Build issue awareness to increase public support for Puget Sound recovery and cultivate stewardship behaviors that benefit Puget Sound.
Stewardship of Puget Sound resources by the region’s residents—estimated at 5.3 million and counting—is critical to the long-term recovery and protection of Puget Sound. Across Puget Sound, residents volunteer, advocate, and commit their time and energy to protect and restore our waters, land, and wildlife. A recent study shows that Puget Sound residents engage in environmental stewardship and environmentally friendly behaviors at higher levels than the national average. The willingness of people to pursue stewardship actions is critical to the effort to restore and protect Puget Sound. Public involvement in and support for recovery efforts and strategies to increase stewardship of Puget Sound helps foster broad-scale actions to address polluted water, degraded land and habitat, and imperiled species. Building issue awareness fosters improved civic processes, engages residents in government, and enables public officials to make well-informed decisions on recovery issues. Behavior change methods, such as incentive programs and community-based social marketing, can foster beneficial behaviors and discourage detrimental ones, by building capacity, providing an incentive, or removing barriers to action.
Engagement in stewardship activities is an expression of community engagement, altruism, social capital, individual and collective initiative, sense of ownership and connection to place, and an optimistic willingness to invest in future conditions. Residents with a strong sense of place are more likely to engage in actions that help improve the ecosystem. Residents also vary in their opinions of environmental governance in the region.
This shows that in some places, decision-makers might need to do more to build capacity and trust and include residents in planning efforts. Decision-makers could also help foster people’s connections to Puget Sound to improve beliefs about environmental governance and recovery overall, in part by listening closely to community needs.
This strategy includes actions that strengthen awareness across the region on the magnitude of the challenges to achieve resilience in Puget Sound. It amplifies the ongoing work of recovery partners, especially at the local level, to connect with residents and build the capacity and infrastructure necessary to support stewardship activities. The actions included also amplify the need for further social science research, particularly the questions outlined in the Social Science for the Salish Sea report.