PASCO, Wash. – The Walla Walla District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers invites members of the news media to meet with Corps officials Thursday, Oct. 27, to learn more about a recently revised McNary Shoreline Management Plan plus an associated Environmental Assessment (EA) and Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI). The media opportunity with Corps officials is at 5 p.m. on Oct. 27 in Room 3 at the TRAC Center at 6600 Burden Blvd. in Pasco. A public meeting is planned for the evening of Nov. 8 in Richland.
Media planning to attend should contact Gina Baltrusch at the Walla Walla District Public Affairs Office at (509) 527-7018 or firstname.lastname@example.org no later than noon on Thursday, Oct. 27.
Since a June 9, 2011, public meeting in Pasco, the Corps extended the public comment period, considered those new public comments, and met with groups of property owners potentially affected by the plan. The shoreline plan has been revised to generally allow existing docks to remain, but they must be upgraded to new 2011 criteria when the property is sold or title is transferred. Significant components such as decking and floats will need to be upgraded to new criteria if and when they are replaced. Newly built docks will need to conform to the 2011 criteria.
The Corps is taking a common-sense approach within the limits of the Endangered Species Act, so some exceptions to criteria may be granted by the Corps. For example, the shoreline plan calls for dock floats to 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. The Corps will consider alternate designs, but they must still meet fish-friendly requirements of maximizing depth, minimizing in-water structure, and maximizing light levels.
The McNary Shoreline Management Plan provides guidance for managing the McNary (Lake Wallula) shoreline. This plan addresses rules and regulations, shoreline allocations and requirements for permitting private use of public lands managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps). Releasing the draft EA and FONSI for public review and comment is a major milestone in the process of updating the Shoreline Plan, a step marking the near-completion of that process.
Most of the shoreline on McNary Dam’s reservoir (Lake Wallula) is federally managed. As a good environmental steward, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Walla Walla District, manages public shorelines around Lake Wallula, including both the Columbia and Snake Rivers in the Tri-Cities area (Pasco, Richland, Kennewick) of Washington. The McNary Shoreline Management Plan was last revised in 1983. Environmental and cultural resource requirements have changed significantly, thus necessitating management updates and a review of the permitting process for private boat docks permitted or licensed on public land, and modifications to vegetation located on federally managed lands.
In 2005, the Corps began the process to update the Shoreline Plan which included gathering public input, conducting a scientific literature review and a bathymetric survey of parts of the shoreline, and working with other state and federal agencies to craft a new plan that would meet the requirements of federal laws and policies, balanced with public recreation.