USA: Ecology OKs Camas Shoreline Program Update

Ecology OKs Camas Shoreline Program Update

The Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) has approved the City of Camas’s updated shoreline master program.

Camas’s shoreline program will result in significant improvements in the protection, use, development and restoration of 26 miles of shorelines. In addition, it will improve the water quality of many river, stream and lake shores in the city, including those along the Columbia and Washougal rivers, Lacamas Creek and Lacamas Lake.

Camas is one of more than 54 local governments, and the third in Clark County, that has completed an update. The updated master program combines local plans for future shoreline development and preservation with new shoreline development ordinances and related permitting requirements.

Ecology’s Southwest Regional Director Sally Toteff said: “This master program update marks a significant step in helping to protect quality of life, the environmental health of waters in the city, and the economic base reliant upon our waterways, including the largest river in our state – the Columbia River.”

About 200 cities and counties statewide are in the process of updating or soon will be 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. These groups included waterfront property owners, scientists, non-profit organizations, ports, businesses and state and local resource agency staff. The update began with a thorough inventory and analysis of existing land-use patterns and environmental conditions and was completed with consultant support and a grant from Ecology.

Camas Mayor Scott Higgins said: “With the state’s approval of this updated shoreline master program, an important required task is now complete. The approval of the plan provides predictability, which is very important for all local stakeholders. I commend the diverse parties who took part in the formulation and multiple reviews of the update. The path was long; patience, persistence and hard work were required. The work of city staff, Camas’s Shoreline Committee, and the City Council all helped us arrive at a notable achievement and an approved updated shoreline plan.”

Camas’s updated master program:

– Is the first comprehensive update of the city’s program since 1998.

– Was developed as part of a coordinated effort with Clark County and six other cities.

– Pre-plans for shorelines within the city’s urban growth areas.

– Provides shoreline regulations that are integrated with the city’s growth management planning and zoning, floodplain management and critical areas ordinances as part of a unified development code.

– Encourages soft-bank erosion control methods that protect property and habitat.

– Retains native vegetation along shorelines.

– Limits construction of new shoreline armoring, meaning structures that harden shorelines.

– Encourages voluntary improvements in water and upland areas to enhance the local shoreline environment.

State law requires Ecology Director Ted Sturdevant to give final approval authority for each city and county shoreline program, which then becomes part of the state shoreline master program. If needed, Ecology will help defend Camas’s shoreline program against legal challenges.

[mappress]

Press Release, September 17, 2012

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