Shoreline Protection

Washington’s Shoreline Management Act was passed by the State Legislature in 1971 and adopted by voters in 1972. The overarching goal of the Act is “to prevent the inherent harm in an uncoordinated and piecemeal development of the state’s shorelines.” These shorelines include rivers and streams with greater than 20 cubic feet per second mean annual flow; upland areas called shorelands that extend 200 feet landward from the edge of these waters; and the following areas when they are associated with one of the above: biological wetlands and river deltas and some or all of the 100-year floodplain including all wetlands within the 100-year floodplain.

The Act also states that “the interests of all the people shall be paramount in the management of shorelines of statewide significance.” These special shorelines include larger rivers (1,000 cubic feet per second or greater for rivers in Western Washington, 200 cubic feet per second and greater east of Cascade crest, which includes the White Salmon River) and associated wetlands.

Under the Shoreline Management Act (SMA), each city and county with “shorelines of the state” must prepare and adopt a Shoreline Master Program (SMP) that is based on state laws and rules but is tailored to the specific geographic, economic and environmental needs of the community. The local SMP is essentially a shoreline-specific combined comprehensive plan, zoning ordinance, and development permit system.

The Department of Ecology approved Klickitat County Shoreline Master Plan has been developed to ensure that appropriate development/activities occur on shorelines of state-wide significance. Proposed development/activities on shorelines of state-wide significance shall be evaluated in a manner that will give preference to uses in the following order:

(A) Recognize and protect the state-wide interest over local interest;

(B) Preserve the natural character of the shoreline;

(C) Result in long term over short term benefit;

(D) Protect the resources and ecology of the shoreline;

(E) Increase public access to publicly owned areas of the shoreline;

(F) Increase recreational opportunities for the public in the shorelines;

(G) Provide for any other element as defined in RCW 90-58-100 deemed appropriate or necessary.

The County has designated stretches of the White Salmon River system based on the Master Plan.

White Salmon River and its tributary shorelines and associated corridors must be developed addressing site-specific and cumulative impacts under the WA State Environmental Policy Act such that natural character of shorelines is preserved, resources and ecology of the shoreline are protected, public access to publicly owned shoreline areas is increased, and shoreline recreational opportunities are increased. Shoreline development should also be consistent with the Wild and Scenic River Management Plan for the White Salmon River. The proposed Husum/BZ Sub-Area Plan does not adequately address these shoreline requirements.

See Wild and Scenic Lower White Salmon River and Husum/BZ Sub-Area Plan for additional discussions.