Benefits: Educational, economic, cultural, and ecological
Washington State needed a system that would maintain parts of its aquatic lands with particular ecological, educational, and scientific importance to the Salish Sea. These Aquatic Reserves also hold cultural significance for many communities, including Indigenous nations.
Since 2004, the Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has established and now manages eight Aquatic Reserves, two of which are right here in Whatcom and Skagit Counties. RE Sources works primarily with the Cherry Point and Fidalgo Bay Aquatic Reserves. Their unique purpose is not only to protect and restore species and native habitat, but also to inspire stewardship and create education and outreach opportunities within the communities and stakeholder groups involved.
The Reserves face many environmental challenges — increasing vessel traffic, water pollution, abandoned fishing gear which continues to kill fish, habitat destruction, and shoreline modification. Monitoring and learning about these aquatic ecosystems and the species they support is key to better understanding how we can protect our state’s waters through legislation and management actions. Just visiting an Aquatic Reserve deepens your understanding of the environments we are fighting to protect and leaves you with a greater sense of connection and purpose.
Volunteer community scientists are vital to these efforts.
Monitoring events also occur year-round, and you don’t need previous scientific experience to be a great volunteer! Contact our Americorps Aquatic Reserves Monitoring & Stewardship Coordinator if you are interested in getting outside and helping at Cherry Point or Fidalgo Bay Aquatic Reserve or if you are interested in attending a Citizen Stewardship Committee meeting. Visit WA DNR for more information about each Aquatic Reserve and the statewide DNR program.
Citizen Stewardship Committees are volunteer teams who steward each state Aquatic Reserve. They meet once a month and work to protect and implement management actions through environmental monitoring, education, and collaboration with governmental and non-governmental organizations. Contact our Americorps Aquatic Reserves Monitoring & Stewardship Coordinator to find out how you can help a CSC.