Mooring Buoy Compliance

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Jefferson County Wins a 2013 Governor's Award June 10, 2013.

Among the 2013 Smart Communities Award winners is Jefferson County for its Mystery Bay Management and South Port Townsend Bay plans, which engaged a diverse group of stakeholders to develop plans to protect commercial shellfish resources while also providing for recreation and other commercial uses.
  • 2013 Governor's Award nomination

Mooring Buoy Management Plans Adopted October 1, 2012

The Board of County Commissioners adopted the Mystery Bay Management Plan and South Port Townsend Bay Management Plan on October 1, 2012. The Moratorium on new mooring buoys in South Port Townsend Bay was also released at the same time.
  • Mystery Bay Management Plan - Resolution 58-12
  • South Port Townsend Bay Management Plan - Resolution 57-12
  • Release of Moratorium on New Mooring Buoys in South Port Townsend Bay - Ord 09-1001-12
The plans were prepared to manage boater usage in a manner that ensures continued, year-round harvest of commercial shellfish while balancing that interest with the legitimate use of the bays for public recreation and other commercial use. Washington State departments of Natural Resources (DNR) and Health, the Governor's Office of Regulatory Assistance (ORA) and Jefferson County representatives worked together to inventory boats and mooring buoys in each bay and led two groups of numerous stakeholders in developing the plans.

The Mystery Bay Management Plan received the 2012 Waterways Management Award from the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) in September of 2012. The award was presented to Alan Bogner of the Office of Regulatory Assistance at the NASBLA national conference in Alabama. The award was presented locally to stakeholders at the Marrowstone Island Community Association regular meeting in September. The award is housed at the Marrowstone Island Community Club off Garden Club Road
  • 2012 NASBLA Award

Public Open House January 27 - Draft Management Plan

Work has continued on finding solutions with input from a variety of stakeholders. The state Office of Regulatory Assistance has been working with residents, the shellfish industry, the County, other state agencies and the tribes to draft a management plan. Come learn more, hear about the draft management plan and provide input at the open house event - Wednesday January 27, 2010, 6:30 p.m. at Fort Flagler. See additional materials below:
  • Open House Flyer (PDF)
  • Press Release about Open House and Draft Plan (PDF)
  • Draft Management Plan (PDF)
  • Mystery Bay Question and Answer Factsheet (PDF)
  • Legal Framework (PDF)
  • Jefferson County Moratorium on new buoys in Mystery Bay (PDF)

Public Open House June 15 - Mystery Bay Management

Come find out how multiple agencies are working together to find solutions to the Mystery Bay concerns about recreational boating, mooring buoys and healthy shellfish. An open house event will be held June 15, 2009, from 6:30 - 8:30 p.m. at the Fort Flagler State Park Recreation Hall. For driving directions and to learn more, see the flyer and invitation letter. For questions, call 360-732-0934 or 360-902-1013.


Mooring buoys in Jefferson County waters require county and state permits. Recent concern has arisen regarding potential pollution threats as related to the number of boats moored in Mystery Bay. Maintaining water quality and healthy shellfish benefits everyone. Current efforts are underway to ensure all buoys are in compliance with both county and state regulations.

Derelict Vessel Removals

Jefferson County does not have direct jurisdiction over vessels but regulates mooring buoys as per the Shoreline Master Program (SMP) section of the Unified Development Code (UDC) in the Jefferson County Code (JCC 18.25). The County has had an SMP in place since 1976 as required by the WA State Shoreline Management Act of 1971 (SMA; RCW 90.58).

The current SMP was prepared in 1989, with minor amendments dating to 1998. The SMP is currently undergoing a comprehensive update as required by the State. Learn more about the SMP Update project on the Shoreline Management and Planning page.

Communication Actions

  • Press release - June 2, 2008
  • Letter and Questionnaire to Permitted Buoy Owners - June 26, 2008
  • Press Release - July 1, 2008
  • Compliance Notice Buoy Tag - August 14, 2008

Informational Handouts

  • County Mooring Buoy brochure #42
  • County Shoreline Permits Information Sheet (4 pages)
  • State DNR Mooring Buoy brochure

Application Forms

  • Joint Aquatic Resources Permit Application (JARPA) - This links to the State Governor's Office of Regulatory Innovation and Assistance (ORIA). The JARPA is for shoreline permits and exemptions and serves to help coordinate the application process between multiple agencies. Please include a signed Jefferson County Master Permit Application form with the completed and signed JARPA.
  • County Master Permit Application - The Master Permit Application form is required for each type of land use application. Supplemental forms are required for some types of permits - see the list below and/or visit the Building Permits and Inspections page.
    • Complete Building Permit Application Checklist
    • Design Criteria for Jefferson County
    • Site Plan Checklist
    • Sample Site Plan
  • State DNR Mooring Buoy Authorization and Application Information - A 'how to' description and required forms for residential waterfront property owners and others seeking registration, lease and license to install a mooring buoy on state-owned aquatic lands.

More Information

For permit information, contact DCD at 360-379-4450. For compliance information, contact DCD Code Enforcement at 360-379-4450.