Martha Kongsgaard, the longtime chair of the Puget Sound Partnership’s Leadership Council, submitted her resignation to Gov. Jay Inslee today. In her resignation letter she credits work by the treaty tribes to recover Puget Sound. She specifically cited the removal of the dams on the Elwha (spearheaded by the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe), the Qwuloolt restoration (Tulalip Tribes) and the Nisqually estuary restoration (Nisqually Tribe).
She also digs deeper into the role of treaty rights within the context of our failure to recovery salmon. From the letter, published by Salish Sea Currents:
We agree with the 20 treaty tribes of Puget Sound that we are losing the battle for salmon recovery because the rate of habitat loss continues to outpace our restoration efforts. Salmon, that iconic species that sits at the center of our recovery work, is emblematic of the interrelationship among ecosystems, natural resources and people, indigenous and the newly and yet to arrive. As sovereign nations, Indian tribes in western Washington signed treaties with the United States in 1855-56, giving up most of the land that is now western Washington, while reserving their rights to harvest salmon and other natural resources. For those rights to have meaning, there must be salmon to harvest. If salmon are to survive, and if treaty rights are to be honored, there must be real gains in habitat protection and restoration. We are committed to this work because the rule of law requires it but also because we as a region understand salmon to be a defining feature of our future as well.