OLYMPIA – Gov. Jay Inslee today signed legislation to conserve and restore the plants that are foundational to the state’s marine ecosystems.  

Senate Bill 5619, known as the Kelp Forest and Eelgrass Meadow Conservation Initiative, was sponsored by Sen. Liz Lovelett (D-Anacortes) at the request of the Department of Natural Resources.

 “It’s no secret that Washington is home to the most beautiful natural environment in the country, but our ecosystems are facing an existential crisis at every level,” said Lovelett. “Kelp and eelgrass are a crucial resource in our fight against climate change. They work to effectively sequester carbon in our oceans and are a vital part of our ecosystem.”  

Recent analyses show a decline of more than 90% in bull kelp in the south and central Puget Sound in the last 150 years, along with similarly disturbing trends among other kelp and eelgrass species. These plants are the critical foundation of our ocean ecosystems and key in salmon recovery. SB 5619 will conserve or restore 10,000 acres of these forests and meadows by 2040. 

“Today I am grateful to see our state prioritize policies that ensure every species is protected for generations to come,” Lovelett said.  “Thank you to Rep. Sharon Shewmake for her ardent support of this legislation!” 

The bill goes into effect on June 9, 2022.