Skagit County SMP (Shoreline Master Program)

past project

April 27, 2023 - June 30, 2023

After several years and public input process, the County is getting closer to finalizing the Shoreline Master Program (SMP) update. As a coastal community, shorelines are your link between the land and the waters of the Salish Sea.  Washington Star adopted the Shoreline Management Act in 1972.  Skagit County’s current SMP was written in 1976.  Planning for the draft under review at this time started in 2010.

The health of our marine environment is tied to the health and condition of its shorelines. Orcas, salmon, eelgrass, forage fish, crabs, and clean water depend upon well-functioning shorelines.  The shorelines of Skagit County include 228 miles of marine shoreline, 600 miles of stream and 53 lakes (lakes over 20 acres in size).  Of these shorelines, 136 miles are Shorelines of Statewide Significance.  Furthermore, the Skagit River is the only remaining river in the lower 48 states where all 5 species of wild salmon still spawn.

The Department of Ecology is in the process of reviewing and providing further guidance to the county’s final draft SMP update. We need to urge Ecology to direct the county to make improvements that:

  • preserve vegetated shorelines
  • address sea level rise for new development
  • protect eelgrass from unnecessary shade
  • limit the conversion of soft shorelines to hard armor
  • and more.

Why A Strong SMP is Important:
Shoreline ecosystems are diverse, dynamic, fragile, and sensitive environments that serve as the nursery for many aquatic species in the Salish Sea. It is important to provide strong protection and management of these areas to maintain cooler water temperatures, reduce sediment and toxic runoff from flowing into lakes, streams and the sound, preserve ecological functions and values of our natural environment, as well as the protection for the public health, safety, and welfare of our community and shoreline properties. A SMP with strong shoreline safeguards are important in maintaining resilience, reducing negative impacts of climate change.

What is the Risk?
Without  a strong SMP, developments will occur along the shoreline buffers and riparian management zones, depleting habitat and further stressing the natural environment.  We could lose species such as endangered salmon and larger species such as southern resident orca which depend on king salmon for their diet.  Areas will be increasing susceptible to inundation from winter and spring flooding.  There will be less carbon sequestration and more carbon in the atmosphere, further heating the planet and fueling climate change. Without vegetated shoreline buffers, more toxic runoff will enter our streams and lakes.   Our environment, our economy and our health are at risk if we sacrifice the shorelines in favor of private development.

View the Skagit County SMP webpage here

Visit Washington State Department of Ecology’s information on Skagit County SMP review here

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