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4 dead as severe storms hit Houston, TX; Election Protection Program eases access to voting information; surge in solar installations eases energy costs for Missourians; IN makes a splash for Safe Boating Week.

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The Supreme Court rules funding for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is okay, election deniers hold key voting oversight positions in swing states, and North Carolina lawmakers vote to ban people from wearing masks in public.

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Americans are buying up rubber ducks ahead of Memorial Day, Nebraskans who want residential solar have a new lifeline, seven community colleges are working to provide students with a better experience, and Mississippi's "Big Muddy" gets restoration help.

WA kelp, eelgrass recovery plan tackles big losses in marine habitat

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Monday, December 11, 2023   

Bull Kelp in South and Central Puget Sound has declined more than 90% over the last 150 years - and eelgrass meadows severely declined as well, according to a new report just delivered to lawmakers.

The Washington Department of Natural Resources' new plan aims to reverse the losses.

The DNR's Co-lead on the Kelp and Eelgrass Health and Conservation Plan Cynthia Harbison said the goal is to conserve and recover at least 10,000 acres of kelp and eelgrass habitat by 2040.

"So, we're at the beginning of this process," said Harbison. "In the next few years, we are going to be working to gather local knowledge and identify specific conservation and recovery sites."

Three general areas will host pilot projects: Grays Harbor, South Puget Sound, and the eastern strait of Juan de Fuca.

The DNR will convene public stakeholder meetings early next year - go to their website to sign up to be notified by email for details.

Harbison said eelgrass and kelp are crucial habitat for many species, especially juvenile salmon and Dungeness crab, and can help in the fight against climate change.

"Eelgrass is really good at storing carbon," said Harbison, "and it can also provide some physical shoreline stabilization with the sediment and also ways reduction when there's big storm events coming in. Kelp can also do that as well."

Eelgrass and kelp are under stress from rising water temperatures due to climate change, as well as invasive species, water pollution and shoreline development.

Support for this reporting was provided by The Pew Charitable Trusts.




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