The Times - Serving Waitsburg, Dayton and the Touchet Valley

 

By Michele Smith
The Times 

Shorelines Plan Approved by State

Three-County Coalition’s Master Program Update included 5 jurisdictions

 


DAYTON—The Washington State Department of Ecology has accepted the tri-county Southeast Washington Shoreline Master Program Update, with “no proposed changes”.

“This is a huge deal,” said Columbia County Planning Director Kim Lyonnaise. “It’s really big.”

Lyonnaise met with officials in Garfield and Asotin Counties in February 2014, about the possibility of collaborating on updates to their respective regional master shoreline plans.

Because of similarities in topography and demographics, and because they are linked by the Snake River, they agreed to work together. They also brought the cities of Starbuck and Clarkston on board to create the first ever five-jurisdiction coalition in the state.

The coalition leadership team, along with their consulting firm, worked to maintain communications among elected officials and staff, receive citizen and technical input, and to communicate with DOE about their progress.

Last July, the coalition approved the policies, regulations, and public access plan in their proposed SMP update. A final draft was sent to DOE for review in August.

Lyonnaise said his office learned about DOE’s acceptance of the coalition’s three-year efforts last month. The DOE said the SMP was a “very good” plan, and should work well for the state and for the tri-county jurisdictions, said Lyonnaise. “I’m proud of the success, and the product,” he said.

“Elements that led to this successful effort included a commitment by elected officials to work together, creativity in developing solutions to tough policy questions, and the commitment to communications,” said Lyonnaise. “Without these efforts, the SWCSMP update would not have been made possible.”

The Shoreline Master Program update process balances and integrates objectives and interests of local citizens while complying with state laws and rules. Key principles of the SMP include striking a balance among environmental protection, public access, and water oriented uses, and achieving a “no net loss” of ecological functions, as they existed in southeast Washington in 2014.

 

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