PACIFIC COUNTY — A new program to manage around 1,200 miles of lake, river and marine shorelines within Pacific County opened for public comment through the Washington Department of Ecology for 30 days beginning Jan. 23.

Comments will help Ecology decide whether to approve the county’s update as written or request changes, the agency said in a press release last week.

Local shoreline programs protect natural resources for future generations, provide for public access to public waters and shores, and plan for shoreline uses and development, the agency said. Once approved, they become part of the state’s overall Shoreline Master Program as outlined in the Shoreline Management Act.

Pacific County’s comprehensive update will completely replace the county’s original shoreline master program that was adopted in 1975 and last amended in 2000. The plan contains locally tailored policies and provisions to improve habitat protection and encourage restoration of shorelines, including those on the Pacific Ocean, Willapa Bay, Columbia River and numerous other streams, rivers and lakes.

Some features of Pacific County’s shoreline program include:

• Establishing a variety of unique shoreline environment designations for Willapa Bay and the Pacific Ocean that will guide their management into the future;

• Supporting current economic activity, including shipping, marinas, aquaculture and fishing;

• Prioritizing the protection and maintenance of surface and groundwater quantity and quality;

• Use of Highest Astronomical Tide from which to measure buffers along the east side of the Long Beach Peninsula in order to protect and restore critical areas most at risk;

• Protection of coastal dunes, which are valuable in protecting inland areas from flooding and for open space.

Comments will be accepted through 5 p.m. Feb. 22, and should be addressed to Ecology’s Kim Van Zwalenburg. Here’s how to submit comments:

Mail: Southwest Regional Office, PO Box 47775, Olympia, WA 98504-7775

Email: kim.vanzwalenburg@ecy.wa.gov

Phone: 360-407-6520

Pacific County’s new Shoreline Master Program can be found online: tinyurl.com/Pacific-County-Shorelines. Paper copies are available at Ecology’s Southwest Regional Office in Lacey, or at either of the two Pacific County offices: 300 Memorial Drive, South Bend, or 7013 Sandridge Road, Long Beach.

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