State approves county’s new shoreline protection plan

Aug 01, 2012

Snohomish County’s updated shoreline master program has been approved by the Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology).

The county’s updated program replaces its 1974 shoreline program – a set of guidelines that will result in significant improvements in the protection, use, development and restoration of the county’s estimated 2,000 miles of freshwater and marine shorelines.

The update combines local plans for future development and preservation with new development ordinances and related permitting requirements. The update also significantly improves alignment of shoreline codes with environmental protection and with the county’s current comprehensive land-use plan and other codes.

“The adoption of our updated Shoreline Master Program is a tremendous accomplishment for Snohomish County. It was truly a coordinated effort between the county, our citizens and many key stakeholders,” said Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon.

“This plan ensures that the goals of the Shoreline Management Act are being met and that our shorelines will continue to be protected for this and future generations.”

The revised master program combines local plans for future shoreline development and preservation with new shoreline development ordinances and related permitting requirements.

“This is a great accomplishment by Snohomish County. The updated shoreline master program will benefit the county’s extensive and diverse freshwater and marine shoreline areas both economically and environmentally,” said Gordon White, Ecology shorelands program manager.

“I also greatly appreciate the countless hours of collaboration among county officials and people representing a variety of interests.  Healthy shorelines contribute much of what makes Washington a great place to live.”

Snohomish County brought diverse local interests to the table to plan and develop the update, beginning with a thorough inventory of existing land-use patterns and environmental conditions.

These groups included shoreline property owners, scientists, tribal representatives, environmental interest groups, and state and local resource agency staff.

Snohomish County’s shoreline master program:

• Incorporates the county’s critical areas regulations, which include fish and wildlife habitat conservation areas and geologic hazard areas.

• Protects habitat and water quality through regulations that apply to marine and freshwater shorelines.

• Includes shoreline stabilization standards that promote more natural nonstructural options.

• Provides a table to help explain what activities are permitted under each type of shoreline designation.

• 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.

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.

For more information on the county’s updated plan, contact Terri Strandberg, principal planner in the county’s Planning and Development Services Department, at 425-388-3311, ext. 2359 or

For more information on state requirements for Shoreline Master Program, contact Larry Altose, Ecology media relations, at 206-920-2600 or

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