7/27/2015

Biennial Science Work Plan for 2009-2011

This 2009-2011 Puget Sound Biennial Science Work Plan details the high-priority science activities required to: support the implementation of the Action Agenda; build capacity to revise and improve future Action Agendas; and enhance the Puget Sound Partnership’s ability to lead the ecosystem protection and restoration effort.

2012 State of Salmon in Watersheds Executive Summary report cover
7/21/2015

2012 state of salmon in watersheds executive summary

Salmon recovery demands both dedication among people with different interests, and sustained resources. This biennial report tells the story of the progress made to date and the challenges ahead.

Sound Science 2007 report cover image
7/21/2015

Sound Science 2007

Sound Science: Synthesizing Ecological and Socio-economic Information about the Puget Sound Ecosystem summarizes what we know about the greater Puget Sound ecosystem and what we think could happen in the future given present trajectories and trends.

State of the Sound 1986 report cover image
7/20/2015

1986 State of the Sound

This is the first State of the Sound Report. It summarizes much of what is known about the Puget Sound basin—its history, economy, human population, land uses and other factors influencing its water quality.

State of the Sound 2004 report cover image
7/20/2015

2004 State of the Sound

The State of the Sound 2004 provides answers about the health of Puget Sound and Washington State’s work to protect it. 

State of the Sound 2007 report cover image
7/20/2015

2007 State of the Sound

State of the Sound 2007 takes a scientific look at the health of Puget Sound and the status of its marine life, habitats, water quality and climate. The report tracks more than two dozen environmental indicators that provide insight into the health of the Sound and threats to that health.

2009 State of the Sound report cover image; Puget Sound Partnership
7/20/2015

2009 State of the Sound

In the 2009 State of the Sound report, the Partnership 1) documents the current status of the ecosystem, 2) explains the performance management system we are putting in place to manage recovery efforts in a systematic way and our progress to date in developing the system, and 3) presents an overview of funding and anticipated results for the 2009-11 biennium, as well as accomplishments in 2007-09 biennium.

Sample map of “Year of Emergence”, depicting where and when there is projected to be noticeable differences in number of days per year with daily maximum temperature exceeding 90°F (32.2°C) compared to 1950-1999, for a moderate rate of climate change, high emissions scenario and high management sensitivity, according to the BCSD5 climate data source.
5/19/2015

Time of emergence of climate change signals in the Puget Sound Basin

A December 2014 report from the University of Washington examines when and where climate change impacts will occur in the Puget Sound watershed.

An example of a search query for climate impacts in King County, WA
5/19/2015

Online resource identifies 'time of emergence' for Puget Sound climate impacts

When and where will we see the impacts of climate change in Puget Sound? A web-based tool factors in dozens of site-specific variables for watersheds throughout the Pacific Northwest. The resource was developed by the University of Washington Climate Impacts Group with support from the EPA, the US Army Corps of Engineers and the Center for Data Science, University of Washington-Tacoma.

Report cover photo by Victor Mesny.
1/29/2015

Climate change vulnerability and adaptation in the North Cascades Region, Washington

A 2014 report by the North Cascadia Adaptation Partnership identifies climate change issues relevant to resource management in the North Cascades, and recommends solutions that will facilitate the transition of the diverse ecosystems of this region into a warmer climate.

12/17/2014

Development of a stormwater retrofit plan for Water Resources Inventory Area (WRIA) 9: Comprehensive needs and cost assessment and extrapolation to Puget Sound

A 2014 King County report projects the capital and maintenance costs of the stormwater treatment facilities that would be needed, within WRIA 9 and the Puget Sound region, to fully comply with the Clean Water Act. 

Biennial Science Work Plan for 2014-2016
12/16/2014

Biennial Science Work Plan for 2014-2016

Every two years, statute requires the Puget Sound Partnership to produce a Biennial Science Work Plan (BSWP). Its primary purposes are to I) assess how well ongoing research addresses decision-­‐critical uncertainties relating to the recovery of Puget Sound; II) identify additional science needs for recovery; III) make recommendations for priority science actions in the coming biennium; and IV) suggest how science can better support recovery. This document is the third BSWP to be produced in the series, covering the 2014-­2016 biennium.

Eastsound Constructed Wetland flyer
10/24/2014

Managing growth in island communities

A 2014 San Juan County report addresses sustainable growth planning, pollution prevention, and mitigation actions in the Eastsound and Westcott Bay areas.

Gorst Creek Watershed Characterization, regional context map 2-1
10/23/2014

Comprehensive watershed plan for sustainable development and restoration of the Gorst Creek watershed

A 2014 report explains the development of a comprehensive land use plan that is based on the ecological values and functions of the Gorst Creek Watershed in southeast Kitsap County.

2013 Puget Sound Marine Waters Overview
9/11/2014

2013 Puget Sound Marine Waters Overview

A report from the Puget Sound Ecosystem Monitoring Program provides an overview of 2013 marine water quality and conditions in Puget Sound from comprehensive monitoring and observing programs.

The Canary Rockfish is one of the 119 species listed in a new paper from the SeaDoc Society as "at risk." Photo by Tippy Jackson, courtesy of NOAA.
5/22/2014

Species of Concern within the Salish Sea nearly double between 2002 and 2013

Approximately every two years, the SeaDoc Society prepares a list of species of concern within the Salish Sea ecosystem. The following paper found 119 species at risk and was presented as part of the proceedings of the 2014 Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference, April 30 – May 2, 2014, Seattle, Washington. 

2/7/2014

The IEA framework in the Puget Sound Partnership Biennial Science Work Plan

The 2009-2011 Biennial Science Work Plan specifies the use of the IEA framework by the Puget Sound Partnership "to
 refine 
indicators, 
assess 
risks, 
and
 evaluate
 strategies,
 integrating 
marine, 
nearshore, 
and 
terrestrial 
efforts."

2/7/2014

Salish Sea Natural Area Conservation Plan

The Salish Sea Natural Area Conservation Plan is a project of the Natural Areas Conservation Program (NACP) established in 2007 by the Canadian government, which helps non-profit, non-government organizations protect sensitive areas. The process involves selecting biodiversity targets and determining measures of conservation success.

Friday Harbor, San Juan Island. Photo courtesy of NOAA and the Pacific Tides Party.
2/7/2014

San Juan County Best Available Science Synthesis

A summary of data on ecosystems designated as Critical Areas (formerly Environmentally Sensitive Areas) in San Juan County, including recommendations for management.

2/5/2014

Envision Skagit

Envision Skagit is a partnership between Skagit County and various local and regional organizations. The county is using a land use model as a tool to engage the community about natural resource planning and decisions. 

Chinook salmon. Image courtesy of NOAA.
2/5/2014

Lead Entities for salmon recovery in Puget Sound

Lead Entities are local organizations in Puget Sound that develop salmon recovery strategies and priorities for the region on a watershed-based scale.

Submerged marsh in Fisher Slough. Image courtesy of NOAA.
2/5/2014

Floodplains by Design

Floodplains by Design identifies floodplains in Puget Sound with multiple benefit potential and use information on flood risk to inform ecosystem restoration. 

2/4/2014

The Willamette Valley-Puget Trough-Georgia Basin Ecoregional Assessment

The Willamette Valley-Puget Trough-Georgia Basin Ecoregional Assessment considers 833 conservation targets identified by expert teams, proposing that if those targets are represented in an ecoregion, a majority of species, including those which lack data, will be included.

PSNERP logo
2/4/2014

Puget Sound Nearshore Ecosystem Restoration Project

The Puget Sound Nearshore Ecosystem Restoration Project (PSNERP) works to assess the health of Puget Sound nearshore environments and provides strategies for their protection and restoration. 

2/4/2014

Puget Sound Ecosystem Monitoring Program

The Puget Sound Ecosystem monitoring Program (PSEMP) website provides physical, chemical, and biological information from various monitoring programs around Puget Sound and analyzes how well those monitoring programs are meeting the needs of partners, decision-makers, and the public. The Puget Sound Partnership is helping to organize, convene, and support PSEMP. This monitoring program is called for in the Partnership's enabling statute (RCW 90.71.290), the Action Agenda (Near Term Action E.3.1), the Strategic Science Plan, and the Biennial Science Work Plan. 

Fidalgo Bay Aquatic Reserve. Photo courtesy of the Washington Department of Natural Resources.
2/4/2014

Priority Marine Sites for Conservation in the Puget Sound

This 2006 report from the Washington Department of Natural Resources identifies areas of Washington's inland marine waters with high conservation value.

Puget Sound drainage area. Image courtesy of the Washington Department of Ecology.
2/3/2014

Puget Sound Watershed Characterization Project

This project is a coarse-scale, systematic characterization of different areas within the Puget Sound watershed, aimed at providing a framework for land use discussions.

A bald eagle in Padilla Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve. Photo courtesy of NOAA.
2/3/2014

West Coast Governors' Alliance Integrated Ecosystem Assessment

The West Coast Governor's Alliance on Ocean Health, a regional collaboration to protect and manage U.S. West Coast ocean and coastal resources, was launched in September of 2006. This collaboration began an integrated ecosystem assessment (IEA) covering the entire coast, comprised of six regional IEAs (R-IEAs) in Washington, Oregon, and California. The R-IEAs evaluate a range of management objectives and establish “a harmonized set of standards and indicators for ocean health, including metrics for ecological integrity, ecosystem services, and socioeconomic conditions.” 

Photo courtesy of USGS
12/30/2013

Report: Study panel on ecosystem-based management of forage fish in Puget Sound

Forage fish represent a critical link in the Puget Sound food web and help to sustain key species like salmon, marine mammals and sea birds. But the region’s forage fish may be vulnerable on a variety of fronts, according to a new study panel report from the University of Washington Puget Sound Institute. Download the panel's summary and proposed research plan.

10/1/2013

Presentations: 2013 study panel on ecosystem-based management of forage fish in Puget Sound

Download presentations from the Study Panel on Ecosystem-based Management of Forage Fish held August 25, 2013 at the University of Washington’s Friday Harbor Lab, San Juan Island.

8/13/2013

2012 Puget Sound Marine Waters Overview

The Puget Sound Marine Waters 2012 Overview from the Puget Sound Ecosystem Monitoring Program synthesizes conditions measured in 2012 and has been expanded to include observations on seabirds that rely on marine waters. Read an excerpt below, or download the full report.

Puget Sound Marine Waters 2011
9/18/2012

2011 Puget Sound Marine Waters Overview

The Puget Sound Marine Waters 2011 report is now available. The report was produced by the Puget Sound Ecosystem Monitoring Program and assesses the condition and quality of the waters of Puget Sound.