2022-2026 ACTION AGENDA EXPLORER

STRATEGY A

Funding

Explore and utilize new sources of funding, enhance, and increase the effectiveness of existing sources of funding, and increase overall funding for Puget Sound recovery.
A lack of adequate funding has been a fundamental barrier to progress in Puget Sound recovery efforts. From the 2013-2015 biennium to the 2021-2023 biennium, the Washington State Legislature has funded Puget Sound restoration and protection programs at an average of only 53 percent of what was requested, a $763 million gap that has left many high priority projects languishing unfunded. The gap for salmon recovery is even more pronounced: the statewide capital cost of implementing the habitat-related elements identified in regional salmon recovery plans over the past decade was $4.7 billion. However, only $1 billion was actually invested— just under 22 percent of the need.

Underfunding leads to delayed projects; inefficient, piecemeal implementation; lost ecological benefits; lost local job and economic development opportunities; and ultimately, a failure to achieve resilience in Puget Sound. Only five of the 28 Puget Sound Vital Sign Indicators are at or near their 2020 targets. Twenty-two
of the indicators are either not making any progress towards targets or are getting worse. While we wait, the human and ecological burdens associated with a degraded Puget Sound increase, and the financial cost of protecting Puget Sound continues to rise. We must mobilize and accelerate funding for large capital programs and fully fund the Action Agenda for Puget Sound if we are to make progress towards recovery.

Fully funding Puget Sound recovery demands that we also must diversify funding sources and maximize the effectiveness of existing funds. Funding for Puget Sound recovery can—and must—come from a number of different sources: private and public; state and federal; traditional and innovative. New market mechanisms can be leveraged to achieve funding goals outlined in this strategy and help create new revenue streams (for example, carbon credits, water quality trading, and transfer of development rights). We must ensure that honoring tribal nations’ treaty and sovereign rights, equity, and environmental justice are centered within these funding approaches. Those seeking to advance Puget Sound recovery are committed to exploring and securing a diverse collection of funding sources sufficient to meet the needs of Puget Sound recovery as articulated in the Action Agenda and watershed and species recovery plans.

Actions within this strategy encompass work to document funding needs across Puget Sound, secure sustainable and equitable funding from existing sources, establish new sources of state funds, leverage innovative private financing opportunities, and improve coordination of funding streams. This strategy also includes actions to build the infrastructure needed for partners to respond to rapid funding availability so that projects can be scaled up quickly and successfully. As part of its role as a backbone organization for Puget Sound recovery, the Partnership continues to work to mobilize funding through the development and implementation of the actions described in this section.
Actions

Secure sustainable, equitable, and dedicated federal, state, local, and tribal nations funding sources to fully fund Puget Sound and salmon recovery. (ID #173)

Key opportunities for 2022-2026 include:

  • Educate the public and decision-makers on the scale and urgency of the funding need across Puget Sound;
  • Ensure accountability and effectiveness in how investments meant to fund Puget Sound recovery are implemented;
  • Advocate for strategic prioritization and alignment of federal and state infrastructure funding (including the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the State Revolving Fund) based on restoration priorities, economies of scale, science advancement, equity and environmental justice, agriculture and resource land protection, and workforce development;
  • Support ongoing funding for the three high-priority state capital budget requests, including the Puget Sound Acquisition and Restoration (PSAR) Program, the Estuary and Salmon Restoration Program (ESRP), the Puget Sound Nearshore Restoration Project (PSNERP), the Floodplains by Design Program, and the Stormwater Financial Assistance Program;
  • Establish stable funding sources to fully implement local salmon recovery plans;
  • Connect and apply new mobilized and diverse funding to well-vetted and prioritized local projects and programs sources.

Establish and implement a major new source of state funding. (ID #180)

Key opportunities for 2022-2026 include:

  • Assess possible revenue sources for the best match to successfully deliver Puget Sound recovery funding at the necessary scale and pace;
  • Build a coalition to support the passage of the new source of revenue before and during the state legislative session.

Mobilize new and diverse private funding sources to advance Puget Sound and salmon recovery (for example, private foundations, businesses, individuals, and market- based mechanisms). (ID #174)

Key opportunities for 2022-2026 include:

  • Implement pilot projects in the Water 100 Project that rank highly with SILs;
  • Connect or apply new mobilized and diverse funding to well-vetted and prioritized local projects and programs sources;
  • Explore the feasibility of a Puget Sound regional Transfer of Development Rights program;
  • Steward and expand the Partnership Nearshore Credit marketplace, including through upfront capital investments;
  • Explore and establish Puget Sound recovery as a vehicle for blue carbon investments;
  • Expand the use of revolving loan funds to leverage private capital and finance projects on private property;
  • Develop a private sector engagement plan – including communications and investment-grade performance measures – necessary to recruit private investment capital and target philanthropic funders.

Identify and expand funding for subject-specific topics with unique funding requirements (for example, onsite sewer systems and salmon recovery). (ID #175)

Key opportunities for 2022-2026 include:

  • Conduct a detailed and thorough economic study and cost-benefit analysis and subsequent legislative request to determine an appropriate yearly charge for onsite sewer system (OSS) owners;
  • Create an OSS utility fee;
  • Create robust local programs that are well funded to provide oversight, inspection reminders, training, and enforcement notices;
  • Establish stable funding sources to full implement local ongoing OSS programs with shellfish resources by, for example, ensuring that property fees fully cover the cost of OSS management in rural areas;
  • Identify and develop programs to assist low-income OSS repair and replacement and provide gap funding or no match options for those in need;
  • Secure dedicated funding for large-scale salmon recovery “legacy projects” to remove barriers to salmon recovery and secure full funding for high-priority state capital budget requests, including the Puget Sound Acquisition and Restoration (PSAR) Program, the Estuary and Salmon Restoration Program (ESRP), the Puget Sound Nearshore Restoration Project (PSNERP), the Floodplains by Design Program, and the Brian Abbott Fish Barrier Removal Board (FBRB).

Engage partners in developing the list of Puget Sound- wide resource needs. (ID #179)

Key opportunities for 2022-2026 include:

  • Characterize the resources needed to implement salmon recovery habitat restoration and acquisition projects, including near-term costs (four-year project list) and the full costs to restore and revegetate riparian buffers;
  • Understand the collection of existing funding sources used to support Puget Sound recovery;
  • Increase coordination on state budget requests with LIO partners.

Build infrastructure for and implement a rapid funding response capacity for Puget Sound. (ID #181)

Key opportunities for 2022-2026 include:

  • Ensure local partners have the capacity to quickly scale their recovery work with increased investment;
  • Facilitate streamlined bundling and matchmaking between funding sources and protection and restoration projects;
  • Explore opportunities to increase local project sponsor capacity on a regional scale, such as hiring through state agencies to increase capacity for key issues when and where local jurisdictions are unable to hire appropriate staff directly.

Increase coordination, efficiency, and effectiveness of current funding programs to extend impact of current funding (ID #207)

Key opportunities for 2022-2026 include:

  • Support efforts to coordinate funding (for example, the Align group and the Federal Task Force to coordinate funding;
  • Support the PSSRC Funding Subcommittee’s efforts to better align existing funding programs and authorities with salmon recovery and Puget Sound restoration priorities, including the effort by the subcommittee to work with counties to integrate salmon recovery into existing Conservation Futures programs;
  • Explore opportunities to reduce administrative burden on project sponsors by reducing or eliminating match requirements, streamlining grant reporting and tracking, extending grant funding timelines, and moving long- term programs from grants to secured long-term funding sources.
Implementation Considerations

No related implementation considerations at this time. 

Ongoing Programs

No related ongoing programs at this time. 

What We're Measuring

Increased, consistent, and dedicated funding to support the implementation of large capital projects, the Action Agenda, and the ongoing programs led by organizations across Puget Sound working to advance protection, restoration, and the resilience of vibrant, enduring natural systems and communities. An indicator of success is increasing the average percentage of Puget Sound recovery funds requested by state agencies funded by the legislature each biennium.