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SUMMARY AND FACT SHEET

WHY IS LEGISLATION NEEDED?

  • The long-term quality of our waters and survival of salmon in the Northwest is tenuous without protection and restoration of its habitat.
  • Salmon listings under the Endangered Species Act may "federalize" management of our land and natural resources.
  • Besides instream flows, streamside protection is one of the more critical components for protection and restoration of salmon habitat.
  • Of all sources of pollution, agricultural practices are the primary contributor to impairment of water quality.
  • Data from the Skagit shows that the largest loss of coho habitat has resulted from agricultural and flood control activities. Nearly 75% of the coho loss is due to hydromodification: diking, dredging, riparian loss, and rip rapping for agricultural lands.
  • Even though agricultural practices are the primary source of nonpoint source pollution in this state and throughout the nation they have been exempted from those mechanisms that provide either direct or indirect protection of salmon habitat and water quality:
    1. Shorelines Management Act
    2. State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA)
    3. Growth Management Act (GMA)
    4. Clean Water Act- nonpoint has been virtually unaffected even though it represents approximately 80% of the pollution problems
    5. Permanent exemptions from portions of Hydraulic Project Approval diking and drainage districts
  • Whereas, agricultural practices result in:
    1. Increased stream temperature due to lack of shade
    2. Fecal coliform due to cattle waste
    3. Increased sediment due to cattle access and runoff
    4. Introduction of pesticides and herbicides
    5. Loss of shellfish habitat due to increased sediment water quality pollution
    6. Loss of fish habitat due to loss of wood recruitment
    7. Loss of streambank stability due to loss of vegetation
    8. Habitat degradation due to diking, stream straightening, and rip-rapping
  • Legislation is necessary to better define a balance to sustain both our agriculture and natural resources.

 

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF THIS ACT?

  • Cleaner water for municipal drinking water, water recreation, and fisheries
  • Increased shellfish, salmon, trout, and steelhead populations
  • Enhanced wildlife habitat
  • Greater water supplies and longer irrigation season
  • Higher property values associated with clean streams and healthy streamside areas
  • Control of soil erosion

 

FINDINGS AND INTENT

  • Streamside buffers are essential for all waters of the state for the protection and restoration of salmonid and shellfish habitat, fisheries resources, and water quality.
  • A comprehensive system of laws and regulations is necessary to protect the public’s resources and to ensure personal responsibility is clearly defined.
  • Applies only to farm and agricultural land because these same type of laws are already defined for forest and urban land use practices.
  • Utilizes default standards but also provides flexibility for land owners through cooperative resource planning.
  • Voluntary and cooperative restoration and enhancement of streamside buffers is strongly encouraged.

 

ENFORCEMENT

  • Provided through a public-private partnership to ensure these laws are fully implemented.

 

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Copyright 1999 -  Center for Natural Resource Policy