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 has taken public 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.
Comments were due Feb. 27. To see comments that have been submitted (with a few days’ lag time) and for more information on the Draft SMP: http://www.clallam.net/LandUse/SMP.html.
OCA’s main talking points (for full comments, see links above):
- 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.