The National Wildlife Federation

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Protecting the Puget Sound

The Puget Sound has an amazing diversity of habitats that support thousands of species of fish and wildlife. However, changes to the landscape and native habitat—primarily as a result of human activity—have put many of these species at risk.

Home to already-imperiled salmon, orcas, and shorebirds, the Puget Sound could be further jeopardized by intensified storms, floods, drought, rising sea levels, and disappearing snowpack brought on by climate change. Such stressors point to the urgent need to restore and protect the land and waters of the Puget Sound.

Communities Taking Action

The future of Puget Sound's environmental landscape increasingly depends on the stewardship of community members. The National Wildlife Federation's Community Wildlife Habitat program addresses these concerns while promoting environmental stewardship, and engaging communities in activities that identify, restore, connect, and protect natural habitat areas that are critical to threatened fish and other wildlife populations.

The National Wildlife Federation's Northern Rockies, Prairie, and Pacific Regional Center is currently working with 25 communities around the Puget Sound to transform backyards, schoolyards, businesses, community gardens, parkland and other spaces into much-needed environmentally-friendly landscapes for wildlife. Projects include stream cleanups, invasive plant removal, and native habitat restoration.

The level of concentrated Community Wildlife Habitat® participation in the Puget Sound basin alone is a celebrated success and a model for communities and regions throughout the country.

Protecting Floodplains

Floodplains are being developed at an alarming rate despite the well documented importance of protecting and restoring these areas for the protection of critically endangered species as well as human health.

The Northern Rockies, Prairies, and Pacific Regional Center is working to significantly increase protection and restoration of floodplain areas to enhance salmon and riparian habitat, improve water quality in Puget Sound, and accommodate increased stormwater resulting from climate change. These changes will have the added benefit of reducing the costs of flood damage, and getting people out of harm's way.

A lawsuit brought by the National Wildlife Federation has already led to important improvements in how the federal government implements its National Flood Insurance Program, which has been primarily responsible for encouraging and subsidizing development in floodplains. The National Wildlife Federation's efforts in Puget Sound are expected to become a model for floodplain improvements throughout the entire country.

Increasing Coastal Climate Resiliency

It is likely the Pacific Northwest coast will have a significant sea level rise by 2100 of between 20 and 56 inches. Among the most vulnerable habitats is estuarine beach, which provides vital spawning areas for forage fish, in turn providing food for birds, marine mammals, salmon, and other fish and wildlife.

Sea Level Rise and Coastal Habitats in the Pacific Northwest investigates the potential impacts of sea level rise on coastal habitats in the Pacific Northwest. In addition to raising awareness of the threat, this report has assisted coastal managers and other relevant decision-makers in identifying and implementing strategies to minimize the risks.

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