Department of Ecology News Release - March 4, 2013


Ecology starts review of the Oak Harbor shoreline program update, seeks public comment

BELLEVUE – The Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) seeks public comment on Oak Harbor’s recently updated shoreline master program.

The proposed updated shoreline program will guide construction and development on the city’s 13 miles of marine shorelines. The city’s proposed Shoreline Master Program consists of unique shoreline environment designations, buffers and setbacks.  It combines local plans for future development and preservation with new development ordinances and related permitting requirements.

Oak Harbor’s locally tailored shoreline program is designed to help minimize environmental damage to shoreline areas, reserve appropriate areas for water-dependent and oriented uses, and protect the public’s right to public land and waters.

Under Washington’s 1972 voter-approved Shoreline Management Act, Ecology must review and approve Oak Harbor’s proposed shoreline program before it takes effect.  About 190 cities and counties statewide are in the process or soon will be updating or crafting their master programs.

Ecology will accept public comment on Oak Harbor’s proposed shoreline program until 5 p.m. on April 8, 2013. Comments and questions should be addressed to David Pater, Department of Ecology, Shorelands and Environmental Assistance Program, 3190 160th Avenue SE Bellevue, Washington 98008, by email to, or call 425-649-4253.

Oak Harbor’s proposed shoreline program and related documents can be reviewed at:

After the public comment period, Ecology may approve the proposed shoreline master program as written, reject it or direct the city to modify specific parts.  Once approved by Ecology, Oak Harbor’s shoreline program will become part of the overall state shoreline master program.

Oak Harbor’s proposed updated master program:

Incorporates the city’s critical areas regulations and flood damage prevention code.  Establishes appropriate shoreline environment designations that recognize established shoreline uses and existing intact shoreline habitat. Tailors unique shoreline setbacks and buffers to each shoreline environment designation. Recognizes the preservation of existing wetland vegetation within shoreline designated as “urban conservancy shoreline environment.” Encourages soft-bank erosion control methods and limits construction of new shoreline armoring. Includes a restoration plan showing where and how voluntary improvements in water and upland areas can enhance the local shoreline environment. Helps support the broader initiative to protect and restore Puget Sound.

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:

  Larry Altose, Regional Communications Manager, 425-649-7009, 

  David Pater, Ecology Shoreline Planner, 425-649-4253,

  Ethan Spoo, Senior Planner City of Oak Harbor, 360-279-4513,

For more information:

Oak Harbor’s proposed shoreline master program: 

More about shoreline master programs  (

Our Living Shorelines web portal  (

Ecology's social media (