The healing path
There is only one path that leads to the healing of Puget Sound, and it is one that we all must walk together. Puget Sound is sick. It's becoming filled with poison and starved of oxygen. The eelgrass and other plants that support life in the Sound are dying. Orcas and salmon are not far behind.
The health of Puget Sound is an indicator of your health, whoever you are and whatever you do. If the dead zones that already exist in the Sound and in the Pacific Ocean continue to grow, you will feel it. And so will your children.
When Gov. Christine Gregoire asked me to co-chair the new Puget Sound Partnership effort, along with Bill Ruckelshaus and Jay Manning, I accepted without hesitation. The waters that flow from the mountains to the sea flow through the veins of us all, connecting us to one another.
These things are as true now as they have ever been. It is the truth that everyone who lives here is responsible and accountable for taking care of these great gifts from the Creator. There are no exceptions.
That's why federal, state, tribal and local governments must come together with businesses, conservation groups and - most of all - the citizens of this region to focus collectively on the task before us and forge solutions.
Yes, I am pleased to co-chair the Puget Sound Partnership, because I have hope it will at last consolidate all of our various energies into the united effort absolutely required to turn the tide on the Sound's health.
The fate of the Puget Sound Partnership is now in the hands of the legislature and Congress. It is time for us - all of us - to stand up for the Sound.
I believe history will remember this as a time when the people of the Puget Sound region stood tall, a time when we put aside our petty differences in exchange for the great binding power of stewardship.
The Puget Sound Partnership has joined public and private representatives from all walks of life in an effort that represents the last best hope for improving the health of the Sound. It deserves - and needs - all the support it can get.
Billy Frank Jr., Nisqually, is chairman of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission.