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Sound saviors list specific goals

Grassroots organizations are unique in that, whatever the goals, their momentum is fueled by passion and unwavering resolve.

People for Puget Sound is one such organization whose influence has only increased in velocity since Kathy Fletcher formed the group in 1991 to protect and restore the Sound and the Northwest Straits.

Fletcher visited Coupeville last month to informally discuss with receptive and like-minded attendees local and regional environmental issues. People for Puget Sound and other groups are supporting the state’s 2020 benchmark for restoring health to the expansive body of water.

Although certain sections will require more intense conservation efforts, People For Puget Sound’s executive director said the focus is restoring the entire sound to a level in which its habitats can support the varieties of plant and animal species.

Fletcher’s organization has pooled its resources together with The Nature Conservancy and the Trust for Public Lands in intense efforts not only to protect shorelines but also to ensure public access and to perform restoration. The trio pursues its efforts as The Alliance For Puget Sound Shorelines.

Some organizations become mired in empty exposition without ever graduating to the “doing” stage.

People For Puget Sound and The Alliance have set goals specifically for shorelines, planning to make operational 10 new shoreline parks, restore 100 miles of shoreline, and protect 1,000 miles of the valuable resource through enhanced regulations.

According to Fletcher, Puget Sound is home for myriad creatures above and below the water. From the purple shore Crab, to great blue heron, to Christmas sea anemones, the population spans every level of the food chain.

“Everything needs something to eat,” Fletcher said. “And everything has a home.”

The current shoreline report card is less than auspicious. Forage fish, fish spawning habitat, native vegetation, clean water and sediment are all on the verge of flunking. Feeder bluffs, and debris and trees, are barely holding on with a “C” average.

“When you destroy a creature’s home through habitat destruction or water pollution, you harm the entire ecosystem’s balance, Fletcher said. “Damage to baitfish spawning beaches reduces the number of small fish larger fish and sea birds have to eat.”

And destruction of salmon spawning rivers equates to less salmon on the orcas’ menu. Toxic chemical pollution, Fletcher added, is transferred up the food chain from plankton, to small fish, to salmon, and ultimately to the beloved and locally-revered whales.

While the state of Puget Sound may be dire in some sections, considerable efforts are under way to reverse the damage and restore the beautiful area to a state of balance.

The state’s oft-discussed Puget Sound Partnership is working to develop an action agenda and funding plan to meet the lofty challenge of creating a healthy sound by 2020. The many environmentally-minded and water worshipping Whidbey residents are encouraged to participate in the process.

For more information on People For Puget Sound or restoration efforts, call 360-336-1931 or go to www.pugetsound.org.

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