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Department of Ecology News Release - February 1, 2011
OLYMPIA – The Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) today announced its conditional approval of Jefferson County’s recently updated Shoreline Master Program. Ecology Director Ted Sturdevant called the county’s work a landmark effort that will result in significant improvements in the protection, use, development and restoration of over 500 miles of shorelines and the water quality of many river, lake, and stream shores in the county
“I want to compliment Jefferson County for a job well done,” said Ecology Director Ted Sturdevant. “The updated local shoreline program will help protect the economic and environmental health of our waters, including Puget Sound and Hood Canal. It will keep local beaches and stream banks safe from further erosion, increase flood protection and safeguard critical habitat for fish and wildlife.”
It’s also the first updated shoreline master program in the state that includes new provisions along shorelines in the outer coastal region, known as Jefferson County’s “West End.”
Ecology’s approval will become final once certain changes to the county’s plan are made. The county can accept Ecology’s required changes fully. Or the county may suggest its own language changes, but that would require additional review and approval by Ecology.
Jefferson County is one of 37 local governments that have completed their updates. About 230 towns, cities and counties statewide are in the process or soon will be updating their master programs during the next few years, under the state’s voter-approved Shoreline Management Act.
“Jefferson County is pleased to have reached this important milestone after years of collective effort,” said John Austin, chair of the Jefferson County Board of County Commissioners.
“Our new SMP reflects the high level of public involvement, an improved understanding of shoreline functions and our local community’s vision for healthy natural resources as a cornerstone for quality of life. The updated policies and regulations are more detailed and contemporary than the previous program and will provide greater consistency and predictability for landowners,” Austin added.
The revised shoreline program combines local plans for future development and preservation with new development ordinances and related permitting requirements. It establishes policies and regulations based on existing conditions to balance reasonable, orderly development with protection of ecological resources.
Gerry O’Keefe, acting executive director of the Puget Sound Partnership, which is coordinating efforts to improve the health of the Sound, said: “Using the latest scientific information, Jefferson County has developed shoreline policies and regulations designed to protect important shorelines and help in the effort to restore Puget Sound to health.”
He added, “The citizens of Jefferson County can be proud of this achievement and deserve the gratitude of all the people in the region who love this beautiful place and care about its health. So thank you, Jefferson County, for acting to protect and improve the health of Puget Sound.”
Shoreline master programs are the cornerstone of the state Shoreline Management Act passed by voters in 1972. The programs help minimize environmental damage to shoreline areas, reserve appropriate areas for water-oriented uses and reduce interference with the public’s access to public lands and water.
Jefferson County’s process brought diverse local interests to the table to work collaboratively. The update began with a thorough inventory of existing land-use patterns and environmental conditions and completed with consultant support and overseen by two volunteer committees. These groups included waterfront property owners, scientists, non-profit organizations, tribal government representatives, and state and local resource agency staff.
Jefferson County’s updated program:
State law requires Ecology give final approval authority for each city and county shoreline program, which then becomes part of the state Shoreline Master Program.
All of Washington’s cities and counties with regulated shorelines must update their shoreline programs by December 2014. They are following guidelines adopted by Ecology in 2003. The guidelines resulted from a negotiated settlement between business interests, ports, environmental groups, shoreline user groups, cities and counties, Ecology, and the courts.
Kim Schmanke, Ecology media relations, 360-407-6239 (desk)
For more information:
Copyright © Washington State Department of Ecology. See http://www.ecy.wa.gov/copyright.html.