Port Susan Marine Stewardship Area


Shorebirds in Port SusanThe Nature Conservancy has identified Port Susan as a priority conservation area of high biodiversity importance (Floberg et al. 2004).  Since 2007, work has been underway to develop a Port Susan Marine Stewardship Area (MSA) through a partnership between the Snohomish and Island County MRCs, Tulalip Tribes, the Stillaguamish Tribe, The Nature Conservancy, WSU Extension of Snohomish and Island Counties and Washington Sea Grant (with support from the NWSC).  In 2014, a resolution passed by Snohomish County Council designated Port Susan as a voluntary marine stewardship area. For more information on the overall project, please contact Kathleen Herrmann.  A few additional resources are the Port Susan Bay Ecosystem Wiki and The Nature Conservancy's Port Susan Bay Preserve.

What is a marine stewardship area?

A marine stewardship area (MSA) is a conservation designation that works to generate responsibility within the relevant authorities and users of marine environments for the conservation of the natural, cultural, and scenic value.  It encourages citizen participation and a common community vision.  The designation carries no regulatory authority.   

Port Susan MapDesignation of the Port Susan Marine Stewardship Area (PSMSA) and adoption of a community based marine stewardship plan defines a community vision for enhanced stewardship of Port Susan.  This will lead to a greater understanding of the marine environment and ensure Port Susan continues to provide diverse benefits for all people.  Enhanced stewardship will encourage protection of marine resources through education, citizen science, voluntary measures, increased communications and partnerships, strong leadership and coordinated enforcement of existing regulation.

In parallel to the Port Susan Marine Stewardship Area planning process, Washington Sea Grant and WSU Snohomish and Island County Extension Beach Watchers developed a citizen science project to address data gaps identified in the viability and threats assessments.  In summer of 2011, 25 WSU Extension Beach Watchers and other volunteers in Snohomish and Island Counties conducted a shoreline assessment of Port Susan, collecting data on the Port Susan nearshore.  As part of the adaptive management process, these data can be used to update the viability assessment and inform actions under many of the strategies.     

Conservation Action Planning

Port Susan Bay

The Nature Conservancy’s Conservation Action Planning (CAP) process is guiding development of a community-based marine stewardship plan for the proposed Port Susan Marine Stewardship Area. 

At a joint meeting in Coupeville on December 6, 2011 the Snohomish and Island County MRCs voted unanimously to support the Port Susan Marine Stewardship Area Conservation Action Plan and take it to their elected officials for approval.  The plan aims to achieve a healthy marine and estuarine ecosystem with thriving biodiversity and strong recreational and resource based industries.  The CAP document describes the planning process and includes the identified conservation targets, threats, and strategies.

In 2014, the MRC worked to develop a report card to highlight partner progress on the strategies identified in the CAP. The goal is to reconnect POrt Susan partners, share and demonstrate success that is occurring across the landscape, and galvanize new efforts.

Click here to download the Port Susan MSA Conservation Action Plan document (3 MB pdf).

Click here to download a handout summarizing the Port Susan MSA planning process.

Click here to download the Port Susan MSA Report Card.

Incentives Project

In 2014, the MRC worked with Futurewise to develop recommendations for shoreline incentive programs that will improve nearshore habitat. Through a stakeholder process involving interviews and a workshop, 29 shoreline landowner incentives were explored for feasibility and potential success in Snohomish County. Out of that process, four incentives were ranked highest as potential approaches:

  • Establishing a Beach Management District
  • Creating a Shorelines Education and Technical Assistance Program
  • Offering Focused Shoreline Grants or Cost-Share Awards to Landowners
  • Adding a Shoreline Component to Conservation District’s Program

Work with stakeholders suggested that multiple incentives could be combined to create a program that includes three key elements: funding, permitting/technical assistance, and education/demonstration.

Click here to view the Port Susan MSA Incentives Report.

Port Susan MSA Video


2012 Puget Sound Champions Award Recipient

2012 Puget Sound Champion Award RecipientsThe Snohomish County MRC and project partners, Island County MRC, Tulalip Tribes, the Stillaguamish Tribe, The Nature Conservancy, WSU Extension of Snohomish and Island Counties, and Washington Sea Grant, were presented as 2012 Puget Sound Champions in recognition of developing a Conservation Action Plan for the Port Susan Marine Stewardship Area. Kathleen Herrmann, the project manager for the Port Susan Marine Stewardship Area, accepted the award on behalf of the group.

The award was presented during the Snohomish and Stillaguamish Watershed Local Integrating Organization (LIO) meeting held on January 7, 2013.

Interesting News

It's early, but rising sea bird populations a good sign. Everett Herald. February 19, 2015.

The Skagit and Stillaguamish Delta Shorebird Significance

Based on its key role for more than 20,000 shorebirds per year, the Greater Skagit and Stillaguamish Delta was designated as an area of regional importance in the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network (WHSRN) in May 2012.  The Port Susan Marine Stewardship Area overlaps with the Stillaguamish Delta. 

Click here to learn more about the Greater Skagit and Stillaguamish Delta WHSRN site.


Port Susan Owner's Manual

Shellfish Foraging Guide

NWSC Benchmarks Achieved:
Education & Outreach, Science, Marine Habitat, Marine Life, Marine Water Quality

Floberg, J., M. Goering, G. Wilhere, C. MacDonald, C. Chappell, C. Rumsey, Z. Ferdana,A. Holt, P. Skidmore, T. Horsman, E. Alverson, C. Tanner, M. Bryer, P. Iachetti, A. Harcombe,B. McDonald, T.Cook, M. Summers, D. Rolph. 2004. Willamette Valley-Puget Trough-Georgia Basin Ecoregional Assessment, Volume One: Report. Prepared by The Nature Conservancy with support from the Nature Conservancy of Canada, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Washington Department of Natural Resources (Natural Heritage and Nearshore Habitat programs), Oregon State Natural Heritage Information Center and the British Columbia Conservation Data Centre.