Research by Topic


The Real Story of Puget Sound’s Disappearing Herring

Pacific herring, SteveWyshy, Flickr.

Puget Sound’s Pacific herring are a small fish with a whale-sized slate of problems. Many of the local herring stocks are in decline and despite some localized efforts to save them, their numbers haven’t bounced back. In this research memo, Sightline looks past the abundant rumors to examine the best science on Puget Sound herring. Are they jeopardized by disease, pollution, increasing numbers of predators, climate change, shoreline development, or fishing? And what about a new export terminal proposed at Cherry Point, home to one of the Sound’s most distinctive and threatened herring populations?

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The Promise of Permeable Pavement

Center for Neighborhood Technology, flickr

Permeable pavement is one of the most promising green solutions that can help reduce and clean up polluted stormwater runoff. Like conventional pavement, it can be made of asphalt or concrete that’s either poured in place or sold as pavers, and it can be
used in a variety of settings, including on parking lots, low-traffic roadways, driveways, and sidewalks. Read more »

Toxic Couches

Toxic Couches Infographic

No study has ever proven that California’s 12-second rule for fire prevention makes furniture safer—but it does fill our homes with toxic flame retardants linked to a host of ailments. Just how serious is the problem? Sightline’s infographic makes the case. View graphic »

Northwest Ocean Acidification

The hidden costs of fossil fuel pollution

Fishing Boat

Every day, oceans do us a huge favor by absorbing about a third of the carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere by human activities. But as we burn more fossil fuels and clear forests, our oceans absorb more and become more acidic. The result is water that’s potentially lethal to a large swath of creatures that play a huge role in aquatic ecosystems, the Northwest economy, and our dinner plates. Read more »

Curbing Stormwater Pollution

Cleaning Up the Northwest's Toxic Runoff

Water flowing from storm drain

Stormwater doesn’t match the traditional image of pollution. There are no factory smokestacks belching waste. Yet polluted stormwater packs a punch. Sightline’s report, Curbing Stormwater Pollution, looks at the challenges we face and the opportunities we have to clean up our waterways. Read more »

Curbing Stormwater in Puget Sound

The Case for Low-Impact Development

Storm Drain

Rain may not seem like a likely culprit for many of Puget Sound’s pollution woes. But on it’s journey from sky to stream it picks up a host of toxics from our roofs, roadways, and yards. The end result is a toxic cocktail that spills into our waterways. This report catalogs the challenges polluted stormwater poses for the Puget Sound region, and highlights local Low Impact Development projects that are helping solve the problem. Read more »

Northwest Wildlife Icons and their Ecosystems Still at Risk

Cascadia Scorecard update finds uneven progress

Wildlife trends for five Northwest species

According to Sightline’s Cascadia Scorecard, several of the region’s wildlife icons are still at risk. Overall, gains for salmon, orcas, and wolves outweighed declines in caribou and sage-grouse, pushing the index to an all-time high. Still, more progress is needed. Read more »

Maps: Current and Historic Wildlife Ranges

Map of gray wolf range in Cascadia

Maps showing current and historical ranges for selected species, including grizzly bear, sage-grouse, caribou, salmon, and gray wolf. Read more »

Wildlife Abundance for Five Indicator Species


Despite recent gains by wolves and Chinook salmon, key wildlife populations are well below their historic abundance. View graphic »

Northern Rocky Mountain Gray Wolf Population


After efforts to reintroduce gray wolves in many states, populations are starting to make a comeback. They remain, however, far below their historical abundance. View graphic »