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Strickland, Kilmer Advance Legislation to Bolster Federal Support for Puget Sound Restoration (Video Included)

March 25, 2021

Olympia, WA— Congresswoman Marilyn Strickland (WA-10) and Congressman Derek Kilmer (WA-06), the Co-Chairs of the Puget Sound Recovery Caucus, released the following statement after their bill, the Promoting United Government Efforts to Save Our Sound (PUGET SOS) Act of 2021, was marked up, and successfully passed out of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee today. The PUGET SOS Act would enhance the federal government’s role and investment in the Puget Sound, the nation’s largest estuary by volume and the heart of Washington state’s identity and economic engine. (Please find the bill text at this link and Strickland’s remarks in support of the Puget SOS Act at this link.)

“The passage of the PUGET SOS Act out of committee today brings us one step closer to ensuring that the Sound receives the national recognition, federal support, and environmental stewardship it deserves. Puget Sound is a treasure to our region, and our bill is an investment in equity for our tribal communities, Washingtonians, and our entire nation. I thank Chairman DeFazio for bringing this bill up for markup today and look forward to continuing to work with Congressman Kilmer to make our bill into law so that we can heal the Sound for future generations,” said Strickland.

“Puget Sound is our region’s most iconic body of water, a place on which generations of our friends and neighbors have built their lives and made their livelihoods. But if future generations are going to have those opportunities, we've got to take action now to protect and restore the Sound – and we need a strong federal partner in those efforts,” said Kilmer. “That’s why I introduced the PUGET SOS Act with Rep. Strickland - to ensure the federal government steps-up to be the partner that state, tribal, and local entities need to save our Sound – and to assist regional efforts to restore salmon and orca populations, ensure future generations can dig for clams, and uphold tribal treaty rights. I’m proud to see this bill pass out of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure today – and I'll keep pushing to see it become law!”

The PUGET SOS Act helps build a stronger partner in the federal government for critical Puget Sound recovery and restoration efforts in three main ways:

  • First, the bill establishes a Puget Sound Recovery National Program Office in the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to coordinate protection and restoration efforts related to Puget Sound.
  • Second, it codifies the Puget Sound Federal Leadership Task Force, which was first created through a 2016 Memorandum of Understanding by executive action. The Task Force consists of representatives from various agencies that have a role in Puget Sound recovery.
  • Third, the bill authorizes $50 million for five years to carry out the provisions above.

“The Puyallup Tribe appreciates the leadership of Congresswoman Strickland and Congressman Kilmer to improve efforts to better the Puget Sound. The Puget Sound is the lifeblood of our people and our way life depends on it being healthy and safe,” said Bill Sterud, Chairman of the Puyallup Tribal Council.

“The Puget SOS Act recognizes the importance of treaty rights and ensures that tribes have a say in the restoration of this ecosystem. We have been a part of this land and water since time immemorial and our voices must be part of saving it,” said David Iyall, Treasurer of the Nisqually Tribal Council. 

“The Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission applauds Congressman Kilmer and Congresswoman Strickland for their leadership in introducing the PUGET SOS Act,” said Lorraine Loomis, Chair of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission. “The PUGET SOS Act provides an important opportunity to address continued habitat concerns and accelerate efforts in restoring the health of the Puget Sound.  The Act encourages better coordination of state and federal agency work and increases accountability for getting the job done right.  I especially want to acknowledge Congressman Kilmer’s continued engagement with the tribes over the years and his on-going efforts to pass this legislation.  These are the kinds of changes that can truly improve Puget Sound recovery efforts, while also protecting tribal treaty-reserved rights and resources.”

“The PUGET SOS Act will authorize crucial funding for Puget Sound recovery efforts and coordinate federal resources and expertise,” said Laura Blackmore, executive director of the Puget Sound Partnership. “Passage of the PUGET SOS Act would signal Puget Sound’s importance to the economic, environmental, and cultural wellbeing of the nation. With Puget Sound recovery, we don’t have time to wait; this bill helps accelerate and amplify our efforts. I am grateful to Rep. Kilmer and Rep. Strickland for their commitment and leadership to ensure a healthy and resilient Puget Sound.”

“The PUGET SOS Act is an important step forward for the restoration of Puget Sound and the well-being of millions of people that depend on it,” said Mike Stevens, Washington state Director for The Nature Conservancy. “This legislation would bring much-needed resources to address pollution, flooding, inequitable access to clean water and other challenges facing our region. We are grateful to Reps. Kilmer and Strickland for championing Puget Sound recovery and for introducing this proposal to both coordinate federal and state recovery efforts and protect tribal treaty rights. These are all crucial components for creating a more resilient and sustainable future for the region.”

“Now more than ever we need the federal government to resume its vital role in the protection and recovery of Puget Sound and the Salish Sea. Coordination among our federal leaders and agencies means our region has a chance for the clean water and healthy habitats that are vital to our people, tribal nations, nature, and communities--this bill is an investment in our environment and a livable planet for future generations,” said Alyssa Macy, CEO of Washington Environmental Council/Washington Conservation Voters.

The Puget Sound Recovery Caucus, founded in 2013 and currently co-chaired by Reps. Marilyn Strickland and Derek Kilmer, focuses on recovering Puget Sound through steps like preventing pollution from urban stormwater runoff, protecting and restoring habitat, and restoring and re-opening shellfish beds.

Congresswoman Marilyn Strickland serves as a Member of the House Armed Services Committee and the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. She is one of the first Korean-American women elected to Congress and the first African-American to represent the Pacific Northwest at the federal level.