More details about HB 1838
The bill would require restoration of Riparian Management Zones (RMZ) associated with “rivers, streams, and floodplains that support salmon and steelhead recovery…” In other words — Huge Buffers.
How big would they be? Start at the high-water mark or edge of flooding, then add 100-249 feet! That’s the size of the RMZ that public and private landowners owning property adjacent to a water body identified and mapped on a riparian management zone map must establish, maintain, and protect.” [Sec. 203]
Fencing, planting, and not farming the land are the direction of this bill. “…A landowner may not conduct any activity that would remove or willfully degrade a riparian management zone, wholly or partially…” [Sec. 401(5)].
What are the penalties? Violation of the law or rules will subject a person to a penalty of up to $10,000 per day for each violation, in addition to any other penalties under other laws. [Sec 403] The Department of Fish & Wildlife is tasked with enforcement, and citations may be appealed to the state Pollution Control Hearings Board. [Sec. 203]
These bills also establish a “state/tribal riparian management oversight committee” that will review and support implementation of the act. [Sec. 701]
What does this mean? It appears that is left to the Department of Fish & Wildlife, the oversight committee, and possibly the state Pollution Control Hearings Board. None of these groups have any connections to what our farms and rural communities need.
Are there exemptions? The bill proposes limited exemptions to these draconian requirements: CREP-enrolled lands that have RMZs; legally permitted water access, picnic areas, boat launches; existing roads, structures, and trails; places with a NPDES permit; and regulated forests.
This bill must be seen for what it is – a farm killer. If Washington State wants local food, resilient farms, and farms as a key sector to reduce greenhouse gasses, then legislators must NOT pass this legislation. This is bad policy for everyone!