Fidalgo Bay Aquatic Reserve

Protecting Unique Habitats


In 1999, Skagit Land Trust acquired the area south of the railroad trestle (behind you) and, in 2006, some of the area north of the trestle. These lands were then gifted to the state for DNR to manage. The land trust holds a conservation easement on the land to ensure that it is managed primarily to preserve habitat for fish and wildlife. 


The aquatic reserve designation offers additional protection by preserving the environmental, scientific, and educational value of these public lands. Reserves are established for 90 years, starting when the site-specific management plan is adopted. This means the Fidalgo Bay Aquatic Reserve and the special conservation it provides will be in place until 2098. 


Fidalgo Bay Aquatic Reserve consists of 780 acres of state-owned aquatic lands designated in 2000 by the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to preserve the unique habitats and species in the area. Within this reserve you¹ll find tidal flats, salt marshes, small ³pocket² estuaries, sand and gravel beaches, and expansive native eelgrass beds‹essential habitats for the reproductive, foraging, and rearing success of many fish and bird species. 

A wide variety of fish, water birds, mammals, and invertebrates inhabit the reserve or use it as an important stopover on their migratory routes. The critical habitats and biodiversity of Fidalgo Bay are key reasons it was designated as an aquatic reserve. 

Management goals of the Fidalgo Bay Aquatic Reserve


Conserve and enhance native habitats and associated plants and wildlife species. Special emphasis: eelgrass, forage fish, salmonids, and migratory birds.

Protect and restore the functions and natural processes of the shoreline and intertidal areas to further support the natural resources of the reserve.

Promote the stewardship of riparian and aquatic habitats and species by providing education and outreach opportunities and promoting coordination with other resource managers.

Information on this Trail Tales website was prepared under funding from the Washington State Department of Ecology’s Public Participation Grant Program. While the information was reviewed for grant consistency and accuracy of project references, this does not necessarily constitute endorsement by the Department.

Learn more about Ecology’s Anacortes Baywide Cleanup

Photo credits: Anacortes History Museum, Washington state Dept. of Ecology, Samish Indian Nation and others, as noted. Illustrations by Linda Feltner.