Big news concerning docks on the Spokane River. The Court of Appeals has ruled in favor of the Department of Ecology, meaning a HUGE win for shoreline protection and the protection of Redband Trout.
Ecology wins appeal over City of Spokane Valley and Coyote Rock, LLC, concerning docks on the Spokane River
SPOKANE, WASHINGTON – Today, the Court of Appeals Division III issued a decision ruling in favor of shoreline protection and the protection of fish species in the Spokane River.
In the decision reached in State of Washington, Department of Ecology, Spokane Riverkeeper, et al. v. City of Spokane Valley, et al, the Court of Appeals overturned a previous ruling in Spokane County Superior Court that allowed developers from Coyote Rock, LLC to receive an exemption from obtaining permits required by Washington’s Shoreline Management Act (SMA) to construct up to 30 docks on the Spokane River. Construction of the docks had been ruled to be exempt from permitting requirements by the City of Spokane Valley.
“Today’s ruling is a big win for the enforcement of the Shoreline Management Act, one of the most critical tools we have at protecting shorelines, water quality and fish habitat, like our region’s premier fish, the Redband trout. While this may be only one stretch of the Spokane River, this ruling is much more significant for what it does for Ecology’s ability to enforce one of our nation’s strongest environmental protection laws.”
This Court of Appeals ruling today is a reversal of a previous ruling made in Superior Court, where Spokane Superior Court Judge Salvatore Cozza sided with the Coeur d’Alene based developer Coyote Rock LLC.
“Washington’s Shoreline Protection Act is supposed to be read strictly in favor of protecting our shorelines, so that places like the Spokane River are protected. Both the City of Spokane Valley and the Superior Court failed to give the benefit of the doubt to the River, instead allowing for dock development in an area of known Redband trout habitat.”
A copy of the decision is available HERE.
In May of 2010, Riverkeeper, The Lands Council and Trout Unlimited alongside the Department of Ecology, contested the permit exemption obtained by Coyote Rock both arguing that the two docks built on the river the previous winter did not qualify for the exemption from permitting requirements and that the cumulative effects of locating 30 individual docks on that particular reach of the Spokane River that would result in complete degradation of the shoreline in violation of the SMA. You can read more HERE.
In November of 2010, the Spokane Superior Court ruled in favor of the developer finding that the issuance of the exemption did not violate the Shoreline Management Act. Ecology appealed the decision of the Superior Court to Division 3 of the Washington Court of Appeals. You can read more HERE. Today’s decision overturns the decision of the Superior Court.