Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark, Department of Ecology Director Ted Sturdevant, Department of Veterans Affairs Director John Lee, and other officials announced the creation of the Puget SoundCorps at the Gog-le-hi-te Wetlands Park at the Port of Tacoma Thursday.
Puget SoundCorps crews, including recently returning veterans, removed invasive weeds and replanted hundreds of native plants at a nine-acre wetlands site. The park was created by the Port of Tacoma in 1986 on a former city landfill along the Puyallup River. The site provides critical salmon, bird and other habitat in the river system.
“These men and women fought our wars, and now they are going to help us clean up Puget Sound,” said Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark. “Today we take an important step forward in creating more efficient government in challenging times.”
The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) manages 2.6 million acres of aquatic lands in Washington; the SoundCorps creates jobs while cleaning up state lands across the 12-county area that makes up the Puget Sound basin. Working in partnership with Ecology and other sister agencies, DNR is helping to carry out the Puget Sound Partnership’s Action Agendathe playbook for prioritizing and focusing Puget Sound recovery and protection efforts.
“The Puget SoundCorps will make a critical difference for our veterans and young adults, our communities and environment,” Ecology Director Sturdevant said. “Their work will be instrumental in helping recover, protect and preserve Puget Sound. I am proud of our new members and pleased we can put people to work, build their skills and benefit our environment.”
Sturdevant said the Puget SoundCorps is part of the broader Washington Conservation Corps administered by Ecology. SoundCorps crews work on projects located on public lands that are designed to help carry out the Puget Sound Partnership Action Agenda.
The Puget SoundCorps does a wide array of work activities including removing toxic threats by eliminating creosote-treated wood, bulkheads and other shoreline structures that damage habitat and pollute Puget Sound; restoring habitat at toxic cleanup sites; repairing stream and streamside habitat damaged by unlawful uses of public lands; removing invasive species; helping remove barriers for fish, and characterizing stream, habitat and pollution issues; repairing and removing forest roads to keep our streams free from sediments; and conducting educational activities that help support the Puget Sound Partnership.
The 2011 Washington Legislature passed a law that combined all existing Washington Conservation Corps (WCC) activities into Ecology. The new consolidated program serves the departments of Natural Resources, Fish and Wildlife, and Veterans Affairs, and the Washington Parks and Recreation Commission. Puget SoundCorps focuses on job creation and clean-up of state lands in the Puget Sound basin.