The Washington Department of Ecology (DOE) has approved the city of Lake Stevens’ updated shoreline master program.
The city’s shoreline program will result in significant improvements in the protection, use, development and restoration of 9.2 miles of shorelines and the water quality of lake, stream and associated wetlands in the city. Water bodies in the city include Lake Stevens, Catherine Creek and Little Pilchuck Creek.
The updated master program combines local plans for future shoreline development and preservation with new shoreline development ordinances and related permitting requirements.
“I appreciate the working together of city staff, our Lake Stevens residents and the Department of Ecology in coming to a Shoreline Master Program we can all work within to protect our lake environment,” said Lake Stevens Mayor Vern Little.
“Lake Stevens has developed a shoreline master program that will help the statewide effort to protect the economic and environmental health of our waterways,” said Erik Stockdale, Ecology’s acting regional shorelines program supervisor. “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.”
Cities, towns 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.
The city’s process brought diverse 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. These groups included waterfront property owners, state and local resource agency staff.
Lake Stevens’ shoreline master program:
• Integrates the city’s shoreline regulations with its growth management, planning and zoning, and critical areas ordinances.
• Establishes buffers and setbacks to ensure no net loss to the environmental benefits of healthy shorelines over time.
• Limits the size of new residential docks and piers to the minimum necessary to serve moorage needs.
• 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.
• 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. The department will help defend the city’s shoreline program against legal challenges.
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.