Monitoring to Accelerate Recovery


The Puget Sound Partnership (Partnership) funds projects every biennium that address priority monitoring information needs to inform and accelerate the recovery of Puget Sound. Projects are funded via a formal project solicitation process. All projects are expected to support the objectives of the Puget Sound Ecosystem Monitoring Program (PSEMP) strategic plan to increase collaboration, support adaptive management of Puget Sound recovery efforts, and improve communication to improve access to credible information to guide recovery decisions.

Announcing apparent successful project proposals for the Monitoring to Accelerate Recovery Request for Information (RFI #2023-163 posted on WEBS January 24, 2023)

For the 2023-25 biennium, the Puget Sound Partnership (Partnership) requested project proposals that address priority monitoring information needs to inform and accelerate recovery of Puget Sound under the Monitoring to Accelerate Recovery Request for Information (RFI #2023-163) to allocate up to $750,000.

We are pleased to announce the following six apparent successful projects:

Respondent name Affiliation Title Requested budget

Kathryn Meyer


Developing groundfish and benthic invertebrate Vital Sign indicators for Puget Sound using bottom trawl survey data spanning 36 years.


Jude Apple

Padilla Bay NERR/ Dept of Ecology

Puget Sound Phytoplankton/Primary Productivity Vital Sign Indicator Development - Phase 2: Data Synthesis


Jim Johannessen

Coastal Geologic Services, Inc.

Shoreline Armoring Trends to Inform Beaches and Marine Vegetation Vital Sign Indicators in Puget Sound, WA.


Michael LeMoine

Skagit River System Cooperative

Monitoring and evaluating adaptive management strategies at two restoration projects in the Skagit Delta


Gary Slater

Ecostudies Institute

Operationalizing the Salish Sea Estuaries Avian Monitoring Framework


Jenny L. Atkinson

The Whale Museum

Development of Robust Estimate of Orca (Orcinus orca) Occupancy in Puget Sound


The selected projects are referred to here as apparent successful because they will not be considered fully successful until contracts are in place.

We would like to thank the Puget Sound Ecosystem Monitoring Program (PSEMP) Steering Committee members, PSEMP Work Group Leads, and Partnership staff colleagues who contributed their time and perspective as members of the Evaluation Panel.

We are excited about this newest cohort of projects and look forward to working with all the project teams in implementing the projects!

For more information about the proposals or the solicitation process, please contact Nathalie Hamel,

Projects funded in 2021-2023

Original project solicitation: 2021-2023 Monitoring to Accelerate Recovery.

Monitoring to Accelerate Recovery Projects for July 2021-June 2023

Project title Description Project team Category

Developing zooplankton Puget Sound Vital Sign indicators

This project involves hosting a collaborative workshop, compiling existing zooplankton data, and providing the first report of status and trends of Puget Sound zooplankton indicators to the Puget Sound Partnership.

Latest Update: Workshop summary report

Julie Keister, Bethel-Lee Herrmann, University of Washington; Phill Dionne, WA Department of Fish and Wildlife; Correigh Greene and Stu Munch, National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration


Puget Sound primary productivity, phytoplankton monitoring and indicators development workshops

Marine phytoplankton are vital components of the Puget Sound ecosystem as one of the largest primary producers. Through a series of five collaborative workshops that include engagement from the Phytoplankton Science Advisory Team (PSAT), stakeholders, and experts, this project will ultimately develop an action plan for quality assurance project plan.

Latest Update: Update on 11.16.2022 to Marine Waters WG (slide 54); materials from Workshop 1, Workshop 2, and Workshop 3 are available

Jude Apple, Padilla Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve; Ashley Bagley, Long Live the Kings; Julia Bos, King County; Cheryl Greengrove, University of Washington Tacoma; Lucas Hall, Long Live the Kings


Enhancing the Human Wellbeing Vital Sign through inclusive engagement

This project will contribute to the major knowledge and data gaps in the monitoring, assessment and reporting of the status and trends of the Human Wellbeing (HWB) Vital Signs and indicators. This will be achieved through the implementation of a community-based participatory research (CBPR) project that will inclusively engage residents and gauge their HWB through facilitated dialogues. This project focuses on Black and African American and Asian American and Pacific Islander residents due to notable gaps in current HWB Survey data and findings

David Trimbach, WA Department of Fish and Wildlife (formerly Oregon State University)


Develop foundation to monitor noise in marine water Vital Sign indicator

Monitoring marine noise in the region requires the combined approach of multiple recording systems. This project compiles data from moored, autonomous recording systems, and portable, hand-held hydrophones for spot recordings to identify existing sound levels in Puget Sound including human-made noise. Additionally, based on the findings, they will identify how the noise levels would likely disturb fish and marine mammals.

Latest Update: Update on 8.17.2022 to Marine Waters WG (slide 23)

Erin Ashe, Oceans Initiative


Puget Sound Marine Benthic Index and Graphical Causal Model

Benthic invertebrates (benthos) are important to food webs and provide important ecosystem services that can be impaired by human and natural causes. To develop the new Marine Benthic Index Vital Sign indicator, this project is developing two new tools to help us understand how human disturbance affects life at the bottom of Puget Sound: a Marine Benthic Index and a graphical causal model.

Latest Update: Update on 8.17.2022 to Marine Waters WG (slide 19), Project factsheet

Valerie Partridge, WA Department of Ecology; Donald Schoolmaster, US Geological Survey


Compiling and analyzing data for the new Puget Sound salmon Vital Sign indicators

Having a more comprehensive indicator approach is critical to having a more holistic status assessment of the salmon population in the Puget Sound. This project provides a data review and analysis for the three new salmon Vital Sign indicators and develops improved analytical methods for estimating Puget Sound steelhead spawning abundance.

Latest Update: Update on 12.9.2022 to Salmonids WG

Neala Kendall, WA Department of Fish and Wildlife


Designing a toxics biological monitoring program for the nearshore to accelerate recovery of Puget Sound ecosystem health

Puget Sound’s nearshore native mussels can be monitored to identify whether toxics are increasing or decreasing in the environment. This project is developing a design for field surveys to monitor toxic contaminants with mussels based, involving collaboration with impacted communities.

James West, Mariko Langness, Louisa Harding, and Sandra O’Neill, WA Department of Fish and Wildlife; Mark Scheuerell, University of Washington


Open knowledge networks to support regulatory best available science

Applying “best available science” is critical to regulatory decisions regarding natural resources. However, there are challenges in finding the information and in a comprehensive and efficient way. This project will develop two “science sprints” on two impactful topics. The sprints will compile scientific evidence and regulatory models to support policy. The results of the sprints will be hosted on an open knowledge network known as the Salish Sea Wiki.

Latest Update: Project webpage

Max Lambert, WA Department of Fish and Wildlife; Paul Cereghino, Josh Chamberlin, and Stephanie Ehinger, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration


Trophic linkages between zooplankton, herring, and salmon Vital Sign indicators

Understanding the interrelationships in the food web is key to furthering efforts related to management goals and interventions. This project examines the interrelationships between forage fish, juvenile salmon, and zooplankton. In addition, this effort builds upon recommendations of the Salish Sea Marine Survival Project to further define bottom-up and top-down food web effects on juvenile salmonid mortality in Puget Sound and demonstrate the benefits produced by restoration efforts in the region.

Latest Update: Update on 11.7.2022 to Forage Fish and Food Webs WG

Correigh Greene, NOAA; Todd Sandell, formerly WA Department of Fish and Wildlife; Julie Keister, University of Washington


Additional Vital Signs Development

Project title Description Project team

Development of the Floating Kelp Canopy Area Vital Sign Indicator

The purpose of the project is to develop the Puget Sound floating kelp canopy Vital Sign indicator by 1) describing indicator requirements, 2) synthesizing existing datasets, 3) analyzing datasets, 4) visualizing results, and 5) identify limitations and recommend future improvements. Submit the results via the Vital Sign module on Puget Sound Info

Latest update: 1.10.2023 Puget Sound Floating Kelp Canopy Vital Sign Indicator Workshop 3 – Recording; Project Website

Helen Berry, Pete Dowty, Julia Ledbetter, Elizabeth Spaulding, Danielle Claar, WA Department of Natural Resources; Todd Woodard, Samish Indian Nation; Megan Dethier and Wendell Raymond, University of Washington; Nicole Naar, WA Sea Grant; Tom Mumford, Marine Agronomics

Projects funded in 2019-2021:

The Partnership funded the following projects using funding allocated to support PSEMP work groups and reporting of the Vital Signs during the 2019-21 biennium:

Project title Description Project leads

Nearshore Summit and Synthesis

This virtual nearshore summit, held from March 10-25, 2021, included about 80 speakers representing over 50 institutions and over 500 registrants. The goal is to connect restoration scientists and practitioners to synthesize nearshore science and restoration actions in Puget Sound to create a durable roadmap that updates restoration conceptual models and identifies key uncertainties for future research and management to address. You can find more information about the summit and its synthesis here. You can find a video overview here.

Tish Conway-Cranos, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife; Jason Toft, University of Washington; David Trimbach, Oregon State University

Fundamental Environmental Contextual Metrics Dashboard

Climate change poses a serious threat to Puget Sound recovery efforts. To adapt recovery efforts to these changes, we need metrics that show why change is occurring. The project will use data from ongoing oceanographic and atmospheric measurement programs to develop six fundamental environmental metrics and compare current status updates to historical values. When finished, the metrics will be available to the public via a web-based dashboard that will concisely summarize current conditions. The dashboard is accessible at this link. You can find a video overview here.

John Mickett, University of Washington

Marine Waters Annual Overview

The Marine Waters Overview Report and annual workshop communicates the results from regional monitoring programs through a virtual workshop and published report of technical summaries and high-level information synthesis across monitoring programs and scientific disciplines. The annual workshop and report provided an integrative understanding of current trends in Puget Sound marine water quality and impacts through the food web, link to the Puget Sound Vital Signs and goals for ecosystem recovery, and share critical information for making evidence-based decisions about recovery efforts. The link to the full report can be found here and you can find a video overview here.

Jude Apple, Padilla Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve; Rachel Wold, University of Washington

Avian Habitat Suitability Models for Puget Sound Estuary Birds

Puget Sound and the Salish Sea support hemispherically significant concentrations of shorebirds, waterfowl, and other marine bird species. Despite this importance, birds have received little attention by state and federal recovery efforts. This project develops science products that support the management needs of estuary birds, including end-user stakeholder engagement, avian-habitat suitability models, and the initiation of a regional avian monitoring framework for river delta estuaries. A monitoring framework will facilitate targeted data collection that allows for avian conservation planning and management at local and regional scales and supports integration of birds in estuary recovery efforts. This project produced an executive summary and storymap. You can find a video overview here.

Amanda Summers, Stillaguamish Tribes of Indians; Trina Bayard, Audubon Washington

Prioritization of Contaminants of Emerging Concern

This project identified and prioritized a suite of contaminants of emerging concern (CECs), based on biological relevance, to focus future monitoring efforts and provide the information necessary for a management response. Hundreds of CECs such as pharmaceuticals, plasticizers, pesticides, and others have been detected in Puget Sound. We must prioritize limited funding to address the chemicals of greatest concern and for future regulatory requirements. This project has finished its first phase and the report is linked here. You can find a video overview here.

Andy James, University of Washington Tacoma; Ruth Sofield, Western Washington University

Juvenile Salmonid Monitoring in Large Puget Sound Rivers

Juvenile salmonid monitoring is a critical component of understanding both freshwater productivity and marine survival. The project worked with a network of tribal and state smolt trap operators to identify shared trends in Chinook salmon abundance and productivity metrics through time across 11 rivers throughout the Puget Sound region. Results from this project indicate that Puget Sound Chinook salmon retain signs of resilience, both in terms of asynchronous survival trends among populations and recent periods of increased survival for some populations. In a changing climate, salmon recovery can further bolster resilience by fostering life history diversity and adopting management strategies robust to periods of both high and low survival. Additionally, this project showed the value of a cohesive network of juvenile salmonid monitoring in the region for informing recovery efforts. The project has developed a one-page overview and report. You can find a video overview here.

Joe Anderson and Peter Lisi, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife; Dawn Pucci, Island County

Birds Vital Sign, Abundance of marine birds indicator

Process annual mid-winter WDFW PSAMP seabird and waterfowl survey flight data; marine and terrestrial bird indicator updates; winter birds web map; Pigeon Guillemot citizen science data gathering, storage and summary tools.

Scott Pearson, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Drinking Water Vital Sign, Index of vulnerability for elevated nitrates in groundwater indicator

Model for index of vulnerability to nitrates in groundwater; first Vital Sign indicator report for the vulnerability index indicator.

Rick Dinicola, United States Geological Survey.

Economic Vitality Vital Sign, Employment, output and percent employment in natural resource industries indicator

Data compilation and analysis; annual update for three economic indicators in 2022. Vital Sign key messages.

Katrina Wellman, Northern Economics Inc; Susan Burke, EcoResource Group and Green Economics.

Outdoor Activities Vital Sign, Condition of swimming beaches indicator

Maintain monitoring, data compilation, analyses and reporting at high-use, high-risk Puget Sound marine beaches for fecal indicator bacteria and communicate to the public when a risk of disease is identified. Indicator update in PS Info.

Julianne Ruffner, Washington Department of Ecology.

Shoreline Armor Vital Sign, HPA based indicator of new and removed armor

HPA-based data compilation; Vital Sign indicator reporting for 2019 and 2020; Vital Sign decadal summary report and final data product.

Doris Small, Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Cultural Wellbeing, Good Governance, Sense of Place, Sound Stewardship, Local Foods and Outdoor Activity Vital Signs, subjective human wellbeing indicators

Second general survey (in 2020) and report in support of the subjective human wellbeing indicators to report on. Survey of Latinx communities. Draft and final updates to each Vital Sign indicator reports, submitted via PS Info, based on general subjective HWB VS survey; Draft and final updates to each Vital Sign indicator reports via PS Info, based on Latinx survey; Key messages for Sense of Place submitted via PS Info; Presentations to Social Sciences Advisory Group; Inputs to State of the Sound report. Indicators: Participation in cultural practices; Good Governance Index; Locally harvestable foods; Nature-based recreation; Nature-based work; Overall life satisfaction; Psychological Wellbeing Index; Sense of Place Index; Engagement in stewardship activities).

Kelly Biedenweg, Oregon State University.

Toxics in Fish Vital Sign, Contaminants in juvenile salmon indicator

Assess compatibility of historical data; assess time trends; indicator update for contaminants in juvenile salmon; draft manuscript and communication product.

Last updated: 10/02/23


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