SEATTLE -

The Obama administration is taking steps to restore and protect Puget Sound, one of the nation's largest estuaries.

Christy Goldfuss, managing director of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, on Tuesday announced a new federal task force dedicated to identifying restoration priorities for Puget Sound.

The task force will include several federal agencies, including the Navy, Army Corps of Engineers, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and others.

At a news conference in Seattle, Goldfuss said the federal government has a critical role to play in protecting Puget Sound, and the administration is dedicating resources and its commitment.

She was joined by Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, American Indian tribal leaders, elected officials and others.

Many of them hailed the federal efforts, saying it will give a much needed boost to state, local and tribal efforts to protect water quality, restore salmon runs and conserve natural resources in the region.