Puget Sound National Estuary Program (NEP)

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The Puget Sound National Estuary Program is a non-regulatory initiative and a forum for engaging and aligning diverse organizations in partnership to create, implement and monitor approaches to achieve economic and environmental health of the Puget Sound. These organizations include federal agencies, tribal governments and organizations, state agencies, regional entities, local governments, not-for-profit organizations, higher education, the private sector, and people from around the Puget Sound region. (from: http://www.psp.wa.gov/NEP-overview.php)

There is substantial overlap between the Puget Sound Partnership operating under state statue and the implementation of the NEP which provides funding to PSP. In addition there is a great deal of practical overlap between the Salmon Recovery system and the NEP system, each developed under different authorities, but implemented by overlapping actors in the same landscape.

Components and Language of the NEP in Puget Sound

  • Puget Sound Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan - a document required for NEP participation. The Action Agenda serves as the PSCCMP for Puget Sound.
  • Strategic Initiatives (SIs) - during an iteration of NEP three topics were identified as strategic initiatives for NEP funding: Habitat, Water Quality, and Shellfish.
  • Strategic Initiative Leads (SILs) - EPA entered into agreements with state agencies to develop NTAs. There are three SILs as described above, each with its own SIAT and NTAs. The SILs manage a shared website: https://pugetsoundestuary.wa.gov/
  • Near Term Actions (NTAs) - A solicited list of actions used both for describing the Puget Sound Action Agenda, and to petition for NEP funding from EPA through a SIL
  • Implementation Strategies - Developed as an extension of selected Vital Signs, the ISs are documents that define the current strategy towards achieving Vital Sign objectives by identifying the proximite and supporting conditions necessary to meet targets (for example: estuary acres restored).
  • Strategic Initiative Advisory Team (SIAT) - a group of agency and academic scientists who volunteer to participate in teams that evaluate NTAs and Implementation Strategies.
  • Local Integrating Organizations (LIOs) - a set of areas, overlapping with but separate from Watershed Lead Entities used to organize local efforts.
  • LIO Coordinators - staff funded through contract between PSP and local leads, funded by EPA, that convene and staff local LIO committees.

National Estuary Program

  • Authority was established in the 1987 ammendments of the Clean Water Act (Sec. 320)
  • Puget Sound is one of 28 estuaries of national significance.
  • Each NEP site is supposed to develop a Management Conference, and develop a Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan. For Puget Sound that MC are the various committees of the Puget Sound Partnership and the CCMP is the Action Agenda
  • Previous to PSP the NEP program was represented by the Puget Sound Water Quality Authority and the Puget Sound Action Team.
  • NEP funds are relatively flexible and can be applied to a wide range of activities, from planning to outreach, to on the ground implementation of habitat or water quality programs.
  • The EPA is appropriated federal funds, which are distributed in Puget Sound. The exact focus and mechanisms used by NEP change over time but include:
  • In 2015 the NEP Watershed Protection and Restoration grants developed a new Riparian Easement program, intended to fill a need for riparian zone protection and restoration, while responding to Treaty Rights at Risk by implementing File:AFW 2002 federal riparian buffer matrix.pdf. Canty 2015 describes the stakeholder consultation supporting program development.
  • Over 2015 and 2016 a new system has been developed by NEP and PSP that includes "Strategic Implementation Advisory Teams" that advise three "Strategic Initiative" leads (Habitat, Shellfish, Stormwater), on how to allocate resources among "Near Term Actions", which together make up the "Action Agenda", and are evaluated using a framework defined in "Implementation Strategies", that propose a strategy for increasing "Puget Sound Vital Signs".