The Army Corps has revised proposed rules that Tri-Citians felt severely hampered the ability for new private docks to be added along the Columbia River.
The proposed McNary Shoreline Management Plan would allow landowners to keep their current docks without upgrading them. But when the property is sold or retitled, the new owner will have to comply with new fish-friendly design standards.
This is the second time the Corps has issued a revised draft plan based on public comment.
With the latest revision, current owners get a break on upgrading docks, as long as the existing docks still are safe and were not excessively modified without authorization, said Cindy Boen, Corps project manager for the management plan.
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New owners will have four winter seasons to upgrade existing docks, Boen said. New docks will need to be built within two winter seasons.
The criteria for the dock design remains relatively unchanged. Docks will need to use grating on their decks to allow light to penetrate, the walkway to the dock will need to be two feet above the water surface and the dock will need to be 40 feet out from the ordinary high-water mark along the shore.
But Boen said there will be some flexibility in applying the criteria based on the site evaluation.
The river provides habitat to seven species of salmon and bulltrout protected under the Endangered Species Act.
The number of new private docks allowed will remain at 27, which means a total of 100 private docks, Boen said. There has been a moratorium on dock permits since 2005, when the plan update started. Applications for new docks are not being accepted.
"We feel like we have a good balanced approach that supports our roles as the stewards of public land and also accommodates private use of the public shoreline," Boen said.
Some dock owners feel a few more changes need to be made before the plan is finalized.
Michael Korenko, a Pasco dock owner, said he is concerned about decreasing the shoreline where docks are allowed from 13 miles to three miles.
That means a number of people who were planning on applying to get docks aren't eligible.
With the proposed plan, about three miles of the more than 200-mile shoreline covered in the plan are zoned for limited development, where docks are allowed. Most of that three miles is in Pasco, Richland, Finley and Burbank.
Boen said the Corps did look at the proposed shoreline use allocations in response to public comments, but the three miles was determined to be what was appropriate to protect habitat and natural and cultural resources.
The Corps should also increase the number of new private docks allowed by 20, Korenko said. And he is hoping the National Marine Fisheries will take into account its report in February that docks are a low risk to fish, Korenko said.
The Corps is trying to be cooperative, he said.
A public meeting will be from 6 to 9 p.m. Nov. 9. The location will be announced soon.
Comments on the plan will be accepted through Nov. 27. For more information, go to nww.usace.army.mil and click on McNary Shoreline Management Plan on the right side of the home page.
If no additional changes are made, the plan could be finalized this winter, with the changes implemented by June, Boen said.