People for Puget Sound features Tulalip’s Terry Williams

The People for Puget Sound website features an interview with the Tulalip Tribes’ Natural Resources Commissioner Terry Williams:

“Once I started, I realized the environmental side of fisheries was extremely important so I started working with some of the other tribal folks trying to draw in more people to be involved. (I) quickly sorted out that between federal, state and local governments and with all the environmental rules in legislation, that, first, they weren’t being enforced and second, they weren’t adequate, so we went out to try to start changing the rules.”

That was in 1985—the year that then Governor Booth Gardener appointed Terry to the Puget Sound Water Quality Authority, where Terry met Kathy Fletcher. Kathy recommended that Jim Waldo in the Washington State Attorney General’s office be a mediator between the State and Tribes. That partnership eventually led to the Tulalip Tribe drafting the state’s first watershed protection plan.

Projects created in the watershed plan were funded at that time by the Centennial Clean Water Fund and paid for by a cigarette tax. Unfortunately, while the projects themselves were funded, crucial follow-up and monitoring programs were not. “We weren’t allowed to set up any monitoring programs or allowed to have any way of evaluating success,” says Terry. “We weren’t really even allowed to track where we were spending the money or what was being produced from it. That was really frustrating. We had no way of evaluating success—are we gaining or losing ground?”

Asked about the reasoning behind this, Terry responded, “Giving away money and receiving it I guess is fun. (It) gave the state the opportunity to argue, ‘Well it’s not like we’re not doing anything—we’re spending all this money.’ $100 million dollars a year sounds like a lot of money until you look at what it’s producing. When you look at the rate of change on the landscape compared to what you’re actually restoring, the rate of change from development was far more exhaustive on the landscape.”