New ‘civil enforcement’ proposed for violations of hydraulic permits -Watching our Water Ways


There is a lot going on behind these bills. This article gets to the heart of the issue that we find all the time, people pass laws but then we get weak enforcement. Then when a law like this comes along to beef up enforcement, our legislators balk at passing it. In the meantime, shoreline landowners who are scofflaws are destroying the shoreline. In our county this happens a lot, I have been told the stories by the landowners living next door to some of these scofflaws and though they go to our County Department of Community Development nothing gets done to change behaviors.

As a member of the board of Sound Action, the NGO that has monitored and challenged HPAs for the last five years, it is worth saying that we support this bill. We believe it will lead to greater protections for the near shore and less likelihood of scofflaws getting away with destruction.

Dunagan points out an important issue that could be holding up the bill in the Senate:

Tom Davis of the Washington Farm Bureau advised legislators to be cautious when expanding the authority of Fish and Wildlife.

“The stop-work order could be especially harmful to farmers who have a very short time to do work on their land,” he said, adding that the bill might be acceptable with some changes, including limits for when stop-work orders could be issued.

Other opponents include the Washington Association of Counties, which has had a contentious relationship with Fish and Wildlife over jurisdiction. Counties have generally opposed state requirements to obtain HPAs for work on roads and bridges that may be some distance from the water. In December, the Washington State Supreme Court ruled that HPAs can be required for any project that can affect the waters.

 

Here’s the lead to the story:

Concerns about the endangered Southern Resident killer whales seems to be spurring legislative support for new enforcement tools that could be used to protect shoreline habitat. Bills in both the state House and Senate would allow stop-work orders to be issued by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife when shoreline construction is done without permits or exceeds permit conditions. If passed, the law would require that Fish and Wildlife officials first work with contractors and property owners to achieve “voluntary compliance.” Working with property owners is the key, stressed Jeff Davis, deputy director of Fish and Wildlife in charge of habitat protection. Under current law, property owners who commit serious permit violations are charged with criminal misdemeanors. That’s neither good for the agency nor for the property owner, who may end up battling each other in court, said Davis, who once worked as a Fish and Wildlife habitat biologist in Kitsap County. Chris Dunagan reports. (Watching Our Water Ways)

Read the whole story here. It’s a good overview.

New ‘civil enforcement’ proposed for violations of hydraulic permits

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