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County seeks help with shoreline program

Clallam County's three-year Shoreline Master Program update relies heavily on public participation from start to finish.

Cathy Lear, a habitat biologist with the county, said it has held three community forums in different locations to talk about the update and will continue to hold forums throughout the process.

She met with Sequim community members at the Dungeness River Audubon Center on July 14.

The Shoreline Master Program has been in effect for more than 40 years with nine revisions, the last occurring in 1992. The forum presentations list the significance of the program as protecting water quality, protecting lives and property from floods, protecting habitat for fish and wildlife, and promoting recreational opportunities.

In the program, hundreds of miles of shoreline on rivers, lakes and marine waters are evaluated to determine what areas are appropriate to reserve for water-oriented uses, what should be promoted for public access, what areas are good candidates for restoration and preservation, and where it is important to help local governments avoid or lessen environmental damages from development.

Lear said the county has a 20-page public participation strategy, adopted in March, with specific guidelines and goals for the project.

"There are a lot of very knowledgeable people who live here and to make the best decision on how to use our shorelines in the future we need to be able to count on them," Lear said.

In addition to the forums, the county will work with watershed councils, salmon recovery councils, planning commissions and other stakeholders and knowledgeable groups.

"We still have to have a countywide view but in everyone's area there are specific issues," she said.

In Sequim, flooding on the Dungeness River is a particularly important issue that will be addressed by the program update as well as shellfish harvesting, she said.

Input on the update as a whole will be accepted until its completion in 2010.

The county will need help from the public to look at current shoreline designations and determine if that is what they're really being used for, she said.

For more information on the update and public participation, call Lear at 417-2361 or go to www.clallam.net/realestate/html/shoreline_management.htm.

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