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Published on Friday, July 22, 2016

Ecology releases preliminary draft of changes to shoreline rules

The Department of Ecology (Ecology) is in the process of amending several rules related to the Shoreline Management Act (SMA), which establishes a cooperative program of shoreline management between local governments and the state. Ecology announced rulemaking back in September 2015, and has now released a preliminary draft of proposed amendments. Releasing a preliminary draft is an optional step the agency is taking to get early input before shaping the formal proposal. The formal proposal is anticipated for December 2016, with adoption anticipated for the summer of 2017.

Changes to the rules aim to:

  1. Clarify the process to comply with the periodic review requirement per RCW 90.58.080 as the first round of Shoreline Master Program (SMP) reviews will be due to Ecology June 2019;
  2. Create an optional joint process for approving amendments to local Shoreline Master Programs;
  3. Clarify the planning process for water-dependent uses including salmon net pens;
  4. Add a reference to Ecology guidance to address sea level rise; and
  5. Ensure consistency with amendments to statute and capturing any administrative updates since the last rule revision.
To make the preliminary draft more readable and user friendly, Ecology has separated the material into five discussion papers, one on each topic listed above. The five papers together constitute the preliminary draft. The papers are available for informal comment July 15 – August 26, 2016. You can find more information, including how to provide input, by visiting Ecology’s web site.
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