Friday, May 21, 2010

Be the wave in your local shoreline master program

By Cedar Bouta, planner and communications specialist, Ecology Shorelands and Environmental Assistance Program

There are 28,000 miles of shoreline in our state – equal to flying around the globe. That means there’s about 22 linear feet of shoreline for every man, woman, and child living in Washington.

Where’s your favorite piece of beach, stretch of rock and water?

What do you want it to look like 5, 10, 50 years from now?

As a Washington native born on the shores of the Columbia River, I feel a strong draw to all shorelines – the place where land and water meet. There’s magic in shorelines where children fly kites and fishermen cast flies, where snow-fed rivers rise and fall, and waves move mountains of sand.

I also feel a kinship with others who care about Washington’s shorelines. On a recent trip to a Tacoma waterfront park, I saw seniors strolling, families picnicking, dogs swimming, sailboats cruising, barges moving goods, and restaurants serving local seafood.

There were hundreds of people (and dogs!) enjoying access to our public shoreline. A month ago, I visited a coworker who lives on a local lake. We took in the view and birds from their waterfront property.

Right now, more than 250 towns, cities and counties are making decisions that will affect your future relationship to shorelines. They are updating local Shoreline Master Programs and deciding where parks and marinas, waterfront homes, and fishing spots will be.

They are answering tough questions:
  • How do we allow development and protect our resource-based economy?

  • How do we protect both the public’s right to access their waters and shorelines, and protect private property rights?

  • How do we plan for our needs, without compromising our children’s future?
These tough questions will take all Washingtonians to answer them. That’s why Ecology requires local governments that are updating Shoreline Master Programs to create a public participation plan and engage “all interested parties.”

Most cities and counties are providing ample options to be heard – citizen advisory groups, surveys, focus groups, public meetings, reviewing and commenting on technical and policy documents. If you care about shorelines, contact your city or county planning office and share your point of view about shorelines.

The future is listening. Learn more about getting involved in charting the future of Washington’s shorelines.

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