Comment on Clallam County’s Shorelines Plan by Feb. 27

OCA’s comments to the Planning Commission on the draft SMP – Part One

OCA’s comments to the Planning Commission on the draft SMP – Part Two

Clallam County is replete with coastal and inland waters, both marine and fresh.  These waters, the stuff of life, are at the heart of our unique character and natural systems.  Orcas, fish, wildlife, plant communities, and clean water depend upon well-functioning shorelines.

The County Planning Commission is accepting your comments on a revised draft of Clallam County’s Shoreline Master Program (SMP).  Public support is needed to adopt a locally-based SMP that embraces environmental safeguards for Clallam County’s hundreds of miles of shoreline.  These shorelines are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, including sea-level rise, more severe storms and storm surges, erosion, and ocean acidification.

Please attend the public hearing at the Clallam County Courthouse at 6:30 PM on February 18 and provide testimony, or submit comments electronically by COB on Feb. 27 to SMP@co.clallam.wa.us.   For more information on the Draft SMP http://www.clallam.net/LandUse/SMP.html.  Here are some talking points:

  • Personalize your comments to reflect your interest in shorelines. Are you a shoreline property owner? A beach walker? A clam digger? An angler? A bird watcher?
  • The SMP should adopt a protective setback, given the increased potential for erosion due to climate change. Other counties in the Puget Sound region have adopted 125’, 150’ and even 250’ vegetative buffers. Clallam County should set buffers based on best available science, including projected impacts of climate change.
  • A major study of the projected local impacts of climate change is being conducted right now, with a draft report due by the end of June.  Sections of the SMP that could be impacted by climate change should await the publication of this study, or at least be written in such a way that emerging scientific findings will trigger necessary revisions to the SMP.
  • Clallam County and Planning Commission should give preference to protecting and restoring the ecological functions of the shorelines – for water quality, habitat, refuge for salmon, etc.  Intact ecological function will be key to resilience to the impacts of a changing climate.
  • The SMP should limit the erection or expansion of hard structures such as jetties, sea-walls, bulkheads, and riprap on shorelines. These artificial structures alter water movement in ways that increase erosive energy elsewhere, accelerating the breakdown of the system as a whole. Alternatives such as “soft armoring” should be promoted and incentivized.
  • For more detail, see the comments sent by OCA on the draft SMP (links above).