USA: Ecology OKs Granite Falls Shoreline Program
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:
– Integrates shoreline regulations with the city’s growth management planning and zoning, floodplain management and critical areas ordinances as part of a unified development code.
– Establishes protective buffers of 40 to 225 feet, with the flexibility to reduce buffers based on individual property circumstances.
– Prohibits new docks and piers.
– Encourages soft-bank erosion control methods and limits construction of new shoreline armoring.
– 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.
Press Release, April 30, 2013