Over twenty miles of shoreline will be protected for salmon with 100-foot buffers in Pierce County as a result of a legal challenge to the county’s critical areas ordinance. The new ordinance that protects salmon habitat along the Puget Sound shoreline in Pierce County was approved today by the Central Puget Sound Growth Management Hearings Board. The salmon protections were added after People for Puget Sound and Citizens for a Healthy Bay, represented by Earthjustice, successfully challenged Pierce County’s failure to include those protections in its previous ordinance.
“We all must do our part to protect and restore Puget Sound,” said Naki Stevens, Director of Programs at People for Puget Sound. “This case should spur other cities and counties to do the right thing for salmon and water quality.”
Pierce County’s new ordinance, No. 2005-80s, amends various provisions of Pierce County Code to designate and protect Marine Shoreline Critical Salmon Habitat, a new category of shorelines protected by 100 foot buffers. Buffers are shoreline areas, measured landward from the high water mark, where limited development activity is allowed. Over twenty miles of shoreline will be protected with the new Marine Shoreline Critical Salmon Habitat designation.
The Board ordered Pierce County last July to draft a new ordinance that complied with the Growth Management Act after the conservation groups challenged the county’s first ordinance because it failed to protect important salmon habitat.
“The best science tells us that buffers along Puget Sound’s marine shorelines will help protect the salmon that inhabit our waters,” said Leslie Ann Rose, the Senior Policy Analyst at Citizens for a Healthy Bay. “Pierce County’s new ordinance is a step in the right direction to keep healthy salmon populations here.”
Citizens for a Healthy Bay and People for Puget Sound will continue to track shoreline critical areas ordinances around Puget Sound. Washington’s Growth Management Act requires counties and cities to enact critical areas ordinances that designate and protect important natural areas including wetlands, and fish and wildlife habitat conservation areas.