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Puget Sound protection efforts get nearly $13 million boost from EPA science grants

Release Date: 09/08/2010
Contact Information: Michael Rylko, EPA Watersheds & Puget Sound Partnership, (206) 553-4014, rylko.michael@epa.gov Tony Brown, EPA Public Affairs, (206) 553-1203, brown.anthony@epa.gov

Congressman Norm Dicks and Congressman Adam Smith join with EPA to announce science grants and unveil new plans for Puget Sound Research Institute in Tacoma

(Seattle—Sept. 8, 2010) Regional efforts to protect and restore Puget Sound will receive a $13 million helping hand, thanks to the latest round of federal science grants from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Congressman Norm Dicks and Congressman Adam Smith joined EPA Regional Administrator Dennis McLerran at an event marking the grant announcement today at the Pierce County Environmental Services Building in University Place, just south of Tacoma. Also speaking at the event were Gregg Grunenfelder, Assistant Secretary of the Division of Environmental Health at the Washington State Department of Health; James Slape Jr., Nisqually Tribe Councilmember; and Dr. Joel Baker from the University of Washington (Tacoma).

Since 2006, EPA has dedicated $71.4 million as part of its ongoing initiative to protect and restore Puget Sound ecosystem health. EPA’s science grant funding, dedicated to state agencies, local municipalities and environmental groups, are helping expand and deepen scientific knowledge of Puget Sound.

Today’s event showcased a $676,309 grant the Washington State Department of Health will receive to support studies in Cormorant Passage in South Puget Sound. The grant will fund a shellfish resource survey, pollution source evaluation, a human health assessment, and circulation/dilution modeling, with the goal of identifying what portions of the study area could be potentially opened for shellfish harvest.

According to Dennis McLerran, Regional Administrator for the EPA, science must be at the heart of all efforts to restore and protect the Sound.

“To solve environmental problems, you need two key ingredients: the best science and tireless teamwork,” said McLerran. “Funding for applied technical studies and related investigations is crucial to helping make Puget Sound healthy again.”

The grant recipients include state and federal governments and non-profit groups, some which will be conducting collaborative studies with tribes and communities. In addition, regional information-sharing and databases play a key role in many of these projects, which will create a more comprehensive understanding of Puget Sound science.

The grants will fund science initiatives to:

  • Study the effects of industrial contaminants on Puget Sound salmon
  • Create innovative research and data-sharing tools in the region
  • Identify and monitor local sources of contamination
  • Study human stresses on vulnerable areas of Puget Sound
  • Protect local beaches and the productivity of shellfish beds
  • Examine the condition of the Puget Sound pelagic food web
  • Protect wetlands and watersheds from development

The event will also debut a new study center at the University of Washington Tacoma. Through a cooperative assistance agreement with the U.S. EPA, the University of Washington will establish the Puget Sound Institute (PSI). The core mission of the Puget Sound Institute is to foster vigorous, balanced, relevant, and timely analysis, review, synthesis, and integration of environmental information, thereby insuring that the best possible science informs the restoration and preservation of Puget Sound.

Among the other grant recipients were the Washington Department of Ecology; King County; the U.S. Geological Survey, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and Battelle - Pacific Northwest Laboratory.

For a list of Puget Sound grant funding recipients: http://yosemite.epa.gov/R10/ecocomm.nsf/puget+sound/funding-recipients

For an interactive map of Puget Sound grants: http://www.epa.gov/region10/map/funding/pugetsound_funding_map.html

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