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Shoreline Master Programs

Exemptions for environmental projects

Exemptions for environmental projects The Shoreline Management Act (SMA) exempts several classes of environmentally beneficial projects from permit requirements.

  • Aquatic noxious weed control
  • Fish or wildlife habitat improvement
  • Shoreline and watershed restoration
  • Hazardous and toxic cleanup

Aquatic noxious weed control

In RCW 90.58.030(3)(e)(xii), the SMA exempts the process of removing or controlling certain aquatic noxious weeds such as Spartina, dwarf eelgrass, and purple loosestrife.

The exemption applies to treatment of plants defined as noxious in state law RCW 17.26.020.

The control methods (whether herbicide or other treatment methods) must be those recommended by a final environmental impact statement published by the state Department of Agriculture under chapter 43.21C RCW.

Fish and wildlife habitat improvement

A public or private project that is designed to improve fish or wildlife habitat or fish passage is exempt from the substantial development permit requirements when criteria in RCW 90.58.147 are met.

Shoreline and watershed restoration

Under RCW 90.58.580(3), a substantial development permit is not required on land within urban growth areas as defined in RCW 36.70A.030 that is brought under shoreline jurisdiction due to a shoreline restoration project creating a landward shift in the ordinary high water mark.

Under RCW 90.58.515, watershed restoration projects as defined in RCW 89.08.460 are exempt from the requirement to obtain a substantial development permit.

Local government are required to review the projects for consistency with the locally adopted shoreline master program in an expeditious manner and shall issue its decision along with any conditions within forty-five days of receiving a complete consolidated application form from the applicant. No fee may be charged for accepting and processing applications for watershed restoration projects.

Hazardous and toxic cleanup

A special kind of exemption applies to projects for which a consent decree, order or agreed order has been issued pursuant to the Model Toxics Control Act (MTCA) RCW 70.105D and to Ecology remedial actions. Although these projects must comply with the substantive requirements of the SMA and the local SMP, they are exempt from all procedural requirements of the SMA. See RCW 90.58.355

For more information

Contact Ecology's shoreline permit reviewer serving your town, city, or county.