DNR adopts mooring buoy management plan for Quartermaster Harbor

Over the years, increased demand for access and moorage in the harbor has raised concerns for navigational safety as more and more boaters try to squeeze into a finite space. The mooring buoy plan establishes buoy fields in Dockton, Burton Cove, and Judd Creek. Vessels owners will apply to DNR for a mooring buoy authorization in one of these locations.

Public input valuable to plan development

DNR began working with community members and boaters on the plan two years ago through a series of public workshops and a public review and comment period on the draft plan.

“The public was instrumental in helping craft this mooring buoy plan,” Duffy said. “We really appreciate everyone who came to our workshops and provided their thoughtful comments during the public review process.”

In putting together the plan, DNR asked interested citizens to help inventory existing, illegally installed mooring buoys, some of which have been abandoned and have the potential to create navigational hazards. In addition, many of these buoys use anchor systems—such as old engines and concrete blocks— that can harm the seafloor and disrupt habitat.

Key features in the Quartermaster Harbor Mooring Buoy Management Plan will:

  • · Establish mooring buoy fields in Dockton, Burton, and Judd Creek. With input from the public, DNR developed locations for mooring buoys in these three areas to accommodate the needs of boaters.
  • · Require embedded helical or other DNR-approved anchor systems that use midline floats.Embedded anchor systems are less damaging than other systems, such as concrete blocks. They also require a much shorter scope of anchor line, which will allow for a greater density of vessels. DNR will consider several kinds of embedded anchor systems, as long as they can provide the needed holding power while allowing space for an optimal number of buoys and protecting the seafloor.
  • · Streamline the permitting process by allowing DNR to obtain the required permits from King County, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. Boaters will only need to submit one application to DNR, which includes the use authorization (lease) and the permits.
  • · Designate a navigational channel in Dockton and include a voluntary no-anchor zone.
  • · Remove abandoned and derelict mooring buoys.
  • · Promote the establishment of a public boater access area in Burton Cove.

Next steps…carrying out the plan
With the adoption of the plan, DNR will now apply for the required permits from King County, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. Boaters wishing to install a mooring buoy will only need to submit one application to DNR, which will cover the permits and DNR’s mooring buoy authorization.

DNR will also remove the 70-by-70-foot net pen that has been illegally moored in Dockton for several decades, along with a sunken boat beneath the net pen, and abandoned creosote pilings and mooring buoys that are scattered throughout the harbor.

For more information

DNR: Steward of state-owned aquatic lands
The 2.6 million acres of state-owned aquatic lands (mostly submerged lands) are a public trust, managed and protected by DNR for the people of Washington. DNR manages these lands to protect fish and wildlife and to facilitate commerce, navigation, and public access.

Revenue is generated from the sale of renewable resources, such as wild geoduck, as well as from leasing submerged lands for mooring buoys, marinas, docks, and other uses. This revenue is used to manage and protect the health and productivity of aquatic resources and to fund local projects that restore aquatic ecosystems and create public access to the waters of the state. 

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