Ecology OKs Twisp’s Shoreline Program (USA)

Ecology OKs Twisp’s Shoreline Program

Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) Director Ted Sturdevant has approved the town of Twisp’s comprehensive update to its shoreline master program. Twisp’s program will become part of Okanogan County’s shoreline regulations and the state’s overall shoreline master program (SMP).

Twisp’s updated shoreline program will protect the use, development, restoration and water quality of the shorelines of the Methow and Twisp rivers. It combines new shoreline development ordinances and related permitting requirements with local plans for future shoreline development and preservation.

Twisp is the first city in Okanogan County to have its local program approved as part of the regional shoreline program update. Updates are also underway in the county and in the cities of Brewster, Okanogan, Omak, Oroville, Pateros, Tonasket, and Winthrop. Twisp joins 52 other local governments statewide that have completed their updates. Some 200 jurisdictions statewide have until 2014 to complete SMP updates.

Shoreline master programs are the cornerstone of the voter-approved Shoreline Management Act of 1972. Under the law, cities and counties with regulated shorelines are required 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.

A diverse group representing local interests worked collaboratively with Twisp to update the local shoreline master program. The process began with a thorough inventory of existing land-use patterns and environmental conditions and was prepared and completed with private consultant support. These groups included waterfront property owners, scientists, non-profit organizations, tribal government representatives, agricultural interests, and state and local resource agency staff.

Twisp’s shoreline program:

– Creates a more unified and efficient development code for shorelines that integrates Twisp’s comprehensive planning and zoning, and floodplain management and critical areas ordinances.

– Establishes protective buffers to protect fish and wildlife habitat, with the flexibility to reduce buffers based on individual property circumstances.

– Increases property protection from shoreline erosion through the use of soft-bank erosion control methods, and limiting use of hard-armoring that may endanger neighboring properties.

– Includes a plan showing where and how voluntary restoration in water and upland areas can enhance shoreline benefits and values.

Washington’s cities and counties with regulated shorelines have until December 2014 to update their shoreline master programs. The regulations and deadline were the result of a negotiated settlement in 2003 among 58 different parties including business interests, ports, environmental groups, shoreline user groups, cities and counties, Ecology, and the courts.

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Dredging Today Staff, August 17, 2012

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