Puget Sound recovery leaders travel to D.C., ask for support from Congress

Nearly 60 Puget Sound leaders concerned about the future of the sound traveled to Washington, D.C., early in May to champion protection and recovery efforts that have become a model of innovation and effective partnerships.

A group of Puget Sound Day on the Hill participants met on Capitol Hill with U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., center, to discuss the importance of a healthy Puget Sound to the state’s economy. (Photo courtesy of Puget Sound Partnership.)

The Puget Sound Day on the Hill event, organized annually since 2014 by the Puget Sound Partnership, this year took on particular import as Congress considers a budget proposal to eliminate funding for the Puget Sound Geographic Fund, the National Estuary/Coastal Waterways Program, and the Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund, the mainstays of funding for Puget Sound recovery projects.

Gov. Jay Inslee’s letter (PDF)

“We were trying to make sure that the folks who are 3,000 miles away from us are aware of all the great work that’s happening out here and the fact that there’s tremendous innovation. This is no time to cut critical federal funding that supports this work,” said Sheida Sahandy, Executive Director of the partnership. “We have had lots of fantastic supporters who are still in Congress, and we’re very appreciative of what our congressmen and women do. Through Puget Sound Day on the Hill we hoped to make sure we had the opportunity to communicate even more broadly about all the reasons why there are nationwide benefits to supporting our work.”

Travelers to D.C. represented a broad range of interests: state and local governments, non-profit organizations, Puget Sound treaty tribes, agricultural businesses, and small- and industrial-scale businesses. They carried with them a letter from Gov. Jay Inslee urging “continued support for federal investments that are essential for protecting and restoring the health of our state’s iconic and nationally-significant estuaries.”

In addition, more than 150 individuals and organizations signed a letter supporting the trip and the effort to protect the health of Puget Sound. The ever-growing list of signatories reflects the diversity of support for federal funding for Puget Sound recovery.

“I personally asked each person with whom I met, ‘What can we do to help you protect Puget Sound?’” Sahandy said. “The unanimous answer: Keep doing exactly what you are doing in communicating the Puget Sound Day on the Hill messages.”

More information about Puget Sound Day on the Hill is available on the Puget Sound Partnership’s website, including a link to stories about Puget Sound restoration projects.