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State Agency Action Overview

Summary of State Actions to Support Local Progress

This page provides an overview of the actions Washington is taking to support adaptation efforts at the local level. Washington’s Strategy includes goals focused on supporting local action through increased funding and partnerships, improved data, tools, and resources to help guide decisionmaking, and robust communications and outreach.

Floodplain Management Assistance

To support better floodplain management practices at the local level, the Department of Ecology (Ecology) is offering a variety of incentives for watershed restoration, including grants through the Floodplains by Design Program, which is a local-state-federal-private partnership that aims to strengthen integrated floodplain management in the state. Through Floodplains by Design, the state works with communities to build their own locally-driven approach to integrated floodplain management that considers future effects of climate change on the range of interests at stake (e.g., agriculture, fisheries, flood risk reduction). The “Floodplains for the Future” initiative in the Puyallup River Watershed is one example of a Floodplains by Design partnership that aims to restore river connections to balance competing interests in flood protection, and agricultural, recreational, and cultural uses of the land and water resources.

Coastal Assistance and Tools

Ecology has also improved resources and assistance available to local governments for coastal and shoreline planning. For example, Ecology hosted sea-level rise workshops in 2012 to present the findings of a recent National Academy of Sciences study about sea-level rise along the coast of Washington and to foster discussion about how the findings can be used, what communities can do to adapt to sea-level rise, and what future actions may be needed. In 2015-2017, the Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) adopted several new rules implementing the state’s Shoreline Management Act. Of note, the regulations now encourage local governments “to consult department guidance for applicable new information on emerging topics such as sea level rise” in review of their local Shoreline Master Programs (WAC 173-26-090; local land-use policies and regulations relating to shoreline areas that are required to be developed by the state’s Shoreline Management Act, which fulfills part of the state’s implementation of federal CZMA requirements). Ecology revised its guidance, “Addressing sea-level rise in Shoreline Master Programs” in December 2017 to support local governments in this effort. Ecology’s Coastal Atlas provides maps of floodplains, coastal maps (with sea-level rise layers), and shoreline photos to assist with coastal and shoreline resource planning and management.

Ecology has also joined with other state agencies, Washington Sea Grant, and other nonprofit, university, local, and federal partners to create the Washington Coastal Hazards Resilience Network. With funding from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the network is conducting a Washington Coastal Resilience Project (WCRP), a three-year effort to improve localized coastal risk projections, provide guidance for land use planners, and develop other tools to help coastal communities better prepare for sea-level rise and other coastal hazards. WCRP also involves development of new outreach and training materials that will be incorporated into Washington’s Coastal Training Program, a state-federal partnership providing targeted training for coastal managers.

Forestry Assistance

Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has also engaged forest landowners through technical assistance and piloting innovative incentive approaches to forest and watershed preservation. For example, DNR held hands-on forest health workshops in September and November 2013 to give landowners hands-on experience identifying and measuring factors that affect a forest's health. Landowners also learned how to manage their own forests for resistance to insects and diseases. Additionally, pursuant to legislation passed in 2010 directing DNR to explore the creation of ecosystem service markets, DNR completed a demonstration project and report evaluating the feasibility of developing forest watershed ecosystem services markets. Transactions in such markets would involve forest landowners as sellers of forest ecosystem services, and drinking water utilities, organizations with an interest in salmon habitat quality, and others as potential buyers.

The state has also provided assistance to communities to support urban forestry. Washington's 2012 Jobs Now Act (S.B. 5127) established funding (sections 522, 526) for the Urban Forestry Restoration Project, which aimed to help enhance the effectiveness of urban forests in managing stormwater and improving water quality. Local grant recipients received support from from the Washington Conservation Corps or Puget SoundCorps to assist with urban forestry activities, such as control of invasive plants, planting of native vegetation, pruning young trees, and other activities to benefit the health of the urban forest. The project continued for five years but was halted prior to the 2017-2018 grant year due to lack of funding.


(Research last updated: July 23, 2018).


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