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Pacific's updated shoreline master program approved

For the Reporter

The Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) has approved the City of Pacific's updated shoreline master program.

The program will result in significant improvements in the protection, use, development and restoration of 41 acres of floodplain and 1.4 miles of shoreline along the White River in the city.

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

"Adoption of Pacific's updated shoreline master program is an important step that will help in making future decisions related to shoreline development, floodplain management and restoration along the White River," said Geoff Tallent, regional shoreline manager with Ecology.

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.

Pacific's process brought diverse local interests to the table to work collaboratively. These groups included tribal government representatives, waterfront property owners and state and local resource agency staff. The process began with a thorough inventory of existing land-use patterns and environmental conditions, completed with consultant support.

Pacific's shoreline master program:

• Integrates shoreline regulations with the city's growth management planning and zoning, floodplain management and critical areas ordinances, as part of a unified development code.

• Encourages public access to shoreline areas throughout the city.

• 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.

Under state law, the local shoreline must receive approval from Ecology before taking effect. It then becomes part of the state shoreline master program. The department will help defend city's shoreline program against legal challenges.

Washington's cities and counties with regulated shorelines must update their programs by December 2014, following regulations adopted by Ecology in 2003. The regulations resulted from a negotiated settlement among 58 different parties including business interests, ports, environmental groups, shoreline user groups, cities and counties, Ecology and the courts.

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