Puget Sound Area Maps
Puget Sound Topography & Bathymetry
Puget Sound is 600 feet deep. It’s like the space needle upside down. It was carved by the sharp fingernails of glaciers in a period lasting two million years. Strong tidal currents push and pull nutrients through long inlets driving complex biotic and abiotic interactions. We live here.
Why do the fingers of Puget Sound and all the major lakes stretch North-South?
If you were among the first humans to adapt to this ecosystem, where would you settle?
Ultimately, how big of a human population can we handle here?
What are the most likely shifts in patterns and systems from predicted climate change impacts?
What, in your view, is the suite of social, economic and environmental policies that would guarantee the sustainability of our bioregion looking toward the year 2050?
Puget Sound Contour Lines
The contours show the ancient, weathered knuckles of the mountains and the wide flat flood plains with sediment and minerals deposited by the down ward pull of the rivers. The swirling masses of crumpled contours to the west and east define our fertile lowland home like bookends made of giant muffins. Each contour represents a 200 foot interval in elevation. The watersheds weave through the puzzle pieces of rock and mountains like roots underneath a forest.
What geological and hydrological features are visible based on contour lines alone?
Where would you build roads, railroads, towns, or ports?
Can you image these same sets of 200 foot intervals continuing under the steep waters of Puget Sound?
Who first developed the idea of drawing contours on a page to show relative elevation gain?
Can you apply the same system to studying, say, air quality or noise pollution?
Watersheds - WRIA 7, 8, 9
Water flows from the ridgelines that form the natural boundaries around each watershed. This map unites the three major watersheds of Central Puget Sound. To the north is the Snoqualmie-Snohomish Watershed. In the middle is the Lake Washington-Cedar-Sammamish Watershed. And to the south is the Green-Duwamish Watershed. The color changes with each watershed are the drainage areas of each stream that contributes its flow to the whole. So a watershed isn’t really the stream or the river, it’s the entire landscape. Problems upstream can affect the whole system downstream. A healthy watershed makes a healthy community. WRIA stands for Water Resource Inventory Area which is a management unit for making decisions about salmon recovery.
Where are the boundaries of your watershed? Your neighborhood stream?
How do these natural boundaries compare to jurisdictional lines drawn by humans such as cities and school districts?
What issues and opportunities arise if our cities and school districts boundaries were redrawn to be one and the same as the natural drainage areas of our watershed?
Salmon Spawning Distribution
Healthy habitat for salmon includes clean, cold, oxygenated water, access to migration pathways, streamside riparian habitats that provide food and shade, gravel beds free of silt and the right amount of stream flow to keep from drying up in the summer or scouring out with heavy rains in the fall. For millions of years, salmon have adapted their life histories to these dynamic ecosystem conditions. Now Chinook Salmon are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Numerous partners in WRIA 7, 8 and 9 are working hard to balance the needs of human development and salmon recovery.
Watershed-wide priorities include protecting forests, reducing impervious surfaces, managing stormwater flows, improving water quality, conserving water, restoring vegetation along stream banks, and softening shorelines. Say you have a budget of a million dollars. Its not enough to do everything, but enough to start something...
How would you prioritize salmon recovery efforts?
Who are the most crucial stakeholders to engage?
How do you figure in the role of commercial fishing, fish farming and hatcheries?
What about your legal obligation to local Tribes who signed treaties with fishing rights 150 years ago?
What about the slow, cumulative impacts of climate change and ocean acidification? How do you sort out the right actions in such a complex system?
search…Puget Sound Partnership Salmon Recovery Plan Salmon Habitat Recovery- Snoqualmie Watershed Forum
Puget Sound Geology
Millions of years of tectonic and volcanic activity have formed our place on Earth. Eroded by rain as fast as it’s built by fire, our home is an active place changing constantly at about the same pace your fingernails grow. Notice the crumpled paper ridgelines of the Cascades, the sharp fault lines that transect Puget Sound and the colorful finger painting that circumnavigates the Olympics. Study the legend on the map to explore the time frame and composition of the geologic layers.
How do I figure out what the geologic layers mean?
If we were to animate the sequence of geologic activity, what’s the narrative plot line?
What is the geologic future of this region?
What is the relationship between geology, hydrology, soils and civilization here?
Puget Sound Stream Network
Water flows everywhere. It’s lazy. It lets gravity dictate every choice. Every time it rains, the water travels downhill looking for a place to gather. Mountain trickles become streams, tributaries convene as rivers and rivers flow into large water bodies like Lake Washington or Puget Sound. Yet the only reason for streams and rivers is that this is the tiny bit of rainfall that doesn’t soak into the ground. What happens on all of the rest of the landscape matters a lot.
Can you find your local stream? The nearest lake?
Where does your community get its drinking water? Who pays for it? How much does it cost relative to other cities? Will we have enough as population pressure increases?
If most of the rain that falls infiltrates and soaks into the ground, what happens when we interrupt this pattern with our roof tops, sidewalks, parking lots and roads?
search…Seattle Public Utilities Cedar River Watershed Introduction to stormwater in King County
Cities with Urban Growth Boundaries
Notice how our cities are all clustered downstream near the estuaries of major rivers. Hundreds of years ago Native American villages clustered in a similar way, following the water. Today, our densely populated region is expanding quickly. Urban Growth Boundaries help cities plan ahead and protect habitats by preventing urban sprawl. Every city is required to create a Comprehensive Plan and update it every five years to guide decision making about growth within these boundaries.
What are the top ten reasons for why so many cities are clustered around the Puget Sound, or along major rivers and other large water bodies? Stretch your thinking.
What happens when the urban growth boundaries fill up with people? Then what? How will we make decisions about building type, building height and the distribution of parks, forests and community gardens?
How do city boundaries compare to natural watershed boundaries? What about school district boundaries?
Puget Sound School Districts
These boundaries represent the way we have decided as a society to organize learning. Notice that the school districts come in all shapes and sizes. Many cover several cities and some cut right through watersheds. How and when were the decisions made to divide the landscape in this way? Each shape is a political entity with an elected board of directors who hire a superintendent who hires administrators who hire teachers who teach students. What policy decisions are common among school districts in Puget Sound? Which policy decisions are unique? Which school districts are leading with respect to integrating sustainability education, including actions to help reduce polluted stormwater runoff? Where is your school district on this map?
How did your school district get its geographic shape? What sustainability or stormwater polices shape your school district?
How many streams flow through your school district?
Where does your drinking water come from at your school? Are there any residents in your school district that depend on wells and high quality groundwater for drinking?
Where does you wastewater go? How many residents in your school district are not connected to the wastewater system but by use a septic system on their own property? How does that work with the ground water supply?
When stormwater flows off the landscape in your school district where does it go?
How green are the buildings in your district? How many school green teams? Does your school district have a strategy for integrating sustainability education as part of the core curriculum?
How much money does your school district pay each year on its stormwater fees? If these fees are waived or discounted, what is the current obligation of each district to support stormwater education?
search…King County Surface Water Management Fee