Overarching, Large-Scale Protection and Restoration Strategies

Here we focus on strategies that address broad-scale impacts in Puget Sound. We discuss perhaps the two must ubiquitous drivers, human footprint and climate change, recognizing that all other strategies must be imbedded within the context of these ultimate drivers. This review concentrates on publications that focus on Puget Sound, or at least the Pacific Northwest, including: Clancy et al. (2009), Climate Impacts Group (2009), Hulse, Gregory, and Baker (2002), Lombard (2006), Montgomery et al. (2003), and Ruckelshaus and McClure (2007). It is our hope that future versions of this document include lessons learned from other large-scale protection and restoration efforts in the U.S. that have analogous processes or properties.

1. Ultimate Drivers: Human Footprint and Climate Change

In coming decades, the key drivers of ecological change for the Puget Sound ecosystem will be the likely increasing size of the human footprint (a function of both the region’s growing population and per capita impacts) and climate change. To acknowledge these external driving factors, we propose that the overall strategy to protect and restore the Puget Sound ecosystem be guided by three broad principles:

1. Many valuable mitigation actions address impacts from both human footprint and future climate. Many of the most valuable actions to mitigate the impacts of climate change are also among the most valuable actions to reduce per capita impacts of the human footprint; the rationale for action therefore does not depend on predictions of climate change, but is strengthened by the potential to provide multiple benefits (Whitely Binder et al. 2009).

2. Increasing resilience of the ecosystem will allow ecological functions to continue in the face of climate change, increased weather extremes and other stressors (Whitely Binder et al. 2009).

3. Principles of adaptive management are important components of protection and restoration actions in general.

To address the threats posed by climate change (See Chapter 3 of the PSSU), specific actions for Puget Sound proposed by the Climate Impacts Group (CIG 2009) could improve ecological functioning and increase the resilience of the ecosystem to other stresses from regional population growth. These actions are included in the PSP Action Agenda (PSP 2008), and include reducing water demand, restoring riparian areas, protecting and restoring off-channel habitats in floodplains, maximizing stormwater infiltration, expanding or adjusting protected areas to induce greater habitat and climatic diversity to permit successful shifts in species distributions and prevent new development on beaches and bluffs likely to be threatened by sea level rise.

2. Puget Sound Protection and Restoration Strategies

At the landscape scale, the priority strategies identified in the PSP Action Agenda include those from the Puget Sound Salmon Recovery Plan for the watersheds, estuaries and nearshore habitats, and fall under 4 main categories: Protection of intact ecosystem processes, restoration of ecosystem processes that are no longer intact, prevention of water pollution at its source and working together as a coordinated system (Shared Strategy 2007, PSP 2008).

General principles for implementing site-specific protection and restoration strategies include understanding the physical setting for the proposed action (Buffington et al. 2003, Bolton et al. 2003), prioritizing protection of highly functioning habitats over restoration of damaged ones, focusing on both the protection and restoration of habitat forming processes and connectivity (Clancy et al. 2009) and treating protection and restoration actions as experiments with explicit, testable hypotheses and monitoring to assess their effectiveness.

Landscape protection strategies can include two different approaches: focusing growth away from ecologically important and sensitive areas, and permanently protecting intact areas that still function well, both of which are included in the PSP’s approach (Neuman et al. 2009). The strategy of focusing growth away from ecologically important and sensitive areas was found to be important for achieving ecological goals over longer (50 year) time scales by Hulse et al. (2002) in the Willamette River basin. Parametrix (2003) also found that this strategy was critical for achieving ecological goals over long timeframes at smaller scales, such as the 16-square-mile basin of Chico Creek, on the Kitsap Peninsula. Both studies found that growth in rural areas—how much occurs and where—was particularly important for the larger ecosystem.

As a supplement to the strategy of permanently protecting areas that still function well, the literature supports including key areas for habitat-forming processes, even those which are not currently intact. Acquisition of property is an effective strategy for permanent protection (Clancy et al. 2009), however it not always feasible across the entire scale where protection and restoration are needed. Additional strategies, including restoration and regulation can supplement the benefits of protection and achieve ecological functioning across larger scales (Lombard 2006).

Funding large scale ecosystem restoration

Numerous studies have stressed the importance of a stable source of funding for large-scale ecosystem restoration. Adler, Michele, and Green (2000) state that “funding stability is as important as absolute funding levels.” They go on to suggest that “Congress should consider establishing longer-term funding arrangements for watershed and other environmental programs that must be designed and implemented over long periods of time.” Similarly, NRC (2008) found that “The executive and legislative branches of the federal government should consider departing from traditional project-by-project review, authorization and yearly funding to benefit both the [Everglades project] and other multi-component ecosystem restoration projects across the nation.” The Everglades project appears to be a particularly acute cautionary example warning against too great a dependence on the federal government for support of large-scale restoration. Beyond problems caused by delays and unpredictability in federal authorizations, NRC (2008) found that “... the most serious cause ...” of overall delays was the “... complex and lengthy…planning and authorization process ...” mandated by Congress for each individual project.


The broad definition of “regulation” in Montgomery, Booth, and Bolton (2003) includes incentives, noting that incentives are intended to address conflicts between public costs or benefits and those of private decision-makers. More generally, these are instances of what economists call an “externality, ” which is when a purchase or use decision by one set of parties has effects on others who do not have a choice in the decision and whose interests are therefore generally not taken into account. Economic production that pollutes air or water is the classic example of a negative environmental externality, but externalities can also be positive. Agricultural practices certified as “Salmon-Safe,” for example, benefit water quality and salmon populations (and, therefore, the wider public that values them), yet the public provides no compensation for these benefits. The predictable result is that too much economic activity occurs with negative externalities and too little with positive externalities.

A.C. Pigou is generally recognized as the first major economist to grapple seriously with the problem of internalizing environmental externalities (Pigou 1932—originally published in 1920). Today, the fields of resource, environmental and ecological economics all address this problem, although from different perspectives (Tietenberg 2006; Daly and Farley 2004). Pigou (1932) proposed a tax equal to the marginal external cost as the seemingly simple solution to the problem of negative environmental externalities. However, identifying an actual value for marginal external costs is extremely challenging, even though numerous methodologies have been developed to do so (see, for example, Freeman 2003)1 . Ecological economics argues that instead of spending enormous efforts to calculate the “correct” value of negative or positive environmental externalities, we should act on our knowledge that the price of zero currently attributed to them is incorrect and work to implement and improve policies that address this key deficiency (Daly and Farley 2004).

In the Puget Sound area, Lombard (2006) suggests the possibility of using a tax or fee to address negative environmental externalities from water withdrawals, our transportation system, discharge of pollutants, and landscape-scale environmental consequences from growth. He also suggests that revenues could help fund programs to reward landowners for ecological services from their land that currently go uncompensated. This could include providing more “space” for rivers, the nearshore, and other key places on the landscape for ecological processes. No analysis has been performed to estimate the effects these taxes and fees would likely have on the amount of these activities.

1 More details on economic valuation of ecosystem services await the separate chapter on socio-economic strategies expected to be added to this section in a future update.

3. References

Adler, R., S. Michele, and H. Green. 2000. Lessons from Large Watershed Programs: A Comparison of the Colorado River Basin Salinity Control Program with the San Francisco Bay-Delta Program, Central and South Florida, and the Chesapeake Bay Program. National Academy of Public Administration, Center for the Economy and the Environment, Washington, DC.

Bolton, S., D.B. Booth, and D.R. Montgomery.2003. Restoration of Puget Sound Rivers: Do We Know How to Do It? In D.B. Montgomery, S. Bolton, D.R. Booth, and L. Wall (eds.), Restoration of Puget Sound Rivers, University of Washington Press, Seattle, WA, pp.483-490.

Buffington, J.M., R.D. Woodsmith, D.B. Booth, and D.R. Montgomery. 2003. Fluvial Processes in Puget Sound Rivers and the Pacific Northwest. In D.B. Montgomery, S. Bolton, D.R. Booth, and L. Wall (eds.), Restoration of Puget Sound Rivers, University of Washington Press, Seattle, WA, pp.46-78.

Clancy, M., I. Logan, J. Lowe, J. Johannessen, A. MacLennan, F.B. Van Cleve, J. Dillon, B. Lyons, R. Carman, P. Cereghino, B. Barnard, C. Tanner, D. Myers, R. Clark, J. White, C. Simenstad, M. Gilmer, and N. Chin. 2009. Management Measures for Protecting and Restoring the Puget Sound Nearshore. Technical Report 2009-01. Prepared in support of the Puget Sound Nearshore Ecosystem Restoration Project, Seattle, WA.

Clark, W., R. Mitchell, D. Cash, F. Alcock.2002. Information as Influence: How Institutions Mediate the Impact of Scientific Assessments on Global Environmental Affairs. John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA.

Climate Impacts Group. 2009. The Washington Climate Change Impacts Assessment. M.M Elsner, J. Littell, and L.W. Binder (eds.). Center for Science in the Earth System, Joint Institute for the Study of Atmosphere and Oceans, University of Washington, Seattle, WA.

Freeman, A.M. 2003. The Measurement of Environmental and Resource Values: Theory and Methods, Second Edition, Resources for the Future, Washington, D.C.

Hulse, D., S. Gregory, and J. Baker. 2002. Willamette River Basin Planning Atlas: Trajectories of Environmental and Ecological Change. Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR.

Lombard, J. 2006. Saving Puget Sound: A Conservation Strategy for the 21st Century. American Fisheries Society and University of Washington Press, Bethesda, MD.

Montgomery, D.R., D.B. Booth, and S. Bolton. 2003. Puget Sound Rivers and Salmon Recovery. In D.B. Montgomery, S. Bolton, D.R. Booth, and L. Wall (eds.), Restoration of Puget Sound Rivers, University of Washington Press, Seattle, WA, pp.1-13.

Montgomery, D.R., S. Bolton, D.B. Booth, and L. Wall (eds.).2003. Restoration of Puget Sound Rivers. University of Washington Press, Seattle, WA.

Mote, P., A. Petersen, S. Reeder, H. Shipman, and L. Whitely-Binder.2008. Sea Level Rise in the Coastal Waters of Washington State. A report by the University of Washington Climate Impacts Group and the University of Washington Department of Oceanography, Seattle, WA.

National Research Council (NRC).2008. Progress Toward Restoring the Everglades: The Second Biennial Review – 2008. National Academies Press, Washington, DC .

Neuman, M., D. St. John, J. Knauer, and N. Salafsky. 2009. Using results chains to develop objectives and performance measures for the 2008 Action Agenda. Puget Sound Partnership, Olympia, WA.

Parametrix. 2003. Chico Watershed Alternatives Analysis: Process and Recommendations. Prepared for the Kitsap County Department of Community Development, Lacey, WA.

Pigou, A.C. 1932. The Economics of Welfare. Fourth Edition. MacMillan, London.

Puget Sound Partnership. 2008. Puget Sound Action Agenda, Protecting and Restoring the Puget Sound Ecosystem by 2020. Olympia.

Ruckelshaus, M.H. and M.M. McClure. 2007. Sound Science: Synthesizing Ecological and Socioeconomic Information about the Puget Sound Ecosystem. Prepared in cooperation with the Sound Science collaborative team. U.S. Dept of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NMFS), Northwest Fisheries Science Center, Seattle, WA.

Shared Strategy for the Puget Sound. 2007. Puget Sound Salmon Recovery Plan. Seattle, WA.

Tietenberg, T. 2006. Environmental and Natural Resource Economics. Seventh Edition. Pearson Addison Wesley. San Francisco, CA