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Own a buoy? Here's your chance to help restore eelgrass and save money too

Boaters interested in greening their mooring buoys can now save some “green” doing so.

In 2009, Friends of the San Juans received a grant from the Washington State Salmon Recovery Funding Board to map buoys in San Juan County and develop a cost share program for mooring buoy owners to retrofit buoys in priority areas of the county.

Friends cost-share program will provide financial and technical assistance, including permitting, to eligible participants.

“The pilot project is really a great opportunity, a win-win for the marine environment and boaters”, Friends Science Director Tina Whitman said. “It’s low cost, directly benefits habitat, and still fully supports the boaters need for safe and secure moorage.

As a pilot, we’re looking for people to get involved and help make this program a success.”

Friends sought funding for the project because of the high numbers of buoys in the county, and their concentrations in embayments that also support sensitive marine habitats such as eelgrass.

While buoys that are properly sited and designed with modern methods provide a lower impact moorage alternative than docks or anchoring, a local study conducted in the late 1990’s found that a majority of buoys were harming eelgrass.

San Juan County has one-third of all the mooring buoys in Washington’s inland waters and many are located in sensitive marine habitat, including eelgrass, herring spawning grounds and the shallow water that juvenile salmon depend on for feeding and resting on their seaward migration.

Friends found 1,914 buoys when it conducted field surveys of county waters in 2009.

Friends looks forward to working with interested mooring buoy owners to reduce impacts to eelgrass.

For more information on how to participate, contact Friends, at 378-2319., or visit; www.sanjuans.org.

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