Today, the Washington state Department of Natural Resources will designate the 24,000-acre Protection Island Aquatic Reserve, bringing to more than 60,000 acres the amount of aquatic lands protected by the state within the last month.
The formal designation ceremony for the Protection Island Aquatic Reserve will be at 1:30 p.m. today, Nov. 3, at the Gardiner Community Center, 980 Old Gardiner Road in Gardiner.
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.
"Within a month we have taken dramatic steps forward to protect these important Puget Sound habitats," said Dave Peeler, programs director at People For Puget Sound, whose members have supported both Protection Island and Smith and Minor Island designations.
"Protecting these aquatic lands from future harmful 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 so much of our marine life depends on will be protected."
Protection Island, located between Sequim and Port Townsend in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, provides breeding and rearing habitat for many migratory birds and waterfowl, including tufted puffins, harlequin ducks, double-crested cormorants and bald eagles. The area supports seals and sea lions and has extensive eelgrass and kelp beds surrounding the island.