In October, I had the privilege to forage mussels and seaweed from Puget Sound in the morning, then to collect fresh huckleberries and lobster mushrooms from our forests in the afternoon. That evening, nine friends shared the most amazing dinner of local foods, seasoned with salt made from the waters of Puget Sound. We talked about how fortunate we are to enjoy these special local foods. We also honored these foods that have sustained indigenous people for thousands of years.

The precious progress we’ve made reducing pollution levels in Puget Sound could not have happened without the Clean Water Act or the EPA. Now both are at risk.

The November election was a stark reminder that we cannot take anything for granted, including the food on our table. Federal environmental programs that protect public health and iconic species, including those that we shared at our dinner, are at risk at a level not seen in over 30 years. The precious progress we’ve made reducing pollution levels in Puget Sound could not have happened without the Clean Water Act or the EPA. Now both are at risk. Federal actions that support regional salmon recovery are at risk. The forests of the Puget Sound region, which produce over 90% of all freshwater entering the Sound, are at risk.

For Puget Sound, that means we will work harder than ever for clean water and healthy habitats. Harvesting shellfish is a right for all who live in Washington – past, present, and future – and should not be the privilege of a few or limited to a few locations. No one should have to feel threatened by stormwater from developed lands that carries toxic chemicals and other pollutants to Puget Sound and its tributaries. Our iconic orcas deserve strong salmon runs to feast on, which currently feel the disruption of shoreline armoring that threatens forage fish habitat. Our waters must stay free of risks posed by increased oil infrastructure and vessel traffic.

Now more than ever, we need to protect and restore Puget Sound and the waters that feed it. Puget Sound is the lifeblood of our region, sustaining us, defining who we are, and fueling our economy. Over our 50 year history, WEC has seen a roller coaster of ups and downs. But that has taught us an important lesson of developing a wide range of tools to protect, restore, and sustain Washington’s environment for all.

Your voices are needed more than ever, and we are counting on you to help defend the important strides our region has made as we enter 2017. We will not save Puget Sound by hoping for it – we need to work for it. Sign up to receive our emails to stay in the loop!