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Shoreline Master Programs

Benton County Shoreline Master Program: Comprehensive Update

Para obtener ayuda en español referente a las noticias recientes sobre el Programa maestro de Tierras Costeras del Condado de Benton, favor de comunicarse con Greg Bohn al (509) 454-4174 o gboh461@ecy.wa.gov.

On February 2, 2015, the Department of Ecology approved Benton County’s Shoreline Master Program (SMP) comprehensive update. Per RCW 90.58.090, the effective date of Benton County’s shoreline program is February 16, 2015, 14 days after Ecology provided notice to the county that their shoreline program was approved.

The comprehensive update revises the existing shoreline program, including the goals, policies, regulations, shoreline environment designations, and administrative procedures and definitions. This approval puts the final stamp on a significant effort that minimizes environmental damage to shoreline areas, reserves appropriate areas for water-oriented uses, and protects people’s access to public land and waters.

On January 7, 2015, the Department of Ecology provided Benton County with required and recommended changes to the county’s proposed comprehensive update of their Shoreline Master Program (SMP).

The changes are based on Ecology’s review of whether or not the proposed update complies with state laws and rules, and a public comment period held August 11 – September 11, 2014.

Ecology used mail and email to notify parties who had expressed prior interest. Ecology also issued a news release to encourage additional public participation and comment. Ecology received three written comments. Commenter’s focused on a variety of topics including the location and regulation of irrigation and return flow facilities on the Yakima River, public access, critical areas, and archaeological resources.

One commenter expressed concern that the shoreline administrator can approve another public access plan, and that public access for subdivisions larger than four parcels and residential development with more than four units is not adequately addressed. Comments on critical areas included the following recommendations:

  • Expand shoreline jurisdiction to include critical area buffers;
  • Provide more specific avoidance criteria for wetlands;
  • Include areas of specific susceptibility and site classes (per Department of Natural Resources’ Liquefaction Susceptibility and Site Class Maps) as geological hazards;
  • Give county staff the authority to require a geotechnical report when proposed buildings are susceptible to damage from landslides or other geological hazards; and
  • Set buffers for landslides on a case-by-case basis using the site analysis.

One commenter recommended requiring consultation and archaeological investigations for areas suspected to contain archaeological resources.

Ecology prepared a summary of public comments and sent this to Benton County on September 16, 2014. The public comments and county’s responses have been incorporated into a Responsiveness Summary, Attachment D.

Documents related to approval

Note: All documents are PDF.

Paper copies of the above documents are available by contacting Lennard Jordan, Washington Department of Ecology (see Staff contact, below).


  • Per RCW 90.58.190(2) and RCW 36.70A.290, an interested party may file an appeal with the Growth Management Hearings Board within 60 days of the publication date of Ecology’s written notice of final action.
  • Ecology plans to publish the notice of final action in the Tri-City Herald legal ads on February 20, 2015.

Staff contact

Lennard Jordan
Washington Department of Ecology
Central Regional Office
1250 West Alder Street
Union Gap, Washington 98903-0009
(509) 457-7125

For more information

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