Stewardship & Motivating Action

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.

Cultivate broad-scale stewardship practices and behaviors among Puget Sound residents that benefit Puget Sound. (ID #125)

Key opportunities for 2022-2026 include:

  • Sustain and further projects and programs that advance individual behavior change;
  • Support landowner coordination for landscape-scale conservation;
  • Address barriers faced by vulnerable populations and underserved communities that hinder them from participating in stewardship practices and behavior changes by allocating funds, designing targeted outreach, and providing resources;
  • Advance and incentivize individual pro-environmental behavior change among residents, visitors, and climate migrants to the Salish Sea.

Build issue awareness and understanding to increase public support and engagement in recovery actions. (ID #126)

Key opportunities for 2022-2026 include:

  • Expand and promote public participation in governance processes through education, training, experiential, and mentoring programs, with a targeted focus on vulnerable populations and underserved communities;
  • Address barriers faced by vulnerable populations and underserved communities that hinder them from engaging in recovery actions;
  • Engage community-based organizations in developing awareness campaigns for residents;
  • Develop communication materials in multiple languages to raise awareness among different audiences.

Build social and institutional infrastructure that supports stewardship behaviors and removes barriers. (ID #127)

Key opportunities for 2022-2026 include:

  • Expand and promote public participation in governance processes;
  • Allocate funding to build the capacity of residents and community-based organizations to engage in stewardship behaviors;
  • Address the needs of vulnerable populations and underserved communities so they can meaningfully engage in and advocate for stewardship behaviors;
  • Bolster and expand voluntary environmental programs for local businesses and private landowners, particularly those owned by vulnerable populations and underserved communities.

Investigate the research questions outlined within Social Science for the Salish Sea. Key opportunities for 2022-2026 are to engage with social scientists to gather input on the following questions from the Social Science for the Salish Sea report:

Key opportunities for 2022-2026 include:

  • What factors motivate landowners to engage in or resist ecosystem recovery actions? What about land rights- holders, such as tribal nations and other stakeholders, such as the non-landowning public? (Ask related questions of these groups as well.) [Question #3]
  • What is the current status of, and potential for, collaborating with different industries in ecosystem recovery? (For example, natural resource industries such as forestry and fishing, ports, pipelines, mines, pulp mills, etc.) [Question #6]
  • How do resource management and conservation affect people in different and differential ways (for example, economic, psychological, physical, and cultural effects)? [Question #11]
  • How do power and politics influence decision- making processes and actions taken in the Salish Sea? [Question #26]
  • How can we advance eco-cultural (also called biocultural) approaches to stewardship and restoration? [Question #30]
Implementation Considerations

No related implementation considerations at this time. 

Ongoing Programs

No related ongoing programs at this time. 

What We're Measuring

Indicators of success include improving the Sound Behavior Index (SBI). This index tracks 28 specific practices that can affect water quality and aquatic habitats such as yard and garden care, vehicle and home maintenance, and pet waste disposal. The SBI is based on a survey that asks residents about specific, measurable, repetitive behaviors within households to analyze aggregate change over time.

Current Legislative Actions