Department of Ecology News Release - January 10, 2013

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Ecology approves Spokane County’s shoreline master program

SPOKANE – The Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) has approved Spokane County’s revised shoreline master program to guide future development and preservation for about 440 miles of river and lake shoreline in the state’s fourth most populous county.

Spokane County’s new shoreline program will significantly improve the protection, use, development and restoration of shorelines. It encompasses areas with all but one of the forested coulee lakes created by historical flooding.  Such lakes are only found in Washington. It also includes shorelines of:

The program combines local plans for future shoreline development and preservation with new shoreline development ordinances and related permitting requirements.

Ecology Director Ted Sturdevant said, “Our shorelines help make Washington a great place to live. I want to extend my appreciation and gratitude to Spokane County’s leaders – especially Commissioner Todd Mielke – and planning staff for working to modernize their shoreline master program. Because of their work with Ecology, we can protect our treasured shoreline resources for ourselves as well as for our children and future generations.”

Spokane County joins more than 60 city and county governments that have successfully crafted new or updated their existing local shoreline programs under the state’s 1972 voter-approved Shoreline Management Act.

Shoreline programs are the cornerstone of the act. Local governments with regulated shorelines are required 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.

“Spokane County supports Ecology’s approval of the new Spokane County Shoreline Master Program,” said Spokane County Planning Director John Pederson. “It represents a collaborative effort between Spokane County and the Department of Ecology in developing a master program that is consistent with the Shoreline Management Act and provides for protection, enhancement, and development of our shoreline resources in a manner that recognizes property rights and the public interest.”

The state approval culminates nine years of heated debate and potential rulemaking over a shoreline program that complies with the Shoreline Management Act and meets local needs and conditions.

Ecology and Spokane County worked collaboratively since the “conditional approval” of the county’s shoreline program in 2012 to complete a shoreline master program that meets legal requirements and was locally adopted.

Spokane County’s shoreline program:

About 200 cities and counties statewide are in the process or soon will be updating or crafting their shoreline programs. All Washington 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 Contact: Brook Beeler, Communications Manager, 509-329-3478; cell, 509-290-0855 (brook.beeler@ecy.wa.gov)

For more information:

Ecology’s website for City’s/County’s proposed shoreline master program (http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/sea/shorelines/smp/mycomments/SpokaneCounty.html)

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

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

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