Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Public asked to weigh in on scope of coastal marine spatial plan

By Jennifer Hennessey Coastal Planner, Shorelands & Environmental Assistance Program

From now through September 23, the state Ecology Department wants to get public input about what should be covered in a marine spatial plan for Washington’s 375 miles of ocean coastline.

Ecology also is seeking concurrent comment regarding the goals, objectives, boundaries and other scoping issues that should be assessed under a related environmental impact statement (EIS) for Washington’s outer coast.

The EIS will evaluate the alternatives and potential significant adverse impacts associated with developing the marine spatial plan.

Reviewing documents, how to comment

Those interested in reviewing the draft marine spatial planning and related EIS documents can comment electronically by replying to mspcomments@ecy.wa.gov. Ecology also is accepting comments by mail at:

Department of Ecology
Shorelands and Environmental Assistance Program
PO Box 47600
Olympia, WA 98504-7600

Spatial planning helps balance ocean uses and environmental protection

Washington adopted a marine spatial planning law as an approach to reduce conflicts among ocean uses and balance the benefits humans receive from the ocean while decreasing human-caused environmental damage.

The planning process collects, interprets and uses data to develop a framework for making informed, coordinated decisions without adding new regulations. The goal is to bring different interests together to balance the needs and goals of the public, our economy and marine environment.

Earlier workshops designed to move process forward

Earlier this year, Washington Sea Grant and the State Ocean Caucus conducted a series of workshops to help with planning. The sessions included representatives from local and tribal governments, state and federal agencies and the Washington Coastal Marine Advisory Council.

The marine advisory council is made up of a diverse group of coastal stakeholder representatives including coastal Marine Resource Committees. The council advises the State Ocean Caucus. A recently adopted law will reestablish this council in the Office of the Governor.

Once complete, Ecology will submit the marine spatial plan to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for review and approval. NOAA will authorize including the plan as part of Washington’s federally-approved coastal zone management program.

More information

For questions or more information about the coastal marine spatial plan or related EIS documents, please call me 360-407-6595.

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