States / Washington


Coastal Management

The focus is on managing coastal areas to increase resilience, with an emphasis on balancing environmental, economic, and human wellbeing. Mandated by the Coastal Zone Management Act, the two federal programs designed for this task are the National Coastal Zone Management Program and the National Estuarine Research Reserve System. Programs are administered, on the federal side, by NOAA’s Office for Coastal Management, in partnership with the coastal states.

Trees in the foreground with rock formations and cliffs scattered on a beach.

State Programs

Coastal Zone Management

Washington Coastal Zone Management Program. Established in 1976, Washington was the first federally approved coastal zone management program. The mission is to protect, restore, and ensure the responsible development of the state's marine shorelines in Puget Sound and along the Pacific Ocean coast. The program covers 15 coastal counties and extends three nautical miles into the Pacific Ocean, excluding federal and tribal lands.

National Estuarine Research Reserves

Padilla Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve. Designated in 1980 and protecting 11,966 acres, the reserve conserves one of the largest beds of eelgrass in the contiguous United States—nearly 8,000 acres. Located in the northern reaches of greater Puget Sound, at the saltwater edge of the delta of the Skagit River in the Salish Sea, the reserve is eight miles long and three miles across. Habitats here support herring, smelt, salmon, flatfish, Dungeness crab, ducks, eagles, shorebirds, and peregrine falcons. Tourists, artists, and wildlife enthusiasts flock here for the pristine beauty, as well as for harbor seal and sea otter spotting. (See handout)