Aquatic Reserves

Aquatic Reserves map
Click on the image above to launch the Aquatic Reserves
Program Data Viewer.

Washington’s aquatic lands contain remarkable and unique habitat that supports an abundance of diverse wildlife. Since 2004, the Department of Natural Resources has established eight aquatic reserves throughout the state to protect important native ecosystems on state-owned aquatic lands. 
Benefits of an Aquatic Reserve:
  • Conserve and enhance native habitats
  • Protect and restore natural functions and processes of the shoreline and intertidal zones
  • Promote stewardship of aquatic habitats and species in collaboration with citizens, tribes, resource managers and other stakeholders
DNR Aquatic Reserves Program At-A-Glance
A Look at Our Aquatic Reserves

Aquatic Reserve Management

Through the aquatic reserves, DNR promotes the preservation, restoration and enhancement of state-owned aquatic lands that are of special educational, scientific or environmental interest. The aquatic reserve designation does not affect private property, adjacent land ownership, hunting or fishing. Always check the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife website for up-to-date information on hunting and fishing and shellfishing regulations.
DNR takes a collaborative approach towards reserve management and encourages public and stakeholder input. Each aquatic reserve has a management plan with reserve-specific goals and objectives. 
Establishing New Aquatic Reserves
Aquatic reserves can be located on state-owned aquatic lands throughout the state. Each reserve must address environmental, scientific and/or educational needs. Establishing a new aquatic reserve is a lengthy process that allows for scientific scrutiny and extensive public input.

Puget SoundCorps

PSC conducting seagrass surveys
The Puget SoundCorps (PSC) is an arm of the Washington Conservation Corps focused on monitoring and restoring habitats throughout Puget Sound. Each year, a team of six PSC members are the “boots on the ground” for the aquatic reserves program. Examples of PSC projects include: water quality monitoring, forage fish beach spawning habitat surveys, intertidal seagrass surveys, marine debris clean-ups and organizing outreach events for local communities. To learn more about the Puget SoundCorps, visit the DNR website
The PSC publishes quarterly newsletters that feature current work and events across the aquatic reserves. Subscribe to the mailing list or visit the archive to read the most recent aquatic reserves newsletter.

Get InvolvedCitizen science - intertidal surveys at Fidalgo Bay

Citizen Stewardship Committees (CSCs) are groups comprised of local community members who conduct citizen science monitoring and environmental education in the reserves. They also help develop and implement aquatic reserves management plans. For more information on the committees and how to get involved, please visit Washington Aquatic Reserves.