Department of Ecology News Release - January 8, 2013


Ecology approves Milton’s shoreline master program

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

Milton’s shoreline program will guide development and use along some 1.5 miles of shoreline on Surprise Lake and Hylebos Creek, which drains to Commencement Bay. The program will result in significant improvements in water quality as well as improved protection and restoration of the shorelines.

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

Paula Ehlers, Southwest Region shorelands program manager, said: “Our shorelines help make Washington a great place to live and are an important part of our quality of life. Updating the master program is a major accomplishment for the city of Milton. The updated program reflects a two-plus year effort by the Planning Commission, starting with learning new aspects of state law and ending with rules and policies that are tailored to the local conditions along Surprise Lake and Hylebos Creek. The end product is a program that reflects Milton’s community priorities and needs and meets the requirements of the Shoreline Management Act.”

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.

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 completed with consultant support. These groups include waterfront property owners, tribal government representatives, and state and local resource agency staff.

“By working together, we are protecting the area’s treasured shoreline resources for ourselves as well as our children and future generations,” Ehlers said.

Milton’s shoreline master program:

Under state law, the local shoreline program 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 Milton’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.


Media Contacts:

Linda Kent, Ecology media relations, 360-407-6239; 306-791-9830 (cell);

Chris Larson, city of Milton planner, 253-517-2715,

For more information:

Ecology’s website for Milton’s shoreline master program (

More about shoreline master programs (

Our Living Shorelines web portal (

Ecology’s social media (