The following article appeared in the Anacortes American, 
November 25, 1998

Developer Will Attempt to Plant Eelgrass to Make Up for 
Loss Elsewhere
By Nancy Walbeck
American Staff Writer

     A major developer of Fidalgo Bay property announced an 
ambition plan Monday night for extensive eelgrass mitigation 
in the south dock area as well as building a new breakwater to 
extend beyond the current harbor line.
     MJB Properties, the firm that owns more than 70 acres on 
the bay, is launching its mitigation plan in conjunction with 
the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the owner 
of critical tidelands in south bay.
     The project will be in three phases, and somewhat 
different that first proposed by MJB last year, Dan Dingfield, 
project manager for MJB, told Anacortes city councilors at a 
Monday, Nov. 23, study session, that the development firm 
plans its own eelgrass mitigation project, one that should 
provide future "credits" through "banking."  The south-dock 
area runs from 25th to 29th streets and east from T Avenue to 
the shoreline
   "We plan to do this as a joint venture with DNR," Dingfield 
said, adding that the project should produce 60 acres of 
habitat resource vs. the six acres previously planned in the 
mid-bay area.  The initial mitigation plan comprised MJB, 
the city and the Port of Anacortes.
     About 71 acres will be affected, 11 of that in the water.  
But MJB also has to secure permits to dredge the current fill 
area, up to 665,000 cubic yards.  This area will be the major 
portion dedicated to eelgrass-habitat regeneration.  Although 
Dingfield warned that it would take a number of years for full 
mitigation to occur, already indications of natural 
regeneration have been seen.  In areas where the bottom is 
closer to the surface, say between four and six feet, eelgrass 
has grown and even thrived, he said.
     The total project includes upland, dry-boat storage for 
about 450 boats in a closed building west of the dredged 
channel in south bay.  Additional open-boat storage will be 
offered as well south of the channel, but only temporarily.  
That eventually will be converted to 360 marina slips, 
Dingfield said.
    The project also calls for a new extended breakwater, from 
the privately owned Anacortes Marina on the northwest and 
southeast beyond the harbor line, an issue Dingfield conceded 
would need to be negotiated with the state.  A third phase of 
the project is the 900-slip marina, which has long been 
planned for the mid-bay shoreline near 15th Street.
     Dingfield and marine engineer Jeff Layton of Layton and 
Sells said the plan could produce additional eelgrass credits 
for the Port of Anacortes' projects and SHIP Harbor 
development, among others.  Credits can allow development 
to occur in eelgrass or habitat-resource areas, if developers 
create a similar off-site habitat in exchange.
     In their "preliminary" discussions with the state 
Department of Fish and Wildlife, Dingfield and Layton said 
the agency "told us to continue" to plan a dredge project that 
would "bring back the land to the original shoreline."  But 
MJB also will need permit approvals from the city, the U.S. 
Corps of Engineers and various other agencies, among other 
     Still to be resolved is whether DNR will favor MJB on the 
tideland option, or decide on the Port of Anacortes' south 
harbor project instead.  Dingfield said MJB would 
"vigorously" pursue DNR's approval, including using the 
abutting-property proviso. The firm owns property adjacent to 
DNR's five-acre parcel, as does the city. Recently, DNR asked 
city council to participate in that decision-making process.  
Abutting property owners generally are given first option 
regarding tideland leases.
     Meanwhile, Dingfield said MJB will immediately apply 
after the Thanksgiving holiday for permits to begin work on 
the initial 13-acre upland site.  Those plans include a new 
dock, an adjacent float, hydraulic boat lifts as well as 
permanent and temporary upland boat storage.
     Council members had few questions Monday night, but 
Jeanne Robinette said if MJB can pull off the mitigation 
project, it "would be a major scientific breakthrough."