17 March 2014
A partnership between the state's Department of Natural Resources (DNR), environmental groups, Native American tribes, and other residents has produced seven aquatic reserves throughout Washington. Each reserve sets aside state-owned land for preservation and restoration.
The process for establishing these reserves provides a model for strategic public handling of environmental issues. First, an individual or organization proposes a site. DNR evaluates the plan and decides whether to make it a formal proposal. Once DNR submits a formal proposal, the public has the opportunity to comment.
Even the management process employs public participation. After a proposed reserve has been accepted, a management plan is created. Currently, citizen committees manage five of the seven sites. Along with DNR and the tribes, partners in the Aquatic Reserves Program include the Washington Environmental Council, RE Sources for Sustainable Communities, the Nisqually Reach Nature Center, and Whidbey Watershed Stewards. For more information about the program, click here.
Collaborations like Washington's Aquatic Reserves Program show the potential of harnessing our collective power to make positive environmental impacts.