Friday Harbor Laboratories

University of Washington San Juan Archipelago Biological Preserves


This page is an edited version of the original written by Dr. Claudia E. Mills. Original page here.

The University of Washington owns and maintains a series of biological preserves in the San Juan Islands. The five preserves are the Friday Harbor Laboratories Biological Preserve, the Cedar Rock Preserve, the Fred and Marilyn Ellis Biological Preserve, the False Bay Biological Preserve, and the Argyle Lagoon Biological Preserve.

The overarching goals for these properties are to maintain and restore native biodiversity and ecosystem function and to facilitate education and research that is consistent with these goals; a secondary goal is to maintain important parts of the cultural landscape.



Friday Harbor Laboratories Biological Preserve, San Juan Island

Friday Harbor Labs Preserve 1995

Friday Harbor Laboratories Biological Preserve. Image © State of Washington Department of Ecology, Shoreline Aerial Photos, shows approximately 1/3 of the Preserve.

This is a 476 acre property, a former U.S. Military Reserve that was transferred to the University of Washington in 1921 by the federal government for the purpose of a biological station and for general university research purpose. The southern portion is developed as a residential teaching and research campus, including 12 separate laboratory buildings, 2 lecture halls, the Whiteley study center, a library, computer lab, administrative offices, stockroom, dining hall, dormitories and other housing units.

Dr. Tom Schroeder, cell biologist who worked at the Friday Harbor Laboratories for nearly 30 years, has written a 500 year history of the property that now comprises the Preserve and some surrounding land. A baseline inventory of the plants present on the FHL Preserve, by habitat type, was made by Claudia Mills and others between 2001 and 2005, and includes some data from earlier collections.



Cedar Rock Preserve, Shaw Island

Cedar Rock Preserve, Shaw Island

Cedar Rock Preserve, Shaw Island. Image © State of Washington Department of Ecology, Shoreline Aerial Photos, shows approximately the western half of the Preserve.

This is a 370 acre property given to the University of Washington by Robert Ellis of Shaw Island.

Management plan for the Cedar Rock Preserve (pdf)



Fred and Marilyn Ellis Biological Preserve, Shaw Island

Point George, Shaw Island

Point George peninsula, Fred and Marilyn Ellis Biological Preserve, Shaw Island. Images © State of Washington Department of Ecology, Shoreline Aerial Photos, show approximately 1/4 of the Preserve.

This Preserve consists of 496 acres in three large, non-contiguous properties composed of thirteen parcels that were given to the University of Washington by Fred and Marilyn Ellis of Shaw Island.



False Bay Biological Preserve, San Juan Island

False Bay, San Juan Island

Image compiled from several screen shots, San Juan County Assessors Office parcel map (1995 images). The yellow-colored parcel above False Bay is the University of Washington upland portion of the preserve.

Purchased by the University of Washington in 1974 this preserve includes most of the approximately 300 acres of tidelands in False Bay and a 23.3 acre upland property. The False Bay purchase resulted in the University of Washington owning all tidelands in False Bay from shoreline to mean low water except from high tide line out.



Argyle Lagoon Biological Preserve, San Juan Island

Argyle Lagoon, San Juan Island


Argyle Lagoon, San Juan Island, with tidal creek entrance on the left. Image © State of Washington Department of Ecology, Digital Coastal Atlas, August 15, 2006. The undeveloped property on the lower left-hand side of the image is the upland portion of the Preserve.

This is a 14 acre property that includes all of the Argyle Lagoon tidelands (12.3 acres classified as oysterlands by the State) including part of a tidal creek, and a 1.7 acre upland parcel.

Argyle Lagoon Boundaries

Argyle Lagoon, San Juan Island


Argyle Creek and Argyle Lagoon are frequently visited by UW Friday Harbor Labs biology classes and are usually the site of several ongoing research projects.