Office of Governor Gary Locke
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - July 9, 2003
Contact: Michael Marchand, Governor’s Communications Office, 360-902-4136;
Alt Contact: Mary Getchell, Puget Sound Action Team, 360-407-7312;
Gov. Locke Highlights Puget Sound Environmental Efforts, Lauds Work of Local HeroesGov. Gary Locke today highlighted recent efforts to improve the health of Puget Sound and recognized the many people who selflessly give their time to help protect and restore the environment.
Joining the governor at the news conference were Brad Ack, chair of the Puget Sound Action Team; Tom Fitzsimmons, director of the Washington State Department of Ecology; and local volunteers and individuals who assist conservation and protection efforts.
“Earlier this year, I called for better protection of the Puget Sound’s orca population, approving funding for a rescue tug and strengthening the marine protection component of our state’s salmon strategy,” said Locke. “I am proud that we have been able to take action on all of these items.”
In February, the governor stressed the need for Puget Sound conservation objectives and the initiation of additional protection and restoration efforts. The result was the passage of important legislative measures including:
·Funding for a rescue tug at Neah Bay, which will protect the Sound from oil spills for the next two years;
·Funding that allows the state’s Department of Fish and Wildlife to identify and address the serious decrease in the Puget Sound region’s marine bird populations; and
·Legislation banning various products that contain mercury, which is toxic to the region’s fish and waterfowl.
“Even in an era of diminishing financial resources, the governor and the Legislature have found ways to support our state’s natural resources,” Fitzsimmons said. “Puget Sound needs our commitment and our vigilance.”
Locke also took time to thank the conservation work being done by volunteers at the local level.
“Every day, thousands of dedicated volunteers help keep Puget Sound’s environment clean and healthy,” Locke said. “These local heroes are vital to conserving Puget Sound’s spectacular and wonderful web of life.”
Local volunteers in attendance included:
·Betsy Peabody and Geoff Menzies, who help people grow gardens of shellfish in Whatcom and Thurston counties;
·Susan Berta, who built a network of volunteers at the Orca Network to track and publicize critical and timely information about whales in the Sound and Georgia Strait; and
·Leslie Banigan, who works with the Kitsap County Health District and serves part-time to help clean up streams and shorelines across the county.
“The dedication and commitment of these local heroes and their grassroots action are essential to helping us save the Sound today and for future generations,” Ack said.
While a number of Puget Sound environmental issues have been addressed, the governor acknowledged that there is more work that can and must be done.
“It is important that we remain strategic and focused on a common agenda of restoring critical habitat and species, preventing and cleaning up toxic contamination and better managing storm water and sewage,” Locke said.
The governor stated that he would further discuss these issues in a meeting today with the Puget Sound Action Team. Ack will chair the meeting and Fitzsimmons will also participate.
“Puget Sound is a great natural resource. It is our responsibility to treat it as such,” Locke said.