Tag Archives: Shoreline Master Program

Clallam shoreline plan needs to consider climate change more seriously

At today’s hearing on Clallam County’s Draft Shoreline Master Program (September 2017, Ed Chadd submitted the following comments on behalf of OCA, urging greater consideration of climate change in shoreline planning in order to protect both the public and County government (news article here):

I am here representing Olympic Climate Action, a group of local citizens dedicated to researching, educating, and acting on the issue of climate change, with a distinctly local focus. We have a mailing list of more than 700, and our monthly meetings consistently draw 15-20 Clallam County residents concerned about climate change education, adaptation, and mitigation.  These comments on the County’s draft Shoreline Master Program reflect the consensus of our group, developed at these monthly meetings over the course of more than two years.

We believe one goal of the SMP should be to inform Clallam County residents of potential climate change impacts.  In a prior draft, Goal #13 was “To protect people and property from adverse impacts related to climate change and to promote resiliency in responding to climate change impacts.” We note with concern that this goal has been removed from the current draft, and we would like a clearly-stated reason as to why. Continue reading

OCA Statement on draft Shoreline Master Program

On 7/5/17 OCA sent the following statement to the Clallam County Planning Commission concerning the Shoreline Master Program, updating our earlier comments on the previous draft of the SMP:

My name is Robert Vreeland.  I am a member of the executive committee with the Olympic Climate Action group which has more than 600 members in Clallam County.  We believe that one of the goals of the Shoreline Master Program (SMP) should be to inform Clallam County residents of potential climate change impacts.  This goal, pg. 1-18, was in an earlier draft but has been removed from the current draft.  The earlier draft Goal #13 stated “To protect people and property from adverse impacts related to climate change and to promote resiliency in responding to climate change impacts.”

At its recent meeting Olympic Climate Action agreed that in order to manage risk and liability, the County’s SMP should fully acknowledge the imminent potential for sea level rise.  Acknowledgement of climate change impact projections is particularly important to residents owning properties along low lying shorelines, Shoreline Residential – Intensive and Marine Waterfront Designations.  Some of these properties (e.g. 3 Crabs and Diamond Point) may be exposed to sea level rise and storm surge inundation by as early as 2030, based on projections in the Climate Change Preparedness Plan for the North Olympic Peninsula, Sept. 2015 (see http://www.noprcd.org/about2).  Given the existing technical studies and maps showing severe threats to dozens if not hundreds of low-elevation shoreline properties, often within 10-15 years, OCA believes County citizens could be financially liable for property losses to homeowners as well as home buyers if these risks aren’t clearly indicated in the most relevant County-wide planning document used to guide development and land use decisions.

The 2017 Draft SMP presently contains policies and a regulation regarding climate change and/or sea level rise and storm surge for: Restoration (pg. 3-32), Transportation (pg. 3-36), Buffers (pg. 6-1) and Regulations – General, 14 Shoreline stabilization (pg. 4-23).  We believe it is imperative that similar policies or regulations be incorporated for residential shoreline properties < 200 feet deep measured from the Ordinary High Water Mark (OHWM) landward, given these properties have the smallest buffers for Minor New Development, 50 feet.  It may be appropriate to have similar policies/regulations for Shoreline Residential – Intensive and Marine Waterfront, Minor New Development on lots > 200 feet deep (75-foot buffers), as well as Major New Development and Shoreline Residential – Conservancy Minor New Development < 200 feet deep (100-foot buffer), if these properties are low-lying and could be potentially subject to sea level rise and storm surge in the near future.

Furthermore, “hard” shoreline armoring such as rip rap and sea walls, even if mitigated, will impact the neighboring properties, coastal sedimentation system, and nearshore ecology, and these risks need to be acknowledged in the SMP.  At the Clallam County Planning Commission meeting of 6/21/17, the consultant for Clallam County on the SMP mentioned that there are approximately 83 parcels in the 3 Crabs and Diamond Point areas that could be permitted to install hard armoring to protect their properties.

 

OCA COMMENTS TWICE ON CLALLAM COUNTY’S SHORELINE PLAN

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 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.

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).

OCA notes gap in draft County shoreline plan

Last month, OCA sent a letter to the Clallam County Department of Community Development noting a gap in the Department’s analysis of threats in its proposed update to its Shoreline Master Program (SMP), required under the state Shoreline Management Act – namely, the lack of any reference to the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe’s study of probable climate impacts in the eastern part of Clallam County–arguably the most recent scientific study of climate impacts relative to shorelines in Clallam County.  We plan to submit more extensive and detailed comments about the draft SMP during public hearings in February.