Tulalip Tribes environmental planner Julia Gold described the process of developing a stormwater management plan.
The state’s Shoreline Master Program (first created in the 1970s) aims to prevent the inherent harm from uncoordinated and piecemeal development of the state’s shorelines.
It had a broad policy directive, putting emphasis on the environment:
- Protect water quality.
- Give preference to projects that depend on proximity to the shoreline.
- Preserve and enhance public access.
The Tulalip Tribes is developing its own shoreline plan, which requires gathering information, identifying key issues and proposing a zone that characterizes the shoreline environment.
Some of the key issues identified so far include:
- Bulkheads starve beaches of sediment.
- Slide prone areas threaten cliff top homes.
- Smaller building setbacks create a greater need for armoring.
- Vegetation is critical to forage fish.
The tribe is identifying water dependent uses, such as fishing in Tulalip Bay, so it can plan for them and manage them.
The proposed shoreline zone will include uplands, tidelands and open water. The tribe has mapped the tidelands and proposed a buffer.
The regulatory approach includes designating land use, limiting parcel size, protecting critical areas, building setbacks and limiting impervious surfaces.
There is great potential for outreach and education at Tulalip. The tribe should connect with homeowners and associations, people living along the beach, to educate them about stormwater runoff, retention, infiltration and treatment. It should teach about poisons, hold community events such as beach cleanups and planting. Also, teach kids and get them out on field trips.
The tribe already effectively manages and restores habitat, by identifying, prioritizing and funding restoration. It also maps and controls invasives, such as spartina.
The challenge is to communicate to the community why action is needed, and to explain why the tribe needs to set shoreline policy. It’s important to involve the community in the planning process.