Now suppose that the County identifies "shoreline armoring" on your beach, which the County characterizes as a potential ecological hazard to fish. The trouble is that you don't have any shoreline armoring on your beach, and you don't know what the County is talking about.
So you write to the County to try to set matters straight, but the reply you receive from the County essentially says, "Sorry, but the Friends have mapped shoreline armoring on your property, and I really can't correct the data now that it's in the database."
Thank you for your comments and pictures. The County was not involved in collecting the shoreline modification data used in the Inventory and Characterization Report shoreline modification maps. The dataset was collected by the Friends of the San Juan’s and subsequently passed along to the Department of Ecology to be used in the Washington Coastal Atlas.Well, thank you very much indeed! We (the County) believe Tina Whitman and not you, but thanks all the same. We think your homeowner information stretching back decades is anecdotal, but the Friends information is science.
Many of the datasets used in the Inventory and Characterization Report were developed by organizations other than the County, including the National Marine Fisheries, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Native Tribes, Department of Ecology and others.
In order to be consistent with the state law, the County collected available information for inclusion in the Inventory and Characterization Report. That said, the County is not precluded from considering anecdotal evidence and your letters and pictures are part of the record that the Planning Commission and Council will consider when evaluating the merits of the updated Shoreline Master Program.
I relayed your concerns to the data providers and they have reaffirmed their original finding. I’ve attached a copy of an email I received from Tina Whitman of the Friends of the San Juan’s. Ms. Whitman, I understand played an active role in the collection of the data.
Without a site visit, I cannot determine the accuracy of this data point.
Please submit your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or to the mailing address above.
Thank you for your time and commitment to SMP update process.
Want to guess what all the fuss is about? I'm sure you've seen old piles of field stones that dot the pastures in these islands. Settlers used to pile rocks during land clearing to make the land easier to work. Many of these piles can still be seen around the county. It just so happens that in the case described above, an old pile of field stone was placed on the upper part of a beach instead of in a field. Roll forward about 100 years or so and along come the Friends, and they map the old rock pile as a "shoreline modification" ... a pile of field stone that's probably over a century old ... and is in rather shabby condition to boot.
See for yourself. The homeowners are in disbelief (as is the Trojan Heron).
Per your request I reviewed the tax parcel number you sent me in our 2009 shoreline modification inventory ARC GIS geodatabase.
The attached document shows:
Pg. 1) tax parcel (red dot), armor line from modification inventory (red line), as well as the location of the two photos (black dot and purple triangle);
Pg. 2) the county’s vertical aerial photographs from 2008 with the rockery in question circled in red; and
Pgs. 3) and 4) the two project photos taken at the time of the boat based survey, in June of 2009.
Our project mapped all shoreline armoring (hardening) greater than 5 feet in shoreline length. The rock fill at the base of and along that section of bank met that criteria and as a result were mapped. I don’t know if it has been since been removed, or if it’s a difference of opinion regarding more typical ‘bulkheads’ (the definitions of which vary widely depending on your discipline and region of the country and world) versus ‘armoring’, but the photos indicate the presence of placed rock in 2008 (san juan county’s vertical aerials) and 2009 (modification inventory field photos).
Tina Whitman, MS
Friends of the San Juans
P.O. Box 1344 Friday Harbor, WA 98250
(360) 378-2319 www.sanjuans.org