DNR would like to thank the many boaters, Vashon and Maury Island community members, and other interested citizens for providing their ideas on a proposed recreational mooring buoy plan being developed for Quartermaster Harbor. Our two recent workshops on May 31 and June 27 on Vashon Island drew good turnouts. We appreciate the participants’ thoughtful responses and insights about boating and environmental concerns.
To provide safer navigational access and to better protect the harbor’s marine environment, DNR is considering management options to address mooring buoy locations in the harbor, primarily in the more congested areas of Burton Cove and Dockton. The goal of the Quartermaster Harbor Mooring Buoy Plan is to meet the existing and future demand for mooring buoys in the sheltered locations that boaters prefer, while implementing best management practices for navigational safety and environmental protection.
In developing the mooring buoy plan, we’ve asked boaters and the community to help us map and inventory the current locations of their mooring buoys and to identify those buoys that might be abandoned or no longer in use.
Most importantly, we are asking mooring buoy users to apply for a mooring buoy authorization.
For years, people have installed mooring buoys throughout the harbor, few of which have been legally authorized. Underwater photos and videos of these buoys reveal a mix of anchoring systems, including an old engine block and 55-gal drums filled with concrete. These types of anchors usually don’t provide adequate holding strength for vessels and can scour the bottom and harm aquatic vegetation, including sensitive herring spawning habitat.
DNR will require that any new mooring buoy systems it may authorize are properly installed, provide secure anchorage, and avoid environmental impacts. Some boaters have commented about the potential expense of removing existing mooring buoys and replacing them with upgraded buoy systems. As part of evaluating management alternatives, DNR is considering options to keep buoy installation and maintenance costs reasonable.
Maury Island Aquatic Reserve
Quartermaster Harbor is located within the Maury Island Environmental Aquatic Reserve, a 5,530-acre area of state-owned aquatic lands. DNR manages this reserve to protect its diverse array of habitats and species, including eelgrass and kelp beds, sand and mudflats, as well as important spawning grounds for Pacific herring, surf smelt, and sand lance.
The proposed Quartermaster Harbor Mooring Buoy Plan would be a supplement to the overall Maury Island Environmental Aquatic Reserve Management Plan, adopted in 2004. (See page 40, “Recreational Mooring Buoys and Docks.”)
Next steps for the mooring buoy plan
The proposed Quartermaster Harbor Mooring Buoy Plan will undergo public review through the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) process later this summer. During the SEPA review, people will have an opportunity to provide input on the plan and DNR’s recommendations for addressing recreational mooring buoys over time.
For more information about the Quartermaster Harbor Mooring Buoy Plan, download our fact sheet. For additional questions or to be notified when the SEPA review process begins, contact Lisa Randlette, environmental planner, 360-902-1085.
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