Protecting shorelines for public and environmental benefits

Forked river flowing through grass-covered mountain terrain.

This week, Ecology formally revised the state procedural rules for managing marine and freshwater shorelines.

It’s all part of the state Shoreline Management Act, which was adopted by voters in 1972. The overarching goal of the act is to prevent the inherent harm in an uncoordinated and piecemeal development of the state’s shorelines.

Under it, cities and counties are required to periodically review their land-use policies and regulations governing shoreline uses within their jurisdiction. These locally tailored shoreline master programs (SMPs) are adopted and approved by each local government and Ecology.

Local governments helped us revise the rules and we also factored in comments we received from the public. The updated rules:

  • Define procedures for counties and cities to comply with a legislative requirement to periodically review local master programs on a repeating eight-year cycle. The first round of reviews are due in June 2019 for jurisdictions in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties.

  • Outline a new optional process cities and counties can use for amending SMPs that reduces duplication by consolidating local and state comment periods.

  • Incorporate recent state laws and adopt other “housekeeping” changes.

For more information about the revised SMP rules, please contact our senior shoreline planner, Tim Gates.