The Department of Ecology is currently updating the rules that implement the Shoreline Management Act (SMA), including the Shoreline Master Program Guidelines (WAC 173-26).[i] Part of Ecology’s rulemaking scope[ii] is to consider including a new section on planning for sea level rise.
On April 1st, Ecology hosted a workshop bringing together key technical experts and select shoreline planners who have been working on addressing sea level rise in Washington. The workshop sought to:
· Clarify the intent and parameters of Ecology’s rulemaking process;
· Understand the state of the science and upcoming research that will help inform community planning for sea level rise;
· Identify lessons learned from current planning; and
· Gather ideas for changes to Shoreline Master Program Guidelines and areas to develop supporting implementation guidance.
The day began with a presentation from Ian Miller on the current state of science around sea level rise projections and what information we can expect to become available in the near future. Next, a panel of local government staff presented on their planning efforts to address sea level rise. In the afternoon, attendees were divided into groups to discuss their thoughts on what, if anything, is needed from Ecology to better assist local governments in addressing sea level rise impacts. These discussions focused on potential rule language, possible frameworks, and types of implementation support and planning guidance.
Attendees enthusiastically engaged about the aforementioned topics, generating good conversation. While potential rule language could highlight the importance of sea level rise consideration in planning, there was no clarity about exactly what type of language would be helpful or how. Conversation focused more on an expressed need for improved guidance and more technical assistance to overcome some of the challenges with sea level rise planning and implementation, such as managing risk.
The planning team at Ecology views the event as a success. Input from the workshop is extremely valuable to how we shape a more comprehensive approach to better assist communities with sea level rise planning. As Ecology considers appropriate next steps for our program, we are always available for additional questions, ideas, and/or technical assistance. Please feel free to contact Bobbak Talebi at any time.
This workshop also highlighted the importance of local government involvement in the resilience discussion. Attendees were all invited to stay engaged with the conversation by joining the CHRN. Please remember that the CHRN is an inclusive network and you are encouraged to join if you are not already a member! Please direct membership requests to Bobbak Talebi as well.
[i] RCW 90.58.
[ii] Scope as stated in CR-101 filing. http://www.ecy.wa.gov/laws-rules/SMA2015/d1506.pdf
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