SEATTLE, Wash. May 10, 2013. The Green-Duwamish River watershed today joined the Urban Waters Federal Partnership (UWFP), a national multi-agency program that helps communities reconnect with and improve their urban waters.
The federal designation will help to advance the work of hundreds of ongoing and proposed conservation projects along the whole river involving local landowners and communities, tribes, stewardship groups, and other organizations.
“The Green-Duwamish River watershed is one of the most ecologically, economically, and socially diverse watersheds in the Pacific Northwest,” said Robert Mangold, acting Director of the U.S. Forest Service’s Pacific Northwest Research Station, which is leading the interagency effort in the watershed. “Being a part of this partnership will help federal agencies coordinate and collaborate with the many local and regional stakeholders throughout the watershed and broaden the scope of scientific research to help improve water quality and salmon habitat all along the urban-to-wildland continuum.”
The Green-Duwamish, which is the first watershed in the Pacific Northwest to enter into the UWFP, drains over 600 square miles and stretches 93 miles from the industrial core of Seattle, through urban and agricultural communities in the foothills of the Cascades, to the wilderness at the crest of the mountains in the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. In addition, the watershed serves as the municipal water source for Tacoma and much of southern King County, and provides habitat for five species of salmon, several of which are listed under the Endangered Species Act. The UWFP designation is viewed locally as an opportunity to collaborate with federal agencies to recover threatened Green River Chinook salmon and steelhead trout and to work across boundaries to protect and restore salmon habitat.
“We are excited to have our beloved Green-Duwamish watershed become a newly designated UWFP site,” said Bill Peloza, Co-Chair of the Ecosystem Forum of Water Resource Inventory Area 9, which encompasses the Green-Duwamish. “We look forward to forging this new partnership with federal agencies to bring focus to our efforts to save our salmon from extinction while keeping our forests and farms economically productive.”
The site was jointly proposed for designation as an UWFP site by the Forest Service and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in 2012. It was competitively selected by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which administers the program, and announced along with 10 other sites in a formal ceremony in Grand Rapids, Mich., earlier today.
According to Dennis McLerran, EPA Regional Administrator in Seattle, the Urban Waters Federal Partnership promotes community improvement through active partnerships.
“Strong multi-agency partnerships, with federal, tribal, state officials and stakeholders ‘at the table,’ help us integrate our work for maximum benefit to the community,” said EPA’s McLerran. “Aligning federal policies and funding will help spur innovative regional approaches, and it just makes good sense.”
With UWFP backing, conservation projects on the Green-Duwamish will focus on improving water quality, enhancing public access and benefits, and restoring the watershed’s ecosystem.
At the national level, the UWFP is a union of 13 federal agencies that works to reconnect urban communities with their waterways, particularly those communities that are overburdened or economically distressed, by improving coordination among federal agencies and collaborating with community-led revitalization efforts to improve our Nation's water systems and promote their economic, environmental, and social benefits. To learn more about the program, visit http://www.urbanwaters.gov.