WALLA WALLA, Wash. –The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Walla Walla District will begin accepting applications on July 1 for new private “individual dock” permits on the McNary reservoir shoreline, also known as Lake Wallula, per an updated 2012 McNary Shoreline Management Plan. Acceptance of new individual dock permit applications in July follows the Corps’ effort to first accept new private “community dock” permit applications beginning in March of this year per public input on how to best implement the plan. Community dock permit applications are for larger docks that serve two to four households along the shoreline.
Applications for new private docks, both community and now individual docks, will be accepted during the month of July. In addition to new docks permit applications, the Corps continues to work with existing dock owners to process applications for permit renewals, which must be completed by Aug. 1. In an effort to continue working with the public on the plan’s implementation, the Corps recently conducted a random survey of existing dock owners and received positive feedback on renewals implementation to date.
The McNary Shoreline Management plan provides guidance for managing the McNary reservoir shoreline stretching from McNary Lock and Dam near Umatilla, Ore., to the Tri-Cities in Washington in order to provide for private recreation and protect endangered fish and habitat. It takes a programmatic approach to address all private docks on the public shoreline at one time, thus sparing individual private dock owners or adjacent private property owners the effort and expense of conducting individual environmental and real estate reviews.
The updated shoreline plan allows for a limited number of new private community or individual docks on the shoreline, but only in “Limited Development Areas.” Limited Development Areas are designated areas where private shoreline facilities or vegetation management activities may be allowed when consistent with the shoreline plan and cleared for environmental and cultural resources issues by Corps personnel prior to any development.
Permit applicants must own property adjacent to that shoreline. Other requirements apply. For example, approved new docks must be constructed according to 2012 plan design criteria within four (4) annual winter “in-water work windows” after the permit is approved.
New individual dock applications will initially be accepted July 1-31, 2012. If more new private individual dock applications are received in July than the total number of remaining permits available, then a random lottery drawing will be held by the Corps in August. The lottery would also generate a standby list in case a dock permit became available at a future date. As of June 26, the Corps had received three community dock applications.
New private community dock applications accepted after June 30 will be subject to the same July 1-31 lottery procedure if all July applications—for both individual or community docks—exceed permits availability.
After July 31, if any of the new dock permits remain available, private individual and community dock permit applications will continue to be accepted on a first-come, first-serve basis.
The Corps recommends all dock permit applicants meet with a Corps representative to discuss application requirements and procedure. Contact Ice Harbor Natural Resources Management at 509-543-6062 or 509-543-6060 or by e-mail at McNarySMP@usace.army.mil. Ice Harbor Natural Resources is responsible for receiving and initial processing of McNary shoreline existing dock permit renewals, proposed new community dock permit applications, or proposed new individual private dock permit applications.
Dock permit application forms and procedures, Limited Development Area maps and more are available on the District website at http://www.nww.usace.army.mil/Missions/Projects/McNaryShorelineManagementPlan.aspx or by calling the Corps’ Ice Harbor Natural Resources Management office.
The shoreline plan also addresses vegetation modification and maintenance activities for landowners adjacent to the federal shoreline, whether or not they have a dock. It does not apply to public docks such as municipal docks, which are subject to other requirements. The Corps finalized its long-term effort to develop an updated McNary Shoreline Management Plan earlier this year after six years of environmental reviews, public meetings, consideration of public comments, and subsequent adjustments to various drafts of the plan.
Additional Background and Dock Technical Requirements
The updated shoreline plan addresses rules and regulations, shoreline allocations and requirements for permitting private use of public lands managed by the Corps. It addresses permits for private docks and vegetation mitigation on the public shoreline.
Three categories of private docks are addressed in the new plan: Existing private docks, new private community docks for two to four households, and new private individual docks. Detailed information and a copy of the shoreline plan are available on the District website at http://www.nww.usace.army.mil/Missions/Projects/McNaryShorelineManagementPlan.aspx.
New community dock applications are being accepted on a first-come, first-serve basis March 23 through June 30, 2012. The Corps is encouraging community docks because they reduce overall impact on endangered fish species and habitat. Community docks also help owners share costs and allow for a larger float size than individual docks. Community docks will require formation of a dock association. Approved new community docks must be constructed according to 2012 plan design criteria within four in-water work windows after the permit is approved.
Existing docks: Most of the 73 existing docks may be allowed to remain per the conditions of the 2011 dock inspection if the dock is in a safe condition and has not been extensively modified without authorization. When replacing a major dock component such as decking or floats, current dock owners will be required to use materials that comply with design criteria in the 2012 shoreline plan. Sale or transfer of the adjacent property will require that the new owner upgrade the dock to the 2012 design criteria within four in-water work windows. Permittees shall disclose these requirements to all potential buyers of the permittee’s land or residence. Disclosure of these conditions to future owners is a condition of the permit.
Permits valid five years: All private dock permits approved are issued or renewed for five year periods. Proposed dock permit actions on the public shoreline and project waters must be located in areas designated as “Limited Development” areas. Issuance or renewal of a permit does not guarantee long-term permission or that permits will be issued to future landowners.
New dock construction: New docks must be constructed according to 2012 shoreline plan criteria. A new dock or upgrades must be constructed within four in-water work windows after the permit application is approved. The permit will be revoked and made available to another applicant if it’s not constructed within that time frame. Dock floats normally must be placed no less than 40 feet from the ordinary high water mark on the shoreline, but safety considerations may allow a lesser minimum distance if doing so would place a dock float in the navigation pathway.
Construction season: All dock construction or modification work must be accomplished during winter seasonal “in-water work windows” from Nov. 1 to Feb. 28 when risk to endangered fish species is lowest.