County to host shoreline management workshop

King County will host a workshop from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. this Saturday at the Land Trust Building to discuss marine shoreline ecology and management with waterfront property owners and the general public.

The workshop is planned to coincide with the release of a county shoreline assessment later this month evaluating the extent of unpermitted armoring work completed by homeowners in the last several years, which likely poses environmental hazards.

In all, 92 miles of shoreline were surveyed by the county for the new report, following a similar evaluation completed in 2014. As the last findings of the new study are compiled, early results indicate that additional shoreline armoring has been built that was not reviewed or approved for construction, including on Vashon.

“We’ve actually seen more new armoring go in than what we’ve been able to pull out,” said Kollin Higgins of the Water and Land Resources Division and author of the report. “As of May of this year, we had basically, across the whole central Puget Sound in King County, another 350 feet of armoring more than what we had removed over the last four years.”

Higgins said that the purpose of the county’s survey was to measure the success of efforts to recover salmon, which rely on habitat that is paralyzed by the impacts of armoring. The results of the new survey were shared with the Department of Permitting and Environmental Review (DPER) as well as the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to determine where armoring has since been constructed or altered and whether those projects were reviewed by the agencies before they were completed.

“Most of the changes we see are repairs to existing bulkheads that people had,” said Higgins. “Some of the bulkhead repairs added new rock and features to the existing bulkhead. Some of the repairs have an effect that’s rather negative, and some are really negligible and extremely minimal.”

At the workshop, those in attendance will learn about the permit application process as well as steps that property owners can take to better stabilize their shorelines.

“It’s an opportunity for people to learn more about why shoreline restoration is so important,” said Higgins, emphasizing the connection between chinook recovery and the southern resident orcas. “A lot of people don’t know their place in that.”

Roughly 100 property owners on Vashon-Maury will or have been notified that modifications made to their shoreline may have required a permit and will need to be brought into compliance, according to Doug Williams, spokesman for the King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks.

“We’re at the front end of this, to encourage this understanding of the issue and learning about marine shoreline stewardship,” he said.

More information about the workshop, “Where the Water Begins,” is available online at bit.ly/2QaTVUx.

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