Aquatic Lands Enhancement
In 1984, the Washington State Legislature created ALEA to ensure that money generated from aquatic lands was used to protect and enhance those lands.
Aquatic lands are all tidelands, shore lands, harbor areas, and the beds of navigable waters.
ALEA grants may be used for the acquisition, improvement, or protection of aquatic lands for public purposes. They also may be used to provide or improve public access to the waterfront.
The ALEA program is targeted at re-establishing the natural, self-sustaining ecological functions of the waterfront, providing or restoring public access to the water, and increasing public awareness of aquatic lands as a finite natural resource and irreplaceable public heritage.
- Removing bulkheads to restore natural beach functions
- Restoring an estuary
- Replacing a waterfront boardwalk
- Restoring shoreline for salmon habitat
- Developing a waterfront park
Funding SourceALEA is funded almost entirely by revenue generated by the Washington State Department of Natural Resources' management of state-owned aquatic lands. Revenue sources include leases on state-owned waterfront sites and sale of harvest rights for geoduck clams.
Who can apply?
- Local agencies
- State agencies
- Native American Tribes
The above entities must be authorized legally to acquire and develop public open space, habitat, or recreation facilities.
Match requirementsApplicants must provide a minimum 50 percent match for each project. The match may include, but is not limited to:
- Appropriations or cash
- Donations of cash, land, labor, equipment, and materials
- Federal, state, local, and private grants
- Applicant’s labor, equipment, and materials
For local agencies, at least 10 percent of the total project cost must come from a non-state, non-federal contribution.
- Acquisition projects: $1 million
- Restoration or improvement projects: $500,000
- Development projects: $500,000
- Combination projects (acquisition and development or restoration): $1 million, of which not more than $500,000 may be for development or restoration costs.
- Administrative costs
- For acquisition projects: 5 percent of the total acquisition. Approval may be sought for greater amounts.
- For development projects: 20 percent of the total project cost. Approval may be sought for greater amounts.
- For Salmon Recovery Funding Board development projects: 30 percent of the total project cost. Approval may be sought for greater amounts.
Funding Anticipated (Average)$5 million biennially
AcquisitionAcquisition includes the purchase of aquatic lands or uplands in fee title, or lesser interests such as leases, conservation easements, or access easements. Acquisition must result in an opportunity for reasonable public access.
Restoration (Improvement)Restoration means to return damaged or altered aquatic lands or uplands to a condition that could be reasonably expected to substantially improve ecological conditions. Restoration projects may include replanting native vegetation, altering or removing structures, and other activities that can be reasonably expected to result in a site that is self-sustaining; that is, the site will not require continual intervention to function as a predominantly natural ecosystem. Restoration projects must allow or provide public access to aquatic lands. Restoration projects with interpretive or educational elements are strongly encouraged.
DevelopmentDevelopment means to improve, renovate, or provide new structures or facilities that support public access to aquatic lands and waters for water-dependent activities. Development projects including interpretive or educational features are strongly encouraged. Examples of eligible development projects include:
• Fishing piers and platforms
• Interpretive signs, kiosks
• Launch and moorage facilities for small boats
• Non-motorized paths, trails, ramps, stairs
• Open-water swim areas
• Parking lots and entry drives or entry roads
• Restrooms, benches, tables
• Viewpoints, platforms, blinds for observing wildlife
• Site restoration
Ineligible Projects• Concessionaire buildings
• Fish or wildlife production facilities
• Indoor facilities such as swimming pools, community centers, museums, interpretive and environmental centers
• Offices, shops, residences, and meeting rooms
• Operating, overhead, or incidental costs
• Routine maintenance costs
• Legally mandated clean-up or costs of required mitigation actions not associated with the approved project.
Grant Application ScheduleApplications generally are accepted in even years. See this year’s schedule.
Grant Evaluation Process (1 year)
- Applicants submit an online application and make an in-person presentation:
Property acquired, developed, or renovated with ALEA grants must be kept for public outdoor recreation use forever. Other commitments include ensuring proper maintenance, facilitating audits, providing for nondiscrimination, etc. Further information can be found in Manual 7: Funded Projects: Policies & The Project Agreement.
What are navigable waters?
ALEA projects must be associated with navigable waters of the state as defined by Washington Administrative Code 332-30-106, Revised Code of Washington 79.105, and Article 17 of the State Constitution.
All marine waters are, by definition, navigable, as are portions of rivers influenced by tides.
Navigable rivers and lakes are those determined by the judiciary, those bounded by meander lines, or those that could have been used for commerce at the time of statehood. The Department of Natural Resources assists the Recreation and Conservation Office in determining if a water body is navigable.
Known navigable freshwater bodies in eastern Washington include:Calispell Creek
Cle Elum Lake
Methow River (lower)
West Medical Lake
Yakima River (portions)
Pend Oreille River