South Puget Sound

From Salish Sea Wiki

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The South Puget Sound Region generally encompasses the reaches, passages and inlets south of the Tacoma Narrows. North of the Narrows are West Sound (which sometimes also claims the Pierce County portions of South Sound) and East Sound also referenced as The Megapolis. The largest freshwater inputs are Nisqually followed by the Deschutes. South Sound is the usual and accustomed area of the seven bands that are now the Squaxin Island Tribe as well as the Nisqually Indian Tribe. Compared to other parts of the Salish Sea, South Sound has the highest density of Embayments and wave energy is generally low. South Sound has extensive Shellfish beds, but largely lacks Eelgrass. While most Catchments are defined by inlets, people often live in communities that identify by peninsula, making place definition conflicted. Wild Chinook Salmon have been largely extirpated, but there are common runs of Chum Salmon. Pierce County, Thurston County and Mason County all manage Shoreline and the largest Urban area distinct from The Megapolis are the clustered tri-cities of Olympia, Lacey and Tumwater. South Sound was the terminus of the Wisconsin Glaciation and features of Post-Glacial Geology and Geomorphology are abundant, as well as the best remnant areas of Prairie and Oak Woodland on glacial outwash maintained historically through Cultural Burning by tribes.

Click for a large format PDF of this map
From Squaxin Island Tribal Website


  • South Puget Sound Volunteer Opportunities - a list of organizations that offer direct hands-on opportunities to restore ecosystems.
  • Dissolved oxygen from nitrogen loading
    • In the 2008 Water Quality Assessment, Ecology found that 24 locations in South Puget Sound were impaired due to a lack of dissolved oxygen. Ecology identified another 27 locations as waters of concern. The locations of greatest concern are Carr, Case, and Budd Inlets. Fish need oxygen. In areas with low levels of dissolved oxygen, fish and other marine life become stressed and die or are forced to flee their habitat. From [1]
    • On an annual basis, wastewater treatment plants south of the Tacoma Narrows send an average of 6,000 pounds of dissolved inorganic nitrogen into South Puget Sound per day. Another 11,000 pounds of dissolved inorganic nitrogen came from all other human and natural sources in the watershed. During the critical summer period for dissolved oxygen when river flows are lower, the wastewater treatment plants are a larger percentage of the load. The area between the Tacoma Narrows and Edmonds has many more people and it contributes about four times more dissolved inorganic nitrogen than South Puget Sound. Future work will quantify the amount of nitrogen coming into South Puget Sound from the Pacific Ocean. [2]
  • Prairie ecosystems are notable in glacial outwash
  • Joint Base Lewis McCord provides a major ecological preserve under federal ownership
  • Urbanization is rapid (need strong source)
  • Nisqually Watershed is a focus of protection by multiple parties and has been used as a reference site for wood accumulation with the lower reaches in the JBLM reservation.
  • Three tribal nations were signatory to the Medicine Creek Treaty which ceded tribal lands during colonization.
    • Squaxin Island Tribe includes the descendants of seven bands that were spread among the inlets of the South Sound.
    • Nisqually Indian Tribe includes the descendants of bands that lived around the Nisqually River.
  • Deschutes Estuary is a major restoration opportunity. The mouth of the Deschutes River was converted into a reflecting pool for the state captial, but over time has accumulated sediment, surplus nutrients and an infestation of New Zealand mud snail.
  • There are 11 Budd Inlet MTCA Sites located in at the southern head of Budd Inlet identified as part of the Puget Sound Initiative.


Place Icon.png   Places Within South Puget Sound[edit]

Workgroups and Efforts in South Puget Sound[edit]

Workgroup Icon.png   Workgroups

The following workgroups are based in South Puget Sound

Black Hills Audubon Society  •  Capitol Land Trust  •  Center for Natural Lands Management  •  City of Lacey  •  City of Olympia  •  Community Farmland Trust  •  Community Foundation of South Puget Sound  •  Deschutes Estuary Restoration Team  •  Great Peninsula Conservancy  •  Greater Gig Harbor Foundation  •  Mason County  •  Native Plant Salvage Foundation  •  Nisqually Land Trust  •  Nisqually Reach Nature Center  •  Olympia Coalition for Ecosystems Preservation  •  Pierce County  •  Plants for the People Nursery  •  Squaxin Island Tribe  •  St. Martins University  •  The Estuarium  •  The Evergreen State College  •  Thurston Conservation District  •  Thurston County  •  Thurston County Stream Team  •  Thurston Regional Planning Council

South Puget Sound Products[edit]

The following Product pages are categorized with South Puget Sound .

Document Icon.jpg  Documents

Beamer 2014 nisqually connectivity effects on salmon density.pdf  •  CLAMP 2009 capitol lake steering committee recommendation.pdf  •  City of Olympia 2021 SEPA DNS shoreline management program update.pdf  •  Coast & Harbor Engineering 2016 west bay restoration assessment.pdf  •  David et al 2014  •  ESRP 2012 red salmon slough revegetation deliverables.pdf  •  Ellings 2011 Nisqually Monitoring Framework.pdf  •  Greene et al 2021 chinook salmon estuary density dependance.pdf  •  Hayes et al. 2019 non-natal marine basin use  •  Hernandez et al 2019 environmental DNA fish presence south sound  •  Olympia 1997 grass lakes master plan.pdf  •  Olympia 2018 surface and storm water plan.pdf  •  PSRC 2018 regional open space conservation plan.pdf  •  PWA 2008 deschutes estuary restoration feasibility.pdf  •  TRPC 2013 thurston basin evaluation and management.pdf  •  Thurston CD 2004 WRIA 13 salmon recovery plan.pdf  •  Thurston County 2007 henderson inlet watershed characterization.pdf  •  WFC 2007 schneider creek stream type.pdf

Website Icon.jpg  Websites & Datasets

Graphic Icon.jpg  Graphics