People for Puget Sound is ceasing operations

Seattle P-I

Posted 9/11/2012

Seattle, WA – People for Puget Sound, one of the Northwest’s highest profile conservation groups, will cease operations later this fall and try to transfer its work to other environmental activists.

“We don’t have the runway to keep going,” said Tom Bancroft, People for Puget Sound executive director, who succeeded PPS’s founding boss Kathy Fletcher when Fletcher retired last year after 20 years at the post.

Bancroft explained that the organization experienced rapid growth in membership and activities over the past few years but that “our revenues did not keep up.”  The organization took out a $300,000 loan in 2010, which has come due.

People for Puget Sound endured a mass layoff last fall, which saw six full-time and five part time staff members — out of a staff of 25 — lose their jobs.

Bancroft said the organization’s policy, advocacy and education work will be assumed by the Washington Environmental Council, which will keep alive the People for Puget Sound name.  Discussions are underway to have EarthCorps assume environmental restoration work.

People for Puget Sound was one of several organizations midwifed into existence in the early 1990′s by the Bullitt Foundation:  Dorothy Bullitt, founder of King Broadcasting, was a self-described “water rat” who ran the Grand Canyon at age 89 and helped paddle a canoe around Lopez Island in her early 90′s.

Other organizations included Save Our Wild Salmon and an expanded role for the Save Georgia Strait Alliance in British Columbia.

But the Great Recession has had an impact on the environmental movement.

Certain organizations — Climate Solutions and Forterra (formerly the Cascade Land Conservancy) have attracted corporate sponsorship and big names to speak at big fundraising breakfasts.  Others have not been so successful.

As well, the Puget Sound Partnership — Gov. Chris Gregoire’s ambitious cleanup program for the Sound — has run into management difficulties and had to deal with charges of cronyism.

Bancroft came to Puget Sound Partnership after a stint as vice president and chief scientist with the National Audubon Society.  He was also a vice president of The Wilderness Society.

“We’re trying hard to keep the mission going:  It is a fantastic mission that brought me here,” he said Tuesday.

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