Shoreline Management

Whatcom County's shorelines are among the most valuable of this state’s natural resources. Shoreline ecosystems are diverse, dynamic, fragile, and sensitive environments. Protection and management of these areas is important to the preservation of ecological functions and values of our natural environment, as well as the protection of the public health, safety and welfare of our community.

Unregulated or inappropriate development on or near shorelines can result in impacts that threaten the public welfare and shoreline resources, including:
  • Erosion
  • Flooding
  • Habitat Loss
  • Loss of Property
  • Pollution
  • Sedimentation
The State Legislature passed the Washington State Shoreline Management Act (SMA) in June 1971. The SMA was overwhelmingly passed by public initiative in 1972. Under the SMA, each county and city was required to prepare a shoreline “master program” in accordance with the shoreline guidelines issued by the State Department of Ecology in 1972.

Under the provisions of the SMA, all development within shorelines of the state is required to comply with the provisions of local shoreline master programs.