Seagrasses are recognized as a critical nearshore habitat throughout greater Puget Sound for fish, waterfowl and invertebrates. Many of the fish and waterfowl supported by seagrass habitat are commercially and recreationally important. Seagrasses improve water quality through absorbtion of carbon dioxide and sequestration of nutrients. The complex structure seagrass creates in the nearshore reduces water flow, allows particulates to settle out, and stabilizes sediments. Seagrasses have declined due to activities that affect nearshore water quality and habitat. Changes to shorelines, dredging, mooring buoys and overwater structures directly impact seagrass habitat while increases in runoff and sewage discharge affect water quality.
Seagrass restoration in Puget Sound
The Department of Natural Resources is the lead agency for seagrass restoration in greater Puget Sound, the portion of the Salish Sea within US jurisdicton. The primary objective has been to restore native eelgrass (Zostera marina L.), because of its widespread distribution, habitat importance, and susceptibility to direct (e.g., physical damage) and indirect (e.g., water quality degradation) disturbances. Eelgrass restoration aligns with management strategies for the recovery of essential nearshore fish habitat for listed salmonids, rockfish and other species of recreational and commercial importance.
Eelgrass Restoration Process
Since 2012, the Nearshore Habitat Program has transplanted eelgrass throughout Puget Sound with a focus on restoring areas where eelgrass historically grew. It is an iterative, adaptive process that starts with a suitability model to identify transplant sites that will ensure the highest possible success.
- Learn more about DNR's seagrass restoration work in a storymap.
- Read about the eelgrass recovery strategy.
- Learn about the site selection process.
- Learn how eelgrass restoration can ameliorate ocean acidification.
- Read the abstract for the peer-reviewed publication on eelgrass restoration site suitability assessment process in Puget Sound.
Restoration Project Reports
Reports on eelgrass restoration projects in collaboration with the Nearshore Habitat Program.
- Summary of eelgrass restoration in the Pacific Northwest with recommendations for success.
- Eelgrass restoration site suitability model development.
- Eelgrass restoration model refinement and regulatory recommendations.
- Eelgrass restoration methods, results, and recommendations.
- Eelgrass habitat suitability maps.
- Eelgrass Restoration in Puget Sound Summary Report: 2012-2015
- Eelgrass Restoration in Puget Sound Summary Report: 2016-2017
- Eelgrass Restoration in Puget Sound Summary Report: 2018
- King County eelgrass restoration and monitoring 2020-2022
Seagrass Restoration Storymap
Learn more about DNR's seagrass restoration work in a storymap.