According to an article in the Kitsap Sun, the Puget Sound Partnership is preparing several requests for the coming legislative session. One of them is a shoreline moratorium that would halt construction of bulkheads and docks in “sensitive areas” until new rules are approved.
Because of the importance of “feeder bluffs,” which create gravel beaches, as well as spawning areas for small forage fish, one proposal would halt shoreline construction in the vicinity of these areas. Degradation could be reduced until new rules and incentives are in place.
State Rep. Christine Rolfes, D-Bainbridge Island, cited her city’s legal defeat over a shoreline moratorium and recommended against such temporary measures. What may be needed instead, she said, is better enforcement of existing rules through permits issued by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Josh Baldi of the Washington Department of Ecology said his agency has not yet decided whether to support the idea. Existing shoreline rules require “no net loss” of ecological function, he said. If that’s not happening now, is a moratorium the solution?
Kathy Fletcher of People for Puget Sound also questioned the approach. “If bulkhead armoring and overwater structures shouldn’t be built, then a moratorium adds a period of (unnecessary) agony and contentiousness,” she said.
But David Trout of the Nisqually Tribe argued that something needs to be done now, because docks and piers are being built at a rapid pace to get ahead of new shoreline regulations being formulated by local governments.
One problem that the Partnership will have to overcome it a recent analysis of data used by Kitsap County and the City of Bainbridge Island to justify stricter regulation of bulkheads and docks. The analysis by island resident Dr. Don Flora shows that harm from nearshore development is almost zero.
If the Partnership and others concerned about the health of Puget Sound were truly interested in solutions, one wonders why they don’t consider something more practical. They say that “feeder bluffs” create gravel beaches and spawning areas for small forage fish, and that that justifies banning bulkheads and docks.
Why not take some of the Partnership’s $500 million budget and fund mitigation programs to add sand and gravel to beaches? This would eliminate the need for erosion of personal property and serve the perceived needs of the fishes.
If there is truly a public interest in their cause, don’t the state and federal constitutions say the public should pay?