Proper “Anchor Management” can ensure seas are accessible; habitat is protected

DNR “Anchormen” Chris Robertson, left, and Kristian Tollefson pull unauthorized makeshift anchors from the floor of Bellingham Bay Feb. 9. DNR Photo

Much of Washington was built on a maritime economy. Many Puget Sound communities are set up for boaters to anchor just offshore to access enjoy the sights, sounds, smells and services of seaside markets.

Too often, however, that access is limited by boaters who anchor boats off shore for longer than the 30 days allowed by law.

image015The Washington State Department of Natural Resources is responsible for ensuring shoreline access points are clear for all to enjoy. Often, this means removing unauthorized mooring buoys anchored in waterways.

Protecting Precious Habitat

Not only did this effort ensure clear space for all who bring their boats to one of Washington’s most distinctive communities, but it also removed makeshift anchors that create hazards for the waterfront environment.

image011One of these anchors was an old outboard motor, others were just collected pieces of heavy metals.  These makeshift anchors tend to drag along the sea floor, damaging kelp and eelgrass beds and disrupting precious habitat for marine life.

Prior to the removal, DNR tagged all the buoys and publicized the activity through the local newspaper so that anyone could retrieve their property either before or after the cleanup, no questions asked. Anchors will be held at DNR’s Sedro-Woolley headquarters for 30 days so that the owners may retrieve them.

Ongoing Effort

DNR has previously taken similar actions in the San Juans, in Friday Harbor and Deer Harbor in 2014. More removal of unauthorized buoys is scheduled later this year for the San Juans in Fisherman’s Bay and Mitchell Bay and in Birch Bay near Point Whitehorn.

DNR authorizes hundreds of mooring buoys across the state. Contact DNR to authorize your mooring buoy, whether existing or planned, and help keep our seas clear and habitat safe.