We were anchored in Port Madison a few evenings ago. We’ve been here many times. When we kept the boat on Lake Union, Port Madison was often our last stop on the way home. One of the things I notice is that there is very little room for anchoring compared to years ago when we first started coming here. There are mooring buoys everywhere. I find it hard to believe all of these buoys are legally placed and permitted.
Update 6.21.19: Received a nice response from the DNR. Will post more shortly.
Update 6.14.19: Later this afternoon … I received a response from the right resource at the DNR stating they would respond to my inquiry next week.
Earlier this morning … No response to my second email. I sent a third email to the DNR’s aquatic resources devision’s general email address (email@example.com). Waiting …
Update 6.6.19: It has been a week since I emailed the folks at the DNR (firstname.lastname@example.org). So far no response. I resent the note. Will see if I get a response …
I cobbled together a few images from Google Maps and placed a marker on all the mooring buoys I could find. A high res version is here. It may not be exact, but it is close enough for my purposes. Where did all these buoys come from? How can all of these buoys be legally permitted? How many is too many?
Here is the official information on mooring buoys from the Washington State DNR. And here is a link the DNR’s mooring buoy brochure.
The requirements for placing a mooring buoy according the the DNR.
- The applicant owns residential property next to state-owned shorelands, tidelands, or related beds of navigable waters (other than harbor areas).
- The moored boat is used for private recreational purposes.
- The moored boat is not more than sixty (60) feet in length.
- The area being used for the buoy is not subject to prior rights.
- The mooring buoy will not obstruct use of previously authorized mooring buoys.
- The mooring buoy is located on state-owned aquatic lands, but as near to the shore of residence as practical.
- All applicable local, state, and federal rules and regulations have been met.
Oh! and it appears there are four different agencies that need to be contacted prior to approval.
- The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife
- The Washington Department of Ecology
- The US Army Corp of Engineers
- The County Shoreline Master Program
To my eye, the mooring buoys in Port Madison are many and indiscriminately placed. Most of the houses along the shore that may want a buoy already have a dock. There are far more buoys than homes along the shoreline. I also noted that most of the buoys were unmarked and unoccupied.
Is anchoring a prior right? I don’t know the answer. It seems to me that if the proliferation of mooring buoys in anchorages diminishes or eliminates the ability to anchor the answer should be yes.
Jumping through hoops with four government agencies seems like a sure way to expend an incredible amount of time and effort without a satisfactory result.
I sent an email to the DNR folks about how this all should work and will update this post when/if I receive a response.