The goal of this chapter is to review the potential ecosystem protection and restoration strategies investigated in past scientific research, assess how they can positively affect the biophysical condition of the greater Puget Sound ecosystem and summarize how the strategies can be applied to reduce threats to recovery of the Puget Sound ecosystem. This chapter covers strategies for both protecting resources that remain healthy as well as rehabilitating impaired natural resources. We emphasize the importance of concentrating on determining the level of effectiveness of the candidate strategies based on scientific research, as well as the relative certainty associated with their reported effectiveness.

We reviewed the background and evaluated the relative scientific basis for the effectiveness of the most promising and well-substantiated strategies as well as relevant strategies that hold promise for the future. We included placeholders for both established and future strategies that were not covered. Socioeconomic strategies for Puget Sound ecosystem protection and restoration were touched upon briefly but can be expanded in future iterations of the Puget Sound Science Update.

We particularly focus on identifying strategies that reduce multiple threats to the ecosystem by linking the strategies to their threat reduction objectives under the description of each strategy. Although we do not make recommendations for the application of certain strategies relative to others, we do include a proposed evaluation process that can be used as a to compare attributes and relative cost-effectiveness of different strategies.

We define a protection and restoration strategy as any action that will protect, restore, or improve the functional well-being of the natural Puget Sound ecosystem. Identifying a strategy requires identifying a goal or goals, identifying possible actions (choices) to achieve the goal, evaluating the likely success of those actions, and deciding on a relatively complete set of actions.

Protection and restoration strategies are strongly characterized by elements of variable scale (e.g., geographic, institutional, temporal), complexity, technical application and degrees of overlap.

1. Organization

Because of the complex, dynamic, and interconnected nature of ecosystems and how they interrelate with human institutional systems and practical aspects of physical, on-the-ground application, protection and restoration strategies do not fall into neat categories. Therefore our chapters are organized according to how the strategies will be implemented. First, in Section 2 we address the overarching principles for protection and restoration strategies and review broad strategies that, by their nature, apply generally across the landscape, such as land protection and flow protection. In Section 3 we review protection and restoration strategies that apply to the physical, chemical, and ecological functions of streams, tributaries, and watershed habitat quality. We address in Section 4 strategies that directly influence the ecology and habitats of Puget Sound proper, its estuaries, and shorelines. In Section 5, we review strategies that directly apply to the recovery of fish and wildlife populations. In each section, we provide background regarding the strategy, its application in Puget Sound, and its scientifically supportable effectiveness, recognizing the multitude of strategies and topics that were not covered in this first iteration of the PSSU.

A systematic approach is required for decision-makers to understand the relationships among different types and scales of protection and restoration strategies and for gauging the effectiveness of the various strategies. There is also a need distinguish among strategies that already known to be effective, those that need additional research and those for which there is promise but little information. Therefore, in Section 6 we propose a system for organizing, and ultimately rating different strategies.

We do not address specific implementation or monitoring requirements. On-site applications of protection and restoration measures are decided at the federal, state, tribal, and local levels. Importantly, systems for monitoring the relative success of various protection and restoration strategies must be implemented to provide an information feedback loop needed to evaluate relative success of the measures.