Protection Island Aquatic Reserve ceremony Wednesday – PDN

Given that the editor of this news that you are reading is the one quoted below, our answer to Mr. King’s comment would be, “It’s about preventive maintenance rather than fixing something that’s broken.” The proposal is on the DNR web site.


*11/1/10 Peninsula Daily News

By Charlie Bermant – Peninsula Daily News

GARDINER — A ceremony designating 23,778 acres of state-owned tidelands and bed lands around Protection Island as a state aquatic reserve is planned in Gardiner on Wednesday.

The ceremony formally designating the Protection Island Aquatic Reserve will be at 1:30 p.m. at the Gardiner Community Center, 980 Old Gardiner Road.

The state Department of Natural Resources reserve expands protection boundaries around the 400-acre island, which is at the mouth of Discovery Bay, from the west end of Port Townsend down to the Gardiner area.

The new boundaries will not increase boating restrictions or limit fishing, including treaty fishing by the Jamestown S’Klallam, Lower Elwha Klallam and Port Gamble S’Klallam, DNR said.

Restrict development

A major reason for the aquatic reserve is to restrict development.

“There will be a lot of efforts to harness tidal energy in this area,” said Port Townsend’s Al Bergstein, a board member of People for Puget Sound, which nominated the area for a reserve.

“A lot of birds and other species rely on Protection Island to feed their young, and we think it’s important that they are not disturbed by water turbines or submerged cables,” Bergstein said.

He added that there are “plenty of other places where these ventures can operate in the area.”

The reserve is on DNR-managed tidelands and bed lands.

Federally protected

Protection Island itself already is federally protected.

The Department of the Interior has established the island as a national wildlife refuge.

Protection Island is owned and operated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as part of the National Wildlife Refuge System.

The western portion of the island is managed by state Department of Fish and Wildlife as the Zella M. Schultz Seabird Sanctuary.

Federal restrictions keep boats from approaching the island closer than  200 yards.

There is a 2,000-foot air buffer in place to avoid disturbing the sensitive wildlife.

The state aquatic reserve designation does not expand the restriction on boats or fishing.

It does not grant DNR new authority to regulate fishing or boating, DNR has said.

“DNR does not have authority to manage recreational fishing, hunting, crabbing, shell fishing or boating,” the agency said when the idea was under consideration.

“This will not be an area where fishing will be off limits,” said Kyle Murphy, DNR spokesman, during a public meeting in Gardiner in March 2009.

“We don’t regulate fishing, and we don’t regulate boating.

“We won’t restrict people’s access to the site. Use of the site is supported.”

‘It ain’t broken’

Gardiner resident Wayne King, a Jefferson County Public Utility District commissioner who spoke in opposition to the plan at the March 2009 meeting, thinks the designation will add another level of unnecessary bureaucracy.

“They say this protects the island, but I don’t know what they are protecting it from,” he said last week.

Said King during the 2009 a public meeting in Gardiner: “We already have a 200-yard buffer around the island where boats aren’t allowed.

“My question is,” King said then, “if it ain’t broken, what are we protecting?”

About 70 percent of the seabird population of Puget Sound and the Strait of Juan de Fuca nest on the island, which is located between Sequim and Port Townsend.

The island has one of the largest nesting colonies of rhinoceros auklets in the world and the largest nesting colony of glaucous-winged gulls in Washington.

It contains one of the last two nesting colonies of tufted puffins in the Puget Sound area.

About 1,000 harbor seals depend on the island for a pupping and rest area.

Habitat for birds

It also provides breeding and rearing habitat for such birds as harlequin ducks, double-crested cormorants and bald eagles.

Extensive eelgrass and kelp beds surround the island.

Dave Peeler, programs director at People For Puget Sound, said that protecting the aquatic area from development “and restoring habitat damaged from past practices will ensure that marine birds and mammals will have a safe haven and that the eelgrass and kelp beds [that] so much of our marine life depends on will be protected.”

Said Bergstein: “This is a critical action for the protection of wildlife.”

Within the last month, DNR has moved to protect more than 60,000 acres of aquatic area.

In mid-October, the agency designated the Smith and Minor Islands Aquatic Reserve and adopted its management plan protecting 36,600 aquatic acres off the west coast of Whidbey Island.


Jefferson County Reporter Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or

2 Responses

  1. Sorry Jack! I assumed, since this is targeted to the Olympic Peninsula, that folks out here will know where it is.

    Protection Island is in the Strait of Juan De Fuca between Port Townsend and Discovery Bay. It’s the largest breeding ground for seabirds in the Puget Sound.,+Sequim,+WA+98382&gl=us&ei=0InYTMXjNYTAsAP2u4jTBw&sa=X&oi=geocode_result&ct=title&resnum=1&ved=0CBoQ8gEwAA

  2. Where exactly is protection island located? Somewhere in the Atlantic, I assume?

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