Strategic Initiative Leads for the Stormwater Strategic Initiative, along with hundreds of recovery partners from across the Sound, have been working hard to develop the next series of Implementation Strategies. As of the summer 2019, work continues on completing new Strategies meant to reduce toxics in fish, improve stream health and freshwater quality, and reduce the humans contribution of depleted oxygen in marine waters. While these three implementation strategies are targeting those vital signs (TIF, BIBI) implementation and adaptive management on the existing IS continues.

The Implementation Strategy program is continuing work to better connect and “network” the strategies and actions to achieve multi-benefit, cross-cutting outcomes by asking the question, “Where can we identify fewer, more impactful actions that will lead to multiple positive outcomes across the Sound?”

Shifting toward a more networked approach is the next iteration of the Implementation Strategies program, and an expression of the principles of Adaptive Management in action.  Current efforts support taking an ecosystem perspective by integrating work across Vital Signs and ISs that are under development and preparing the scientific basis required for future Implementation Strategies. Work will be connected across ISs and IS-related activities so that Vital Sign and indicator-specific activities, planning, and findings resonate at broader geographic and political scales to affect ecosystem recovery and ensure maximum impact of regional strategies, plans, and reports.



Implementation Strategies (Strategies) are plans for accelerating progress toward the 2020 ecosystem recovery targets for the Puget Sound Vital Signs. The Strategies are developed collaboratively with technical, professional, and policy experts and with local and regional input. An overview of the Strategies is available at the Encyclopedia of Puget Sound website.

Each Strategy accomplishes the following

  • Identifies priority near-term (4-6 years) approaches—including strategies, actions, and program and policy changes—for achieving a specific recovery target
  • Identifies priority pressures affecting the associated Vital Sign and key barriers to achieving the recovery target
  • Identifies key uncertainties and associated research and monitoring priorities
  • Identifies adaptive management elements, processes, and decision makers
  • Identifies benefits or trade-offs to human wellbeing
  • Identifies key geographic areas associated with the recovery target
  • Estimates the costs of putting recovery priorities into practice
  • Assesses and combines elements of local and regional recovery efforts, ongoing programs, Near Term Actions from the Puget Sound Action Agenda, and results from the Puget Sound Pressure Assessment
  • Builds on existing knowledge and lessons learned from previous and current recovery efforts

Implementation Strategies are developed by use of a results-based (adaptive) management framework for Puget Sound recovery. This framework is founded on the Open Standards for the Practice of Conservation. LEARN MORE

The following Strategies, currently being implemented or are ready for implementation:

  • Estuaries
  • Shellfish beds
  • Floodplains
  • Land development and cover
  • Eelgrass
  • Chinook salmon
  • Shoreline armoring

The following Strategies are currently under development in 2019:

  • Benthic Index of Biotic Integrity (B-IBI) (one of three indicators for the Freshwater Quality Vital Sign)
  • Toxics in fish

Based on the Regional Priorities defined by the Leadership Council for the 2018-2022 Action Agenda, the next Vital Sign to be addressed by an Implementation Strategy is Summer Stream Flows. Preparatory work on this Vital Sign has begun, including the compilation of existing Vital Sign-related and other Puget Sound-wide planning and analysis products that will form the technical basis for the IS, will be used as reference throughout IS content development, and will likely serve as references for future updates to the IS.

Additionally, adaptive management of existing implementation strategies will look include more connections among existing strategies, ongoing Near Term Actions, and ongoing programs that are working to support Puget Sound recovery.


The first five Strategies were developed under the leadership of the Partnership with support from the EPA and the Puget Sound Institute (PSI). Following lessons learned from the first Implementation Strategy pilot project, which addressed the recovery target for the Eelgrass Vital Sign, the Partnership convened interdisciplinary teams (IDTs) of partners from 2015-2016 to develop four more Implementation Strategies addressing recovery targets for estuaries, shellfish beds, floodplains, and land development and cover. This Partnership-led team also produced common guidelines for developing new Strategies.

As the EPA’s Puget Sound National Estuary Program has shifted to relying more heavily on Implementation Strategies to guide investments in Puget Sound recovery, the Habitat, Shellfish, and Stormwater Strategic Initiative (SI) Leads have taken on greater responsibility for managing Implementation Strategies. SI Lead duties include:

  • Developing new Strategies
  • Completing existing Strategies
  • Adaptively managing all Strategies within the purview of the SI Leads.

As the regional recovery organization for salmon, the Partnership continues to lead and manage development of the Chinook Salmon Implementation Strategy.

The SI Leads are supported by the Partnership, the Puget Sound Institute (PSI), the EPA and many other partners in developing, reviewing, and updating the Strategies. The Partnership and PSI ensure that Strategy development is consistent enough to support cross-Strategy integration and that Strategies are grounded in sound science.

Additional information on the Implementation Strategies and Strategic Initiatives is coming soon from the SI Leads.

How are Lead Integrating Organizations involved in Strategy development?

The Local Integrating Organizations (LIOs) provide important content to the Strategies in the following ways:

  • Participate in Strategy development, which is a collaborative undertaking.
  • Provide LIO ecosystem recovery plans. The plans are instrumental in providing watershed-specific context to the developing Strategy.


Implementation Strategies for the Shoreline Armoring and Chinook Salmon Vital Signs were released in 2018 and contain information and strategies that are ready for implementation. In 2019, three new Strategies are currently under development, with updates underway for partially completed strategies.

Marine Water Quality

With support from the Stormwater Strategic Initiative, Dustin Bilhimer, the Puget Sound Nutrient Source Reduction Project Manager with the Department of Ecology, is guiding the development of an Implementation Strategy targeted at the marine water quality vital sign indicator for dissolved oxygen in marine waters. Along with informing discussions in the Puget Sound Nutrient Forum this Implementation Strategy aims to address the human impacts on the amount of dissolved oxygen in marine waters. Together, the Marine Water Quality IS and the Puget Sound Nutrient Source Reduction Project look to address questions such as what actions are needed to reduce nutrients, where, and by how much.

Fresh Water Quality (B-IBI) and Toxics in Fish

The Stormwater SI Lead is guiding development of Strategies to address the Benthic Index of Biotic Integrity (B-IBI) indicator for the Freshwater Quality Vital Sign, as well as the 2020 indicator target for Toxics in Fish Vital Sign.

For more information, contact Gary Myers,, Implementation Strategy Lead for the Stormwater Strategic Initiative at the Department of Ecology.


Partially complete Strategies

The following four partially complete Strategies will be further developed in coming years to inform Action Agenda, Science Work Plan and other planning and funding decisions.

Contact the leads for these Strategies for more information:


Strategies associated with the Habitat Strategic Initiative:

Strategies associated with the Shellfish Strategic Initiative:

Strategies associated with the Stormwater Strategic Initiative:

Strategies managed by the Puget Sound Partnership

Additional information about the Strategies and related Puget Sound recovery efforts is managed and publicly available in Miradi Share™, an online database that supports development, monitoring, and sharing of information among conservation practitioners, project and program managers, and funders. Miradi project files for all completed Strategies are available in the links below. A free user account for Miradi Share is required to view projects. Request a free account at, and contact Kari Stiles at for access to Puget Sound content.



Complete Implementation Strategies include the following elements, generated with input from partners and reviewed by technical experts:

  • A narrative with supporting appendices (tables, diagrams, references, and other materials) to describe in detail the component pieces of the Strategy
  • A situation analysis (and conceptual model) that evaluates and documents assumptions about the recovery context, priority pressures, and the current conditions of the Vital Sign
  • Detailed results chains, or theories of change, representing the sequenced steps resulting from strategy implementation and measures to track progress toward recovery
  • A schematic diagram identifying priority recovery pathways to recovery and key outcomes needed to make progress toward the 2020 targets
  • Lists of priority approaches including strategies, actions, programs and policy changes, and research and monitoring needs
  • Estimated costs of implementing priority approaches
  • Key decision points, processes, responsibilities and needs related to adaptive management of the Strategy


The Strategies will support decision making and provide guidance on the types of priority actions needed to make progress toward the Vital Sign targets.

Priorities for Near Term Actions in the 2016 Action Agenda update were informed by the Strategies for the Estuaries and Shellfish Beds Vital Sign indicators. The 2018 Action Agenda will be informed by the following:

  • Updates to the Strategies for estuaries and shellfish beds
  • New Strategies addressing Floodplains and Land Development and Cover Vital Sign targets
  • Any additional Strategies completed in time for the Action Agenda update planning cycle. These could include Strategies addressing shoreline armoring, Chinook salmon, B-IBI, and toxics in fish.

Information from nine recently completed LIO Ecosystem Recovery Plans is also informing Strategy development and updates and will be used for 2018 Acton Agenda priority-setting.


Strategic Initiatives (prevent pollution from urban stormwater, protect and restore habitat, and protect and recover shellfish beds) are regional priorities that have been emphasized in the Action Agenda since 2012. The Strategic Initiatives help direct spending and resources and guide the Partnership’s work with partners to increase funding, seek policy changes, report successes and challenges, and educate and engage people in the recovery effort. By contrast, an Implementation Strategy is a strategic plan designed to help meet a specific 2020 Vital Sign indicator target. Each Strategy is nested within one or more Strategic Initiatives.


Sequencing of Strategy development has included the application of criteria selected with feedback from partners, stakeholders, tribal natural resource directors, and the Partnership’s Leadership Council, Science Panel, Salmon Recovery Board, and Ecosystem Coordination Board. The criteria consider the following:

  • Ecosystem benefits
  • Alignment with funding and planning cycles
  • Applicability at the regional and local scale
  • Urgency for addressing the topic
  • Feasibility
  • Confidence in the targets set for Vital Sign indicators

A process for selecting the next set of Strategies for development and identifying opportunities for grouping Strategies to improve strategy effectiveness and management efficiency is currently under development. The Partnership and PSI will work with the SI Leads and other partners to build and improve on the above criteria for future decision making about IS sequencing and management.


We anticipate that, over time, at least one Strategy, and possibly more, will address each Vital Sign that has a defined recovery target. It remains to be seen whether there will need to be a separate planning effort for each Vital Sign, given that many Vital Signs usually benefit from actions focused on related Vital Signs.

Contact: Mike Johnson, Environmental Planner and Implementation Strategy Manager,