A PLACE WHERE freshwater streams and rivers mix with the sea, Puget Sound is a magnificent and intricate estuary. It forms the southern portion of the broader Salish Sea ecosystem, home to a Canadian province, a U.S. state and 50-plus Native American tribes and First Nations.

The new book ‘We Are Puget Sound’ reminds us what’s at risk if we ignore the struggles of the Salish Sea

The region is the lifeblood for urban and rural communities that rely on economic opportunities and a high quality of life defined by this rich inland sea. This astonishingly beautiful waterway, surrounded by mountains and forests, also supports resident and migrating marine life — notably two iconic, interdependent endangered species: southern resident orcas and chinook salmon.

But Puget Sound’s cherished natural beauty conceals its rapidly deteriorating health after a century and a half of resource extraction, pollution and impacts from climate change and development. Recovering Puget Sound and the broader Salish Sea, essential for the survival of all the human, plant and animal communities that rely upon it, requires collaboration, innovation and a long-term commitment.

Created in partnership with Washington Environmental Council and supported by a coalition of Northwest partners, “We Are Puget Sound” is a stunning visual journey through a complex web of marine and terrestrial wildlife. It explores the regional economies of fishing and agriculture and documents the lives of the people who call this place home.

Essays by writer David L. Workman, Suquamish Tribal chairman Leonard Forsman and WEC Puget Sound program director Mindy Roberts, along with striking images from Brian Walsh and more than a dozen other professional photographers, provide inspiration as well as a call to action to protect this unique ecosystem.

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Find new places to hike, bike, paddle and ramble in a chapter on recreation from Brian Cantwell. Draw hope from profiles of inspiring individuals devoted to the Sound. Get to know Sally Brownfield of the Squaxin Island Tribe, who has spent her life protecting the indigenous Olympia oyster. Walk the beach with Kyle Petersen, a teenage volunteer naturalist with Beach Watchers.

Throughout the Salish Sea, individual and collective actions profoundly affect the future of our shared home.

“What would we safeguard and with what vigor,” environmental champion Martha Kongsgaard challenges us in a powerful foreword, “if we thought we couldn’t fail?”