Monday, August 4, 2014

[UPDATE: New comment deadline Sept. 15] State Allows Limited Opportunity For Public Input On Push For Major Changes In Nearshore Protection Code

NEWS RELEASE/For Immediate Use
August 4, 2014
Contact: Amy Carey, Sound Action, (206) 745-2441

State Allows Limited Opportunity For Public Input
On Push For Major Changes In Nearshore Protection Code

The Washington state Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and the state Fish and Wildlife Commission are moving forward with plans for major revisions to the only state law specifically protecting critical nearshore habitats and at-risk fish species. The department and commission have allowed for a minimal public comment period and a single, middle-of-summer, late Friday afternoon public hearing in Olympia on August 8.

The state Hydraulic Code is intended to protect fish and fish habitat from in-water development impacts of bulkheads, groins, piers and marinas and was established to ensure no net-loss of the state’s critical nearshore habitats.

The nearshore environment in Puget Sound is where forage fish such as herring, surf smelt and sand lance spawn and where juvenile Chinook salmon grow. The decline in Puget Sound populations of killer whales, sea birds and salmon has been traced to disruptions in the prey-predator balance and loss of spawning and rearing habitats in the nearshore.

The state has proposed a full overhaul of the code guiding the application of this law and recently released approximately 400 pages of documents, including 150 pages of proposed rule language, and provided only a 14-day formal comment period with an additional 15 days for informal comment acceptance. A related 150-page draft Environmental Impact Statement was also released with only 30 days for a public comment period to run concurrently with the rule proposal. See here for the Hydraulic Code revision and the dEIS.

“The Hydraulic Code is the state’s primary tool for Puget Sound habitat protection and many of the revisions lead to a weakening, not a strengthening, of protections,” said Amy Carey, executive director of Sound Action. “The documentation and accompanying environmental impact statement are voluminous. Important regulations like these deserve much, much more time for public review and comment than the minimal time period and one hearing opportunity the department has provided.”

Sound Action’s draft comments regarding the code changes are found at “Preliminary Comments on Hydraulic Code Proposed Rulemaking” (pdf)

Carey added that Sound Action and other conservation groups had requested that WDFW extend the comment period beyond the August 15 deadline another 30 days and to provide additional public hearing opportunities in Puget Sound. The request, according to Carey, was rejected by the department.

# # #

Sound Action: Turning The Tide For Puget Sound



  1. I guess a big thanks to Sound Action for taking this on. I have no idea how a member of the public, other than one who has followed the Hydraulic Code a lot, could ever read and comment on all the stuff, especially in just a few days/weeks.

    It continues to seem to me that the Puget Sound Partnership staff organization should include a strong function for making things like this known, in "popular" terms. So interested public could take a position and make it known.

    PS - I had the good fortune to be at Lime Kiln Park on Friday August 1 and enjoyed watching and photo-ing the Sea Otter - the fellow put on quite a show!

  2. The Puget Sound Partnership is a state agency. It'snot clear if they're into proding other state agencies into doing the right thing.

    1. Sadly, apparently not. We've had a Puget Sound Water Quality Authority with no authority, a Puget Sound Action Team with no action, and now a Puget Sound Partnership which is a silent partnership.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.