REGIONAL SHORELINE MASTER PROGRAM
Seven jurisdictions in Thurston County have shorelines that require local and state management under the Shoreline Management Act (SMA). These seven jurisdictions have individually adopted a single regulatory and policy document, which is called a Shoreline Master Program (SMP).
Lake Lawrence image courtesy of Rob Green
The existing Shoreline Master Program for the Thurston Region was adopted in 1976 and was comprehensively updated in 1984 and 1990. TRPC maintains the regional shoreline master program for these jurisdictions.
Shorelines of the State
The Department of Ecology provides guidance on what areas fall under the jurisdiction of the Shoreline Management Act. Shorelines include:
- All marine waters, as well as tidelands
- Lakes that are 20 acres or greater in size
- Streams and rivers with a mean annual flow of greater than 20 cubic feet per second
- Wetlands associated with the waters above
- Upland area stretching 200 feet from the water’s edge
- Floodplains that extend more than 200 feet beyond the water’s edge
The cities have the option to regulate wetland buffers and other critical area buffers under the plan.
State Requires Updates
In 2003 the Washington State Department of Ecology (Ecology) adopted guidelines which required a new generation of shoreline planning. The guidelines required that all local jurisdictions in the state update their Shoreline Master Programs. Ecology sequenced the adoption of the SMPs to fit the seven year comprehensive plan update cycle required by the state Growth Management Act. The deadline for all local jurisdictions within the Thurston Region to update their SMPs was December 2011.
Benefits of Updating Shoreline Master Programs
- Planning for the future will help preserve our shoreline areas for future generations to enjoy.
- Preserving essential habitat and protecting water quality will keep local wildlife and fish healthy.
- Strategic development can enhance the local economy and increase the public enjoyment of our area’s water resources.
- Careful planning will ensure an adequate supply of land for water-dependent uses such as ports and marinas.
- Careful planning will lead to fewer impacts from natural hazards such as floods.
Coordinated Shoreline Master Program Updates
All of the seven jurisdictions listed above are in the process of updating their local SMP. They are all seeking to move from a single regional SMP to one which could be more closely integrated into the comprehensive plan and development regulations. The new SMP will contain policies, goals, and specific land use regulations. The SMP updates will need to ensure a balance in the uses of shorelines between reasonable development and economic activity, and preserving the public’s access and enjoyment of shorelines and water-related activities. They must also include policies that lead to no net loss of ecological function for shorelines and also restore degraded aquatic and marine habitat.
Lacey, Olympia, and Tumwater SMP Update
In 2007 the Cities of Lacey, Olympia, and Tumwater began to update their SMPs. It was a joint planning effort between the cities and Thurston County which was coordinated by Thurston Regional Planning Council (TRPC). It was funded by a grant from the WA Department of Ecology. The shoreline update package was complete in June 2009.
Lacey, Olympia, and Tumwater Shoreline Master Program Update
Thurston County SMP Update
In 2007 Thurston County began to update their SMP for all unincorporated areas. It is being funded by a grant from the WA Department of Ecology.
Thurston County Shoreline Master Program Update
Bucoda, Tenino, Yelm SMP Update
In 2009 the Town of Bucoda and the Cities of Tenino and Yelm began to update their SMPs. It is a joint planning effort which is being coordinated by Thurston Regional Planning Council. It is being funded by a grant from the WA Department of Ecology.
Bucoda, Tenino and Yelm Shoreline Master Program Update
1990 Regional Shoreline Master Program
Shoreline Master Program for the Thurston Region [pdf 3 MB]
1990 Regional Shoreline Master Program - Map
Shoreline Environment Designations (hosted by Thurston County Development Services) [pdf 1.3 MB]
- Thurston County
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