Climate Adaptation & Resilience

Integrate climate adaptation and resilience into all strategies to protect and restore ecosystems and human wellbeing.
Changing climate and ocean conditions will affect much of what we value in Puget Sound— they pose serious risks to human health and safety, water quality and quantity, and species of concern. While climate change poses an immense challenge to achieving our protection and recovery goals, it also comes at a time with a significant opportunity to respond with bold and ambitious actions.

This strategy is designed to integrate climate adaptation and resilience into our work on all our strategies, to better protect and restore ecosystems and improve human wellbeing in ways that are equitable and synergistically advance Puget Sound statutory goals. The focus of this strategy is on advancing the multiple benefits of our recovery work and on identifying and reducing the vulnerabilities of the Puget Sound ecosystem to climate change stressors.

Implement multi-benefit projects and programs that synergistically advance Puget Sound recovery goals and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase carbon sequestration in Puget Sound ecosystems, increase climate adaptation, and promote climate resilience. (ID #137)

Key opportunities for 2022-2026 include:

  • Identify and address climate change risks to ensure resilience and reliability of infrastructure necessary for transportation (including roads, culverts, and bridges), communication, wastewater treatment, stormwater management, and power;
  • Consider coastal management approaches (for example, managed retreat and realignment) that promote resilience of habitat and human populations to climate impacts;
  • Develop strategies to protect and restore aquatic habitats that provide refuge for sensitive species and support resilience from climate-related impacts;
  • Develop climate-resilient forest management practices (including commercial forestry) and reforestation approaches to reduce risks of drought and wildfire, as well as increase snowpack and low summer streamflow;
  • Restore and acquire areas that provide flood conveyance, slow water, and deposit sediment during frequent, “ordinary” flood events by reconnecting the floodplain;
  • Update the Growth Management Act (GMA) to better consider climate change impacts, adaptation, and resilience;
  • Expand local capacity to educate, assist, and incentivize public and private landowners to work proactively to address future effects of climate change on water quantity and quality;
  • Create more equitable and resilient communities, economies, and businesses that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, sequester carbon, and adapt to changing conditions;
  • Develop and share rural, suburban, and urban forestry management and shoreline practices that use revised model laws and incentives;
  • Expand broadband access to develop a smart energy grid and increase opportunities for remote work; create programs to build green buildings and equitably house people in affordable green buildings;
  • Encourage protection of existing tree canopy to ensure regionally sequestered carbon is preserved; pursue equitable economic policy levers to increase access to renewable energy (for example, community solar projects);
  • Ensure a just transition for workers entering green jobs;
  • Increase community resilience and access to nature in all places (urban, suburban, rural, and wild places);
  • Encourage community land use;
  • Prioritize equitable financial investments in community- driven and community-based climate solutions and opportunities.

Increase legislative support to accelerate funding and implementation of projects, programs, and initiatives that reduce emissions and decrease the vulnerability of Puget Sound to changing climate and ocean conditions. (ID #147)

Key opportunities for 2022-2026 include:

  • Establish mechanisms for funding and financing climate resiliency responses;
  • Fund local collaborative efforts to gain a basic technical understanding of resilience and identify information needed to fill data gaps;
  • Create policies that address the disproportionate impacts of climate change on health and hazards faced by vulnerable populations and underserved communities.

Develop and enhance guidance on best practices to reduce emissions and risks and adapt to the most impactful climate stressors. (ID #148)

Key opportunities for 2022-2026 include:

  • Update local, regional, state, and tribal nations’ guidance and planning documents to require the integration of adequate and timely responses to changing climate and ocean conditions.

Increase availability of data, tools, and training, and increase the technical capacity of partners in the recovery community, to reduce the magnitude of and vulnerability to climate change, and advance adaptation of the Puget Sound socio-ecological system. (ID #149)

Key opportunities for 2022-2026 include:

  • Establish and formalize a state-wide, systems-level leadership structure (for example, Interagency Climate Adaptation Network (ICAN));
  • Expand research on the effects of sea level rise and ocean acidification.

Ensure that vulnerable populations and underserved communities are welcomed and engaged as full partners and support the priorities identified by communities when working to decrease the magnitude of climate change, advance climate change adaptation, and increase resilience to climate change. (ID #150)

Key opportunities for 2022-2026 include:

  • Build capacity (for example, leadership, community awareness, and education) for resilience within vulnerable populations and underserved communities to support climate actions and advocacy;
  • Advance community leadership by investing in long- term partnerships, capacity building, and community- driven policy and decision-making processes;
  • Create opportunities and elevate community voices, including youth voices, by engaging community and youth leaders around decision-making, climate action, and advocacy.

Regreen urban spaces. (ID #151)

Key opportunities for 2022-2026 include:

  • Provide assistance in municipalities to support urban forest management and green infrastructure that is climate-informed and includes fire-adapted community strategies, updates to the Evergreen Communities Act, and expands urban and community forestry.

Ensure that tribal nations’ treaty and sovereign rights are honored when working to decrease the magnitude of climate change, advance climate change adaptation, and increase resilience to climate change. (ID #171)

Key opportunities for 2022-2026 include:

  • Prioritize protection and resilience of tribal nations’ resources including ecosystems producing food and material resources and cultural sites;
  • Ensure that tribal nations’ treaty and sovereign rights and their role as co-managers of natural resources within Washington State are explicitly recognized;
  • Ensure that “free, prior and informed consent” from tribal nations when developing climate change legislation and policy.
Implementation Considerations

No related implementation considerations at this time.

Ongoing Programs

Ongoing programs provide regulatory oversight, technical support, implementation resources, funding, or guidance and serve as the critical foundation for Puget Sound recovery. The following is a list of example state and federal ongoing programs that help to implement this strategy. Many more local, tribal nations, and nongovernmental programs exist that support this strategy.

What We're Measuring

We achieve our recovery goals of healthy human populations, healthy water quality, abundant water quantity, increasing functioning habitat and thriving species and food webs, and vibrant quality of life into the future. We do this by increasing the resilience of the Puget Sound ecosystem (including habitats, water resources, species, and humans) and recovery efforts by adapting to changing climate and ocean conditions when conducting protection and restoration activities.