State of the Ecosystem

The Puget Sound Vital Signs and Vital Sign Indicators are measures of ecosystem health. They reflect what people in the Puget Sound recovery community care about and think is most important to measure.

Vital Signs and their indicators may be slow to change, especially at the Puget Soundwide scale. Still, some patterns emerge and show concerning signals across the region’s ecosystems. We report here, using the most recent data available, on the status and trends in these long-term measures of environmental health.

Many indicators are not trending in any direction. For some indicators, like Chinook salmon and Puget Sound steelhead, we need to see more progress toward recovery. Other indicators are in good condition and have stayed stable over time. For example, the 2022 Vital Signs Human Wellbeing Survey detected little change since 2018. People’s engagement with the environment has generally been positive and consistent over the last few years. We see progress in indicators where decisionmakers and land managers have direct influence on habitat outcomes, for example, restoring estuaries and floodplains.

We are encouraged by improving trends in summer chum salmon and some herring stocks. We see the least progress or declines in indicators affected by multiple factors (such as Chinook salmon and orca population abundance) and large-scale forces, such as climate change, and where we rely on decisions made nationally or even globally to create positive change.

Many indicators show localized declines even if we don’t see a trend at the regional scale. Local declines require attention and work to fix issues before the pattern becomes a regional problem.

Puget Sound Progress Indicators

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State of the Recovery Effort

The State of the Sound includes information about the ways in which we and our partners are working together to make progress on Puget Sound recovery. This progress includes changes in funding, policy, advocacy, research, or other collective work. 

Over the last two years, we’ve seen great improvement in federal and state budget and policy outcomes, local recovery funding and cooperation, and the ways in which state agencies are working with communities affected by pollution and other environmental harms. We’ve also made progress in the methods we use to report on Puget Sound recovery and how we help our partners solve problems. 


This section, new for the 2023 State of the Sound, highlights projects and efforts from our partners that have made a difference in Puget Sound recovery. These accomplishments show the quality and range of work that our partners do—and demonstrate the commitment of the recovery community.

Puget Sound recovery is a long-term effort that will require collective action from organizations and people throughout the entire region. It’s important that we celebrate our successes and appreciate the people who work hard every day to preserve and protect this place that we love.