Department of Ecology News Release - December 7, 2012

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Ecology approves Ridgefield’s Shoreline Master Program update

OLYMPIA – The Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) has approved Ridgefield’s updated shoreline master program.

Ridgefield’s program will guide development and use along 1.6 miles of shorelines on Lake River and Gee Creek. It will result in significant improvements in water quality as well as improved protection and restoration of the shorelines.

Ridgefield is one of nearly 60 local governments that have completed their updates.  The revised master program combines local plans for future shoreline development and preservation with new shoreline development ordinances and related permitting requirements.

Sally Toteff, Ecology’s Southwest Regional Director, said: “Shoreline master programs are complex because they merge goals calling for both utilization and protection of shoreline areas, which brings the potential for conflict. The city’s collaborative approach to this plan update led to a program that strikes a balance.  Shorelines are valuable but also fragile. Uninhibited use could destroy their value and utility, but too much prohibition could eliminate utility and value for people. I commend the city for completing this challenging, complex and time-consuming process.”

The city’s process brought diverse local interests to the table to work collaboratively.  The shoreline master program process began with a thorough inventory of existing land-use patterns and environmental conditions and was completed with consultant support.  These groups included waterfront property owners, scientists, non-profit organizations, ports, and state and local resource agency staff.

About 200 cities and counties statewide are in the process or soon will be updating or crafting their master programs, under the state’s 1972 voter-approved Shoreline Management Act.

Shoreline master programs are the cornerstone of the act.  The law requires cities and counties with regulated shorelines to develop and periodically update their locally-tailored programs to help minimize environmental damage to shoreline areas, reserve appropriate areas for water-oriented uses, and protect the public’s right to public lands and waters.

Ridgefield’s shoreline master program:

Under state law, the local shoreline must receive approval from Ecology before taking effect.   It then becomes part of the state shoreline master program. The department, if needed, will help defend city’s shoreline program against legal challenges.

All of Washington’s cities and counties with regulated shorelines must update their programs by December 2014.  They are following regulations adopted by Ecology in 2003.  The regulations resulted from a negotiated settlement among 58 different parties including business interests, ports, environmental groups, shoreline user groups, cities and counties, Ecology and the courts.

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Media Contacts:

For more information:

Ecology’s website for Ridgefield’s proposed shoreline master program (www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/sea/shorelines/smp/mycomments/ridgefield.html)

More about shoreline master programs (www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/sea/shorelines/smp/index.html)

Our Living Shorelines web portal (www.ecy.wa.gov/livingshorelines/index.html)

Ecology's social media (www.ecy.wa.gov/about/newmedia.html)