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I’m Wendy Buffett, an oil spill preparedness planner with Ecology, and I’m thrilled to announce that the Strait of Juan de Fuca (STR) Geographic Response Plan (GRP) is now open for public comment!

What Is a GRP and How Does It Help the Strait?

GRPs aim to protect the sensitive natural, cultural, and economic resources in a specified geographic area. The geographic areas in Washington State with GRPs have associated risks from oil spills; industry may transport, store, refine, or transfer oil in these regions. The Strait of Juan de Fuca GRP had its last full update in March 2003.

The Strait of Juan de Fuca is 80 miles long and separates the Canada from Washington State. It is the principal waterway by which overseas and regional commerce moves to and from the Washington State ports of Port Angeles, Seattle, Tacoma; the Canadian ports of Victoria and Vancouver; and the oil refineries and terminals in Anacortes, Bellingham, Seattle, and Tacoma.

The area is renowned for its stunning beauty, providing a wealth of recreational opportunities for hiking, fishing, sailing, camping, and surfing. Three million visitors a year admire its vistas on their way to Olympic National Park.

The Dungeness River estuary with Olympic Mountains in the distance.

A Group Effort

A comprehensive update of the entire plan is now available for public comment through June 15, 2024, with an expected publish date of July 1, 2024. This long-awaited update is possible thanks to the patience and diligent efforts of many contributors who live and work in the planning area, including:

  • Makah Nation
  • Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe
  • Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe
  • Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission
  • United States Fish and Wildlife Service
  • Port of Port Angeles
  • Marathon Oil Port Angeles Terminal
  • Marine Spill Response Corporation (MSRC)
  • Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife
  • Washington Department of Natural Resources
  • Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission
  • Clallam County Marine Resources Committee

This update includes the removal of ten strategies due to physical changes and new information, 42 updated strategies, and 25 new strategies created to protect resources in Neah Bay, Sequim Bay, Discovery Bay, and Protection Island. Each site was visited, many of them twice, and designed with the input of one or more of the above contributors.

Three people in a boat look in the distance at a green island. The bright orange jackets of two say US Fish and Wildlife Service.
A group visit to Protection Island on Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe’s response boat, including US Fish and Wildlife Service, Ecology, and MSRC.

The update also includes seven new Notification Strategies so that first responders can immediately notify fish hatcheries, aquariums, and other water intakes about a spill in the area.

Help Us Improve the Plan

Working on this plan has allowed me to visit some of the most spectacularly beautiful spots in the world, and connect with the passionate, knowledgeable people who strive every day to protect the rich history and resources of the Strait. The maintenance of these geographic response plans is vital to our state’s preparedness in the event of an oil spill. Please help us by following the links below to review the draft and provide comments. You may also submit comments by mail or email. Feel free to reach out to me with any questions or concerns at or 360-791-4325.

Comment online:

Use our online comment form

Comment by mail:

Wendy Buffett
Department of Ecology, Spills Program
PO Box 47600
Olympia, WA 98504-7600