Hundreds Assemble for Sake of Salmon - Group led by Bill Ruckelshaus crafting a recovery plan



TACOMA, WA-- Any lingering questions about who is guiding salmon recovery efforts in Puget Sound were answered here Wednesday.

Shared Strategy for Puget Sound, a group formed in February 2002, is the first nonprofit group to contract with the state and federal government to draft an endangered species recovery plan.

The target species are Puget Sound chinook, Hood Canal summer chum and bull trout, all listed under the federal Endangered Species Act.

The group is spearheaded by Bill Ruckelshaus, former head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, chairman of the state Salmon Recovery Funding Board and principal in the Seattle-based Madrona Investment Co.

With a staff of four and $600,000 a year in federal salmon recovery money, Shared Strategy is urging citizens, tribes, technical experts and policy makers to build a watershed-by-watershed recovery plan that passes muster with National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries, which listed Puget Sound chinook as a threatened species.

The group's two-day conference began Wednesday and has brought together about 400 people from across Puget Sound who are working on restoration projects in the region's 15 watersheds.

"Our goal is to have a salmon recovery plan by June 2005 that works for us and works for the salmon," said Jim Kramer, Shared Strategy executive director and an Evergreen college graduate.

Rather than having federal bureaucrats write the salmon recovery plan, it needs to be built from the ground up, by local communities in the areas affected by the plan, Ruckelshaus said.

"The federal agencies need to back off and let these watersheds work," he said.

The conference was a coming out party of sorts for Shared Strategy. Most of the attendees were firm believers that it's the only viable vehicle for Puget Sound salmon recovery.

"It's the only game in town -- we've got to make it work," said Frank Urabeck, director of fishing affairs for the Northwest Marine Trade Association. "With Ruckelshaus involved, we have enough political push."


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