Greetings – Today was a key cutoff day in the Legislature and I’m pleased to report my shoreline armoring bill was approved by the Senate this week by a vote of 32-16. This bill is a high priority for me and is key to the survival of our Puget Sound orcas and the overall health of our environment.
SB 6147 would require the state Department of Fish and Wildlife to consider less environmentally disruptive alternatives when property owners look to repair or replace seawalls and bulkheads.
When “hard armoring” bulkheads and seawalls are installed, the natural process of beach and sand erosion is disrupted. Bulkheads destroy near-shore habitats so that forage fish and juvenile salmon don’t have a place to spawn or hide from bigger fish. That is leading to fewer salmon, which results in orca starvation.
Nearly one-third of Puget Sound’s shorelines are armored with structures like bulkheads and seawalls. A lack of adequate salmon population has been identified as one of the factors jeopardizing the Puget Sound’s Southern Resident Orca population.
Last year the Legislature took a good step in the right direction by limiting the expansion of these bulkheads. This bill will take those efforts a step further in protecting salmon habitats and our orca population.
My bill requires the state Department of Fish and Wildlife to consider the least environmentally disruptive alternatives when issuing a permit to repair or replace bulkheads. Their current practice is to simply permit new and destructive bulkhead replacements without looking at whether erosion protection can be achieved in a way that doesn’t destroy habitat.
This is a common-sense solution to a serious problem. There are no mandates. Property owners won’t be forced into alternatives they don’t want. But as these bulkheads and seawalls need to be repaired or replaced, property owners should implement alternative options that protect their property with less disruption to the environment.
SB 6147 had a public hearing earlier this session in the Senate Agriculture, Water, Natural Resources & Parks Committee. You can watch my testimony in that hearing by clicking here.
SB 6147 now goes to the House of Representatives where I’ll be working to get the bill approved by the House and signed by the governor.
Thank you for the opportunity to be your voice in the state Senate. As always, please share any questions, comments, and concerns you may have about bills under consideration in the Legislature. I welcome your feedback.
Senator Jesse Salomon
32nd Legislative District