Washington State Department of Ecology - April 29, 2013

13-115

Granite Falls shoreline program update approved

BELLEVUE - The Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) has approved Granite Falls’ new shoreline master program.

The program will result in significant improvements in the protection, use, development and restoration of nearly a mile of shoreline and the water quality of the Stillaguamish and Pilchuck rivers in the city. It combines local plans for future shoreline development and preservation with new shoreline development ordinances and related permitting requirements.

“Granite Falls has developed a shoreline master program that will help the statewide effort to protect the economic and environmental health of our waterways.  We appreciate the city’s work to involve many interested parties in this update.  Together, we are protecting our treasured shoreline resources now and for future generations,” said Erik Stockdale, Ecology’s acting regional shorelines program supervisor.

Cities and counties statewide are in the process of, or soon will be, updating or developing 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.

Granite Falls brought diverse local interests together to participate in the city’s update.  These groups included waterfront property owners, scientists, non-profit organizations, tribal government representatives, and state and local resource agency staff. The process began with a thorough inventory of existing land-use patterns and environmental conditions, completed with consultant support.

“The update will be the city of Granite Falls’ first Shoreline Master Program that truly is its own.  In the past, the city applied the Snohomish County goals and policies.  The city will now have a Shoreline Master Program based on studies and analysis that specifically relate to the shorelines located within Granite Falls.  The update will also make implementation more efficient and effective.  The South Fork of the Stillaguamish and the Pilchuck river shorelines are two of the community’s most important environmental assets,” said Ray Sturtz, Granite Falls City Planner.

Granite Falls’ shoreline master program:

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

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:

For more information:

Granite Falls shoreline master program (www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/sea/shorelines/smp/mycomments/GraniteFalls.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)