The state Shoreline Management Act (SMA) needs to be better enforced if we are going to recover riparian habitat faster than it is being lost.

Adopted by voters in 1972, the SMA aims “to prevent the inherent harm in an uncoordinated and piecemeal development of the state’s shorelines.”

Intense human land use puts continuous stress on lowland riparian resources in the Snohomish River watershed, for example. Analysis by the NWIFC, released in last year’s State of Our Watersheds Report, found that along anadromous fish habitat streams in the Snohomish River basin, riparian forest cover was only 49% in 2011, a 1% decrease from 50% in 2006.

From the report:

(O)ur forest cover assessment raises concerns that not enough riparian restoration has been planned, as the 1% decrease in riparian acreage between 2006 and 2011 is equal to a 383 acres of riparian acreage removed over that time frame. To verify this analysis, we looked at the WDFW High Resolution Change Detection (HRCD) data for 2006 through 2011 and found 343 acres of riparian acreage removed over that time frame.

The Snohomish River Basin Salmon Conservation Plan recommends at least 65% forested 150-foot riparian buffer on either side of all fish habitat streams. Intense human land use puts continuous stress on lowland riparian resources in the Snohomish River watershed.

Learn more about the 2016 State of Our Watersheds report.