State seeks Islanders’ help in clearing up Quartermaster

In an effort to clear Quartermaster Harbor of abandoned and environmentally harmful mooring buoys, officials from the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will visit Vashon next week to gather feedback about buoy use in the harbor and provide information about buoy choices.

Jane Chavey, a DNR spokesperson, said the agency is concerned about the large number of abandoned buoys in the bay. Not only do the unused buoys pose a navigational hazard to other boats, she said, but many of them drag on the the bottom of the harbor, damaging the marine habitat.

“It chews up sediments and eelgrass or anything else living there; (animals) on the surface get damaged as well,” she said. 

At the workshop, scheduled for 7 p.m. next Wednesday at McMurray Middle School, DNR officials will present de-tailed aerial photos of Quartermaster Harbor that show waterfront homes and buoy locations. They hope Vashon boat owners and Quartermaster residents will show up at the meeting and help identify which buoys are unused. Those buoys could eventually be removed by the state.

“It’s definitely a participatory type of a meeting,” Chavey said. 

Officials will also present information about the kinds of buoys that cause the least damage to the underwater habitat at Quartermaster, which is part of a state aquatic reserve and harbors salmon, herring and other fish. 

Chavey said the department hopes boat owners will decide to purchase environmentally friendly buoys either now or when the time comes to replace theirs.

“We’re trying to discourage people from having buoys that drag on the sea floor as the tide goes out,” she said.

Though the focus of the workshop is to identify abandoned buoys, Chavey said DNR would also present information about mooring buoy registration. 

State law requires that boats moored more than 30 days be registered with DNR, but only about five of the many boats moored in Quartermaster are legally permitted to be there.

DNR has identified Quartermaster as one of several bays in the area it plans to more closely manage. Similar local outreach by DNR recently helped Bainbridge Island better manage its live-aboard community in Eagle Harbor, Chavey said.

“It’s an ongoing improvement for state-owned aquatic land,” she said. “We tackle projects as we can, and this is an important one we want to make sure we begin to address.”



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