CENTER FOR BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY

THE PUGET SOUND BASIN

The Puget Sound Basin supports a rich diversity of habitats ranging from eel grass beds to old-growth forests and alpine meadows. In the past century, these habitats have been degraded by a myriad of factors including logging, mining, livestock grazing, water pollution, overfishing, fire suppression, spread of exotic species, and urban and agricultural sprawl. Many native species that thrived in the basin for tens of thousands of years have declined, some to the point of becoming endangered species, others becoming entirely extinct. The Center for Biological Diversity has begun an extensive campaign to protect Puget Sound habitats and the species that depend on them.

Research by the Center determined the Puget Sound is home to over 7,000 species, which is more than 31 individual states.  Puget Sound is truly one of America’s biodiversity hotspots. Unfortunately, it is also home to many imperiled species, including 31 listed as threatened or endangered species list (18) or on the waiting list for federal protection (13).

Sadly, at least 19 species appear to be extirpated from the Puget Sound, including the Gray Wolf and Grizzly Bear, Pacific Fisher, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, eight invertebrates, two subspecies of Mazama Pocket Gopher and five plants.

The number one cause of species imperilment in the Puget Sound is habitat destruction from urban and agricultural sprawl, logging and other factors. To ensure that more species are not lost from the Puget Sound, it is essential that we step up habitat protection. To this end, the Center is using its catalog of over 7,000 species to scientifically identify the places and habitats most important for preserving Puget Sound’s biodiversity heritage. We hope to initiate the establishment of a habitat protection network from the highest mountains to the depths of the ocean. It will take the combined efforts of federal agencies, counties, cities and towns, conservation groups, stakeholder groups and private land owners to set up a permanent habitat protection network.

While the big picture is coming together, the Center is taking immediate action to protect most imperiled wildlife and habitats. In the marine ecosystem, the Center carefully documented the plight of the Puget Sound Orca , developed a broad coalition to advocate for it, and won a federal proposal to place it on the endangered species list. A final decision is due in December, 2005. In Old-Growth Forests, Center scientists studied the Pacific Fisher, obtaining a federal decision that it warrants federal protection. Puget Sound’s grasslands and prairies are one its most important and least protected ecosystems. To bring great attention and protection, the Center has researched and filed federal petitions to protect eight subspecies of Mazama Pocket Gopher, Taylor’s Checkerspot Butterfly, Mardon Skipper Butterfly, Streaked Horned Lark and the Washington population of the Western Gray Squirrel. In freshwater rivers and streams and wetlands, the Center has petitioned for protection of the Oregon Spotted Frog and the Yellow-billed Cuckoo.

December 6, 2006