What is an Aquatic Reserve?

Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) establishes aquatic reserves throughout the state to protect important native ecosystems. In addition, these reserves promote the preservation, restoration and enhancement of state-owned aquatic lands that are of special  environmental, scientific or educational interest. DNR’s Aquatic Reserve Program brings together local and state governments, non-governmental organizations, Tribes, and citizens to develop and carry out site-specific management plans.

How many Aquatic Reserves are there in Washington? Where are they located?

To date, eight areas have been designated as Aquatic Reserves in Washington state: Cherry Point, Cypress Island, Fidalgo Bay, Lake Kapowsin, Maury Island, Nisqually Reach, Protection Island, and Smith and Minor Islands. Citizen stewardship committees support six of these reserves.

How is a Reserve established?

Public and private organizations and individuals may propose a site for aquatic reserve designation. A simplified version of the process begins with interested parties submiting a letter of intent to DNR’s Aquatic Reserves Program. If the site meets the Aquatic Reserve Program criteria, DNR and the site proponent will develop an official proposal and host open houses for public input and review. The last step is to develop a draft management plan of goals and objectives for the site to ensure proper protection.