USA: Ecology OKs North Bend’s Shoreline Master Program

Ecology OKs North Bend's Shoreline Master Program

The Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) has approved the city of North Bend’s updated shoreline master program.

North Bend’s shoreline program will result in significant improvements in the protection, use, development and restoration along the city’s eight miles of shorelines on the South Fork and Middle Fork of the Snoqualmie River.

“The city of North Bend sits between the South and Middle forks of the Snoqualmie River. Its shorelines are an essential part of what makes North Bend a great place to live and are an important part of our quality of life,” said Mayor Ken Hearing. “The update of our master program reflects three years of hard work by our staff, Planning Commission and City Council, resulting in a finished product that we can be proud of.”

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

North Bend’s shoreline master program will benefit the economic and environmental health of the South and Middle Forks of the Snoqualmie River and associated wetlands. Working together, the city and people representing a variety of interests have helped ensure the present and future protection of these treasured shoreline and water resources,” said Geoff Tallent, who oversees Ecology’s shoreline management activities in northwest Washington.

About 200 cities and counties statewide are – or soon will be – updating or developing 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.

North Bend’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 completed with consultant support. These groups included shoreline property owners, scientists, and state and local resource agency staff.

North Bend’s shoreline master program:

– Incorporates the city’s critical areas regulations, which include fish and wildlife habitat conservation areas and frequently flooded areas.

– Recognizes the preservation of existing intact riparian and wetland vegetation within natural and urban conservancy shoreline environment designations.

– Establishes buffers on the Snoqualmie River South and Middle Forks that recognize existing development, variable floodway widths and intact ecological functions.

– 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.

State law requires Ecology to review each city and county shoreline program. Final approval by Ecology’s director makes the local program part of the state shoreline master program.

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Press Release, January 18, 2013

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