Kitsap shorelines plan emerging from the shadows.

After 20 months of discussions, Kitsap County’s new shorelines plan is coming together rapidly, with new maps to guide future development activities along the shorelines. Shoreline buffers were recently proposed, and now planners are putting the finishing touches on a description of what activities and structures could be allowed in different areas.

By going to the new maps, shoreline property owners can view proposed environmental “designations” for their property, said Dave Greetham, who is leading the effort to update the county’s Shorelines Master Program. The designations are key to knowing what types of development are allowed and how far back from shore one can build.

— Christopher Dunagan, Kitsap Sun, 12/3/11

The Kitsap Alliance communications team has made links to the map and the environmental designation descriptions available to you below. You can use them to determine which environmental designation will be applied to your home and land.

Kitsap County’s central planners have produced a map that assigns environmental designations to every property on the shoreline. Start by finding your property on the map (click here to download a PDF copy). The map includes a helpful color key and two summary tables (shown below).

Kitsap County Shoreline Designations

The following pie charts show how much of the Kitsap County shoreline will assigned to each of the environmental designations. If you’re wondering why your existing home has been given a specific designation, contact David Gretham, Environmental Planner / SMP Update Project Coordinator, Kitsap County Department of Community Development, via email.

The following are the purpose statements for each of these designations:

Shoreline Environment Designations Summary 

The Shoreline Management Act (SMA) Guidelines [WAC 173-26-211(2)(a)] require local shoreline master programs (SMPs) to “classify shoreline areas into specific environment designations. This classification system shall be based on the existing use pattern, the biological and physical character of the shoreline, and the goals and aspirations of the community as expressed through comprehensive plans” as well as the criteria in WAC 173-26-211.


To preserve and protect those shoreline areas that are relatively free of human influence or which are minimally degraded shoreline functions intolerant of human use. In order to maintain ecological processes and functions, restrictions on the intensities and types of uses permitted in such areas are required. Restoration of degraded shoreline should be planned within this environment.

Rural Conservancy: 

To protect ecological functions, conserve existing natural resources and valuable historic and cultural areas in order to provide for sustained resource use, achieve natural floodplain processes, and provide recreational opportunities. [To accommodate residential uses, but subject to environmental limitations, such as properties that include or adjacent to steep banks, feeder bluffs, or flood plains or other flood-prone areas.]

Urban Conservancy: 

To protect and restore ecological functions of open space, floodplain and other sensitive lands where they exist in urban and developed settings, while allowing a variety of compatible uses.

Shoreline Residential: 

To accommodate residential development and appurtenant structures which are consistent with this Program [unless further development would be restricted by sensitive developments or safety]. An additional purpose is to provide appropriate [public access and recreational uses.]


To provide for high-intensity water-oriented commercial, transportation, and industrial uses [in the UGA or LAMIRD] while protecting existing ecological functions in areas that have been previously degraded.


The purpose of the “Aquatic” environment is to protect, restore, and manage the unique characteristics and resources of the areas waterward of the ordinary high water mark.

Please refer to the Draft Chapter 3, Shoreline Jurisdiction and Environment Designations, (download PDF copy) for the complete purpose statement, selection criteria and management policies for each Shoreline Environment Designation. 


One response to “Kitsap shorelines plan emerging from the shadows.

  1. Thank you for posting Chris Dunagan’s article so quickly. Timely news is greatly appreciated.

    Thanks to all the Task Force members and county planner Dave Greetham. A special thanks to Bob Benze, Environmental Engineer, for keeping “real environmental facts” on the table. Kitsap Alliance has been engaged with the Task Force protecting your property rights since the begining standing for reasonable and common sense solutions. We are not done with the SMP yet and things still may change but Kitsap Alliance will continue to be a voice for shoreline owners till the conclusion.

    Jackie Rossworn, Executive Director
    Kitsap Alliance

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