Washington's Coastal Zone Management Program


Title: Washington's Coastal Zone Management Program
Publication Date:
February 01, 2001
Document Number: 00-06-029
Pages: 166

Document Access

Website: External Link
Attachment: Access File
(896 KB)


Washington State Department of Ecology (2001). Washington's Coastal Zone Management Program. Report by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). pp 166.

This report is called the “Washington Coastal Zone Management Program Document.” This document explains Washington’s coastal zone management program and how the Department of Ecology administers the program. Basically, Washington’s program consists of two parts: 1) the six state laws, or “authorities” and their implementing regulations that Washington uses to manage activities in the coastal zone; and 2) the tasks that Ecology staff perform in accordance with the Coastal Zone Management grant in furtherance of the purposes of the Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA).


Washington manages its coastal zone through a partnership with the federal government - a partnership expressed in the federal Coastal Zone Management Act. Passed in 1972, the Act calls for the “effective management, beneficial use, protection, and development” of the nation’s coastal zone and promotes active state involvement in achieving those goals.


As a means to reach those goals, the Coastal Zone Management Act requires participating coastal states to develop management programs that demonstrate how states carry out their obligations and responsibilities in managing their coastal areas. Upon federal approval of a state’s coastal zone management program, the state benefits by becoming eligible for federal coastal zone grants. A state’s grant allocation is based on the total number of shoreline miles and shoreline population density within the state’s jurisdiction.


Besides receiving federal funds, another benefit of having an approved program is the review authority that states have over certain federal agency actions. That authority allows the states to determine whether federal projects; or activities requiring federal licenses or permits; or those using federal funding are consistent with the state’s coastal program. Commonly referred to as “federal consistency,” this authority can enhance a state’s ability to manage its coastal zone in accordance with its particular goals and objectives.


Upon passage of the state Shoreline Management Act in 1971, the Washington State Department of Ecology became the lead agency for developing a comprehensive blueprint for managing the state’s shorelines. Ecology’s Shorelands and Environmental Assistance Program works with local governments and others to flesh out plans aimed at maintaining and improving shoreline quality, while at the same time allowing for reasonable and appropriate shoreline uses.


Because the federal Coastal Zone Management Act and the state Shoreline Management Act meshed so well, the Department of Ecology was best-suited to house Washington’s Coastal Zone Management Program. In 1976, Washington became the first state in the Nation to have a federally approved coastal zone management program. Since that time, Washington has benefited from annual coastal zone grants of $1.5 to $2.9 million and has served as an example of a cooperative federal-state partnership.


This version of Washington’s Coastal Zone Management Program (WCZMP) document (or “program document”) replaces the 1976 document (the “orange book”) and the 1979 Amendments (the “green book”). It finalizes interim draft documents submitted by Ecology in 1995 and 1999. This rendition replaces all those earlier documents but makes no substantial changes to Washington’s coastal program. Rather, this final version updates and refines the original document to reflect changes made over the past quarter century.


Washington’s program document is organized to first acquaint the reader with the fundamentals of the CZMA. In Chapter 1, you will find the important language of the CZMA that launched a nationwide effort to protect the nation’s valuable and sensitive coastal areas.


To evoke a sense of “place,” Chapter 2 thoroughly describes Washington’s coastal zone and the resources found within its boundaries. The coastal zone is comprised of the fifteen coastal counties that border on the Pacific Ocean and/or the Puget Sound. Organizationally, the document divides the coastal zone into two regions: the Pacific Ocean Coast and the Puget Sound Basin and their associated upland or watershed areas. The coastal zone’s geography, geology, and climate are generally described. The Ecosystems and Living Resources section discusses the different habitat types that are found in the coastal zone, including wetlands, intertidal areas, ocean waters, riverine areas, forests, and mountains.


Chapter 2 also includes a description of ten areas in the coastal zone that are Areas of Particular Concern - so called because they meet certain criteria spelled out in the CZMA that guide states in designating such areas. Information on other specially designated areas follows the discussion of the Areas of Particular Concern.


Chapter 3 is a brief description of the Indian tribes of the Pacific Northwest and the role they play in Washington’s economy. Chapter 4 discusses the resource-based industries that contribute to the coastal zone economy followed by a summary of the impacts resulting from those activities.


Chapter 5 provides a background of the operations of the Coastal Zone Management Program within Ecology’s Shorelands and Environmental Assistance Program. A description of the CZMP’s “Authorities” outlines the state laws that are used to manage the state’s land and water uses. Those authorities are: the Shoreline Management Act; the State Environmental Policy Act; the Clean Water Act; the Clean Air Act; the Ocean Resources Management Act; and the Energy Facilities - Site Location Act (commonly referred to as the Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council or EFSEC). Within these authorities and their implementing regulations are the enforceable policies.


Chapter 5 also describes how Washington complies with the CZMA and includes some of the important activities carried out 
with coastal zone funding. The “federal consistency” process is discussed here. Unique to coastal zone management, the 
federal consistency process is the network for permits, public notice, and decision-making through which federal actions 
are demonstrated to be consistent with the state’s enforceable policies. Chapter 5 also explains the state’s procedures 
that must be followed in order to be consistent with Washington’s Coastal Zone Management Program.

Also included are the “Protecting Coastal Water Quality” (Section 6217) and “Coastal Zone Enhancement” (Section 309) 
grant programs. Chapter 5 contains a brief description of some important state laws and programs that complement the 
implementation of the CZMP’s authorities and enforceable policies. These include the Growth Management Act, the 
Hydraulics Project Approval, the Puget Sound Plan, the Watershed Planning Act, and several others.

Chapter 5 also contains a description of the local government grants available through the Coastal Zone Management Act. In recent years, Washington has passed nearly 20% of its federal coastal zone grant funds directly to local governments for a variety of projects.


The appendices that follow contain contact information, a glossary, a listing and summary of each program authority, the 
national requirements of the CZMA, and a list of federal programs subject to consistency review.
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