Thursday, November 2, 2017

Public invited to comment on proposed updates to Cathlamet shoreline plan

Nov. 30 is your last day to speak up!

A view of the Cathlamet shoreline looking upriver from the Broadway Dock. In the background is the
Julia Butler Hansen Bridge, which opened in 1939.
Along the Ocean Beach Highway in Southwest Wash, about half way between Longview and Ilwaco, sits the hamlet of Cathlamet – the Seat of Wahkiakum County. A small town by just about any calculation – its total area is about one-half of a square mile. The town is also the site of one of the earliest known villages of Columbia River Native Americans. The Corps of Discovery visited the village in 1805-1806, while wintering at Fort Clatsop, finding about 300 people living in cedar plank houses.

A view of the Columbia River from Birnie Creek.
Much like the indigenous residents met by Lewis and Clark more than 200 years ago, today, Cathlamet is home to about 500 people who take great pride in their home and its location along one of the greatest and most productive river systems in the world. The current development pattern now includes residential, commercial, utility, and water-dependent activities such as the marina and a tug & barge operator. Public access facilities like the town’s pier and dock, Strong Park and its historical displays, and waterfront trail are also popular features, allowing residents and visitors to connect with the shoreline.

From the Broadway Dock, a view down the Columbia River.
From now through November 30, the Department of Ecology is seeking public comment on the Town of Cathlamet’s proposed update to its Shoreline Master Program, which applies to about 3 miles of Columbia River waterfront along the Elochoman Slough and Cathlamet Channel.

The Shoreline Master Program hasn’t been modernized in more than 40 years and includes updated goals, policies, regulations, environment designations, and administrative provisions that are locally tailored to reflect current conditions and
community vision for future shoreline use
and development.
Elochoman Slough.

The updated master program prioritizes water-oriented uses, habitat protection, public access, and ecological restoration and allows for legal existing uses and structures to continue.

The public has until 5 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 30, to comment. The Department of Ecology will then study the proposed program and compare it to the requirements of the Shoreline Management Act and the Shoreline Master Program Guidelines. Based on the comparison, we will decide whether to approve the program as is, approve it with recommended changes, or send it back to Cathlamet with required changes to meet statutory and rule requirements. Recommended changes may also be included with the required changes.

There are three ways to comment and ask questions by contacting the Ecology Shoreline Planner:

Call:    360-407-6349
Write: Washington Department of Ecology
            Southwest Regional Office – SEA Program
            Attn: Michelle McConnell
            PO Box 47775
            Olympia , WA 98504-7775
The electronic documents out for public review and comment can be found online.

Paper copies are available for viewing, by appointment, at the following locations:

Washington State Department of Ecology
Southwest Regional Office
300 Desmond Drive
Lacey, Washington 98503
Staff contact: Michelle McConnell
Phone: 360-407-6349

Cathlamet Town Hall
375 2nd Street
Cathlamet, Washington 98612
Staff contact: Kerrie McNally, Clerk
Phone: 360-795-3203

by Dave Bennett, Ecology Communications

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