Proposed Abstract Title

The Shoreline Management Act and shoreline armoring

Presenter/Author Information

Kyle Loring, Friends of the San JuansFollow

Type of Presentation

Oral

Session Title

Protecting Natural Shoreline Functions with Existing Regulations and New Approaches

Location

2016SSEC

Description

In 1972, Washington enacted the Shoreline Management Act (“SMA”) to protect the state’s shoreline resources as fully as possible by thoughtfully managing shoreline development and providing public access to public waters. Or perhaps to promote shoreline residential development while protecting shoreline resources if it does not interfere with property owner expectations. Depending on the context, and given the SMA’s multifaceted purpose statement, it can mean many things to many people.

To the extent that its primary purpose is to protect shorelines while supporting reasonable use, the SMA has yet to achieve complete success; shoreline resources and natural functions continue to be lost to shoreline development such as bulkheads. However, the SMA’s structure and its implementing regulations bring that goal within reach if local jurisdictions and the Department of Ecology choose to meet it. To do so will require the use of scientific information that has been gathered about the functions that occur along Washington’s shorelines, and the impacts that different activities can cause. Some local jurisdictions are making better use of this information, or applying more protection in the absence of full information, than others.

This presentation will explore methods by which the SMA could prevent the impacts of unnecessary shoreline armoring, a type of development that the Puget Sound Partnership has identified as a significant threat to healthy shorelines in the Salish Sea. In doing so, the presentation may address questions like: (1) can the SMA protect and restore shoreline functions? and (2) can the no-net-loss standard protect shoreline functions if it authorizes impacting development without guaranteed compensation of lost functions?

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The Shoreline Management Act and shoreline armoring

2016SSEC

In 1972, Washington enacted the Shoreline Management Act (“SMA”) to protect the state’s shoreline resources as fully as possible by thoughtfully managing shoreline development and providing public access to public waters. Or perhaps to promote shoreline residential development while protecting shoreline resources if it does not interfere with property owner expectations. Depending on the context, and given the SMA’s multifaceted purpose statement, it can mean many things to many people.

To the extent that its primary purpose is to protect shorelines while supporting reasonable use, the SMA has yet to achieve complete success; shoreline resources and natural functions continue to be lost to shoreline development such as bulkheads. However, the SMA’s structure and its implementing regulations bring that goal within reach if local jurisdictions and the Department of Ecology choose to meet it. To do so will require the use of scientific information that has been gathered about the functions that occur along Washington’s shorelines, and the impacts that different activities can cause. Some local jurisdictions are making better use of this information, or applying more protection in the absence of full information, than others.

This presentation will explore methods by which the SMA could prevent the impacts of unnecessary shoreline armoring, a type of development that the Puget Sound Partnership has identified as a significant threat to healthy shorelines in the Salish Sea. In doing so, the presentation may address questions like: (1) can the SMA protect and restore shoreline functions? and (2) can the no-net-loss standard protect shoreline functions if it authorizes impacting development without guaranteed compensation of lost functions?