It’s been a long time coming, but the Washington Department of Ecology recently approved Grays Harbor’s Shoreline Master Program (SMP) comprehensive update resulting in a coastal victory for all who enjoy shoreline access in this important recreational and ecological area. Grays Harbor’s updated SMP is effective Aug. 11, 2020, 14 days after Ecology provided written notice to the county that their SMP was approved. In Washington State, any county or city that has a shoreline is required by state law to develop a plan to manage those shorelines in order to preserve ecological functions, offer public access, and ensure businesses that require water access aren’t squeezed out. Learn more about our engagement on this important effort here.

Vulnerable infrastructure. Photo by Gus Gates, aerial support provided by LightHawk.

Involvement by the Surfrider Foundation Washington Chapters occured over the past 7 years and was led by former Washington Coast Program Manager Casey Dennehy. Surfrider worked with many partners on this effort including the Friends of Grays Harbor, Futurewise, and The Nature Conservancy. Surfrider was also very involved in the effort to update the Pacific County SMP as well, more on that here and here.

Although he’s moved on, we appreciate all of the hard work over many years on this effort by former Washington Surfrider staffer Casey Dennehy.

The Grays Harbor SMP addresses uses and development along over 1,200 miles of fresh and salt water shorelines, including the Pacific Ocean and Grays Harbor, numerous rivers and creeks including the Chehalis, Hoquiam, and Satsop rivers, and six lakes. The comprehensive update replaces the existing program and contains locally-tailored shoreline policies and regulations, prioritizes water-oriented uses and development; supports restoration actions consistent with the Shoreline Restoration Plan; and incorporates critical area regulations to ensure the protection of sensitive areas within shoreline jurisdiction. More info here.