Department of Ecology News Release - January 13, 2016

Shoreline program for Island County approved

County’s update process involved hundreds of residents

OLYMPIA  –  The Washington Department of Ecology has approved Island County updated shoreline master program.

The updated program will significantly improve the use, restoration and management of development along 210 miles of Puget Sound and freshwater shorelines.

Ecology’s approval completes a five-year process that involved hundreds of people, including shoreline property owners, a science advisory panel, non-profit organizations, tribal governments, and state and local government staff.

“Island County and its residents have taken a unique approach to many parts of their shoreline program,” said Erik Stockdale, Ecology’s regional shorelines program manager. “This program reflects a high level of public involvement and interaction that shows how highly they value their shorelines.”

The county developed a unique set of designations for different categories of shoreline. A key part of this tailors buffers and setbacks on individual properties in response to specific on-site conditions. For example, setbacks are measured from the tops of bluffs, rather than from high tide lines.

The program specifically protects ecologically intact shorelines. It also includes locally developed residential development policies and regulations to protect historic land use patterns in communities on beaches and canals.

Other facets of Island County’s updated shoreline program include:

  • Encouraging soft-bank erosion control methods and limits construction of new shoreline armoring.
  • A restoration plan showing where and how voluntary improvements in water and upland areas can enhance the local shoreline environment.
  • Tailoring unique shoreline setbacks and buffers to each shoreline environment designation.
  • Incorporating the county’s critical areas regulations and flood damage prevention code. 
  • Helping support the broader initiative to protect and restore Puget Sound.

Washington’s 262 cities and counties with regulated shorelines must periodically update their programs, a requirement of the state’s Shoreline Management Act. Island County’s shoreline program now becomes a part of the state’s overall Shoreline Master Program.  

Contact information

Larry Altose
Communications manager
David Pater
shorelines planner