Department of Ecology approves Buckley’s shoreline master program

NOTE: the following is a press release issued the morning of June 13 by the state Department of Ecology.

The Washington Department of Ecology has approved Buckley’s updated shoreline master program.

Buckley’s shoreline program provides significant improvements in the protection, use, development, and restoration of more than three miles of shoreline and the water quality of the White River in Buckley.

Buckley is one of nearly 81 local governments that have completed updates. The updated 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: “Buckley’s shoreline master program helps protect the economic and environmental health of the White River. Our shorelines make Washington a great place to live, and contribute to the health of Puget Sound. It’s important to work together to protect these treasured shoreline resources for ourselves as well as our children and future generations.”

About 150 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.

Buckley’s process brought local interests to the table to work collaboratively.  The shoreline master program process began with a thorough inventory of existing land-use patterns and environmental conditions and was completed with consultant support. Cascade Water Alliance, representatives from the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe, Buckley citizens, and city elected officials all contributed.

Buckley’s shoreline master program:

Incorporates protective buffers of 150 to 200 feet from the Critical Areas Regulations with the flexibility to reduce buffers to accommodate water dependent uses as well as increase public access on the publically held shoreline areas.

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 Buckley’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.

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