Aquatic Lands Habitat Conservation Plan
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Aquatic Lands Habitat Conservation Plan 

 Judd Creek  Bellingham Marina 

Aquatic Lands Habitat Conservation Plan
As steward of more than 2.6 million acres of state-owned aquatic lands, the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) ensures that the people of Washington benefit from the use of aquatic lands while also ensuring environmental protection of the state’s aquatic resources.

PUBLIC COMMENT PERIOD on the Draft EIS will run through December 4, 2014 

How can I comment on the proposed Aquatic Lands Habitat Conservation Plan?
Send written comments to: Tim Romanski, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 510 Desmond Drive SE, Suite 102, Lacey, Washington 98503; OR Scott Anderson, NOAA Fisheries, 510 Desmond Drive SE, Suite 103, Lacey, Washington 98503. Comments also may be submitted by e-mail, to In the subject line of the email, please include the identifier: WDNR Aquatic Lands HCP DEIS.   
All comments must be received no later than December 4, 2014.


USFWS Washington Fish and Wildlife Office Website

DRAFT Conservation Plan and related documents
September 5, 2014:
Following are the documents for the DRAFT Habitat Conservation Plan and related documents.  In addition, the Federal Services published the DRAFT Environmental Impact Statement that analyzes the potential environmental impacts of the proposed conservation plan, for public comment until December 4, 2014.

September 9, 2014 News Release

Draft Aquatic Lands HCP
Cover, Acknowledgements, Cover Letter, Table of Contents
Chapter 1: Introduction
Chapter 2: Planning Context
Chapter 3: Activities
Chapter 4: Species
Chapter 5: Operating Conservation Program
Chapter 6: Alternatives to HCP
Chapter 7: Glossary
Chapter 8: References

Draft Aquatic Lands HCP Appendices
 A.  Ecosystem Characteristics
 B.  Species Considered
 C.  Vegetation
 D.  Derelict Vessel Hydraulic Project Approval
 E.  Aquatic Reserves Implementation
 F.  Adaptive Management Monitoring
 G.  Protecting Core Remaining Habitat
 H.  Compliance Monitoring
 I.   Meeting HCP Goals
 J.  Operational Definition of an Eelgrass Bed

Draft Environmental Impact Statement


What is an HCP?
A habitat conservation plan defines how lands are managed and the measures used to ensure long-term, landscape-based protection of federally listed and non-listed species considered at risk of extinction. The plan is a formalized contract between the land manager (DNR) and the federal services agencies charged with protecting endangered and threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. 

Under the Aquatic Lands HCP, DNR will commit to strategies that protect and enhance habitats that support at-risk species. The plan emphasizes habitat conservation and recovery, and ecosystem health as the basis for strong long-term management. The aquatic HCP will guide how and where uses of state-owned aquatic lands will occur.

Learn more about HCPs.

Why is DNR pursuing an HCP for state-owned aquatic lands?
The population of Washington State continues to grow, resulting in increased pressure on our aquatic ecosystems. Balancing public benefit and environmental preservation is proving to be a difficult task.

An aquatic HCP will help DNR protect sensitive, threatened, and endangered species that are native to Washington State and depend on aquatic habitat. An aquatic HCP will also ensure that activities authorized by DNR, such as leasing for marinas and aquaculture, can continue while avoiding and minimizing impacts to endangered species. By committing to the conservation strategies in the aquatic HCP, DNR and entities that lease state-owned aquatic lands will receive federal assurances of compliance with the ESA.

What species will the HCP protect?
The draft Aquatic HCP proposes a number of guidelines to help protect animals that rely on aquatic lands for all or a significant portion of their lives. The draft plan proposes to include coverage for 29 at-risk species. Find out more about each species.

The draft Aquatic HCP focuses on protecting the nearshore marine environment, lakes, and rivers, which are crucial for the health of the entire ecosystem. The plan addresses the impacts of shade, sediment compaction, disruption of the flow of water and sediment, contamination and noise.

What uses will the HCP address?
The Aquatic HCP will include specific measures to address impacts from three types of activities:

  • Overwater structures (boat ramps, launches, docks and wharves; floating homes; mooring buoys; nearshore buildings; rafts and floats; marinas; shipyards, and terminals.) 
  • Log booms (large rafts of logs that are stored in the water)
  • Shellfish aquaculture (clam, oyster and geoduck culture methods)

For more information: "Preventing Impacts to Important Aquatic Habitats"

Supporting documents for the HCP development
The following documents were developed to assist DNR with ESA compliance efforts and in the development of the Aquatic Lands Habitat Conservation Plan. 

Learn more and get involved!
At DNR, transparency is one of our guiding principles. We invite you to learn more about aquatic lands, how DNR manages them, and how the habitat conservation plan would affect them. If you would like to find out more or be notified of opportunities to become involved, contact us at 360-902-1100 or send us an email:

Federal Civil Rights
In accordance with Federal law and U.S. Department of Agriculture policy, DNR does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability. However, should a person wish to file a discrimination complaint, please write to:

USDA, Director
Office of Civil Rights
Room 326-W, Whitten Building
1400 Independence Avenue SW
Washington D.C. 20250-9410
or call 202.720.5964 (voice and TDD). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

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Lalena Amiotte
DNR's Aquatic Lands HCP Team Lead

Scott Anderson
NOAA Fisheries

Tim Romanski
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service


 Related Links

National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Coordination
Additional HCP Information