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Ecology approves updated Wilkeson shoreline program
The Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) has approved the Town of Wilkeson’s comprehensively updated shoreline master program.
Wilkeson’s shoreline program will result in significant improvements in the protection, use, development and restoration of 1.5 miles of Wilkeson Creek.
Wilkeson is one of nearly 75 local governments that have completed their updates. The new master program combines local plans for future shoreline development and preservation with new shoreline development ordinances and related permitting requirements.
Ecology Southwest Region Shorelands Program Manager Paula Ehlers said: “Wilkeson’s shoreline master program will help protect the environmental health of our waters while at the same time diversifying the existing recreation opportunities along the town’s creek. By working together, we are protecting our treasured shoreline resources for ourselves as well as our children and future generations. Our shorelines make Washington a great place to live.”
About 190 cities and counties statewide are in the process of, or soon will be updating or crafting, 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.
Wilkeson’s process brought the historic community to the table to work collaboratively with planners. The shoreline master program process began with a thorough inventory of existing land-use patterns and environmental conditions and completed with consultant support.
Wilkeson Mayor Donna Hogerhuis said: “Wilkeson Creek is a major feature in our small town. We are pleased to work collaboratively with the Department of Ecology, keeping the town’s historic residential area in tact while developing a quality plan to protect the environment.”
Wilkeson’s shoreline master program:
- Provides the communities with a unique shoreline master program developed specifically to meet Wilkeson’s development pattern along Wilkeson Creek.
- Establishes all legally existing residential uses and structures as conforming.
- Encourages soft-bank erosion control methods and limits construction of new shoreline armoring such as bulkheads.
- 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.
Under state law, the local shoreline plan must be approved by Ecology before taking effect. It then becomes part of the state shoreline master program. If needed, the department will help defend Wilkeson’s shoreline program against legal challenges.
All of 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.