Jefferson County’s 254 marine shoreline miles include a rocky stretch on the northern outer coast, bounded by Clallam County to the north and Grays Harbor County to the south; the easternmost extent of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Admiralty Inlet and northern Hood Canal. Most of the County’s 30,000 people live in its eastern edge, with Port Townsend the county seat and largest city at nearly 9,000 residents. Port Townsend has a vibrant marine trades economy, with nationally-renowned shipwrights, sail makers and riggers, systems/fabrication experts and marine industrial firms. It is home to the Northwest Maritime Center, a variety of marine science and maritime education programs, and the Wooden Boat Festival, which draws 35,000 visitors annually.
The Jefferson MRC serves as an advisory group to the Board of County Commissioners. Its 17 members hold experience in shellfish aquaculture, conservation, education, land-use, arts and marine science, as well as state, county and local government. MRC members work closely with homeowners, business owners, outdoor enthusiasts and fishermen to reduce impacts to marine habitat in an ecologically-rich area. Jefferson MRC has created effective stewardship messages aimed at local and visiting boaters.
Jefferson MRC’s voluntary no-anchor zones continue to effectively protect eelgrass and shellfish beds at three locations. In Port Townsend, the MRC expanded their voluntary no anchor zone in 2015, protecting an additional 36 acres of eelgrass habitat. Volunteers maintained and reinstalled the seasonal buoys, which identifies the areas to boaters. The areas were also added to Active Captain, an online navigational mapping application. The project is based on voluntary participation, so success relies on the effectiveness of Jefferson MRC’s outreach. Monitoring of boats anchored at the annual Wooden Boat Festival consistently shows nearly 100% compliance, diverting an estimated 200 boat anchors from damaging important eelgrass habitat.
Last year, Jefferson MRC worked with the City of Port Townsend, WSU Extension and volunteers from the crew of the schooner Adventuress to install two new rain gardens. These beautiful plots filter contaminants from stormwater to improve water quality in Port Townsend Bay. Community support remains high for these and future projects, as demonstrated by the commitments made by adjacent landowners, project partners, and community volunteers who will maintain the gardens. Attractive interpretive signage has resulted in more local residents inquiring about rain gardens, and the MRC plans to expand this work in the coming year.
- Voluntary Eelgrass Protection Zone - 2015 project expansion to include an additional 36 acres of eelgrass habitat, 99% compliance with no-anchor zone
- Rain Gardens - Strategically-placed plots filter contaminants from rain water, mitigating pollution of Port Townsend bay
- Olympia Oyster Monitoring - Monitored outplanted oysters
- Education and Outreach - Theatre preview ads and signage reached nearly 850 people in 2015
- Eelgrass Mapping - In 2015, no anchor eelgrass protection areas were added to Active Captain, an online mapping application for boaters.