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[Portal ID #1790]

Adams County Shoreline Master Program

Summary of the project

Adams County is conducting a periodic review of its Shoreline Master Program (SMP). The County’s current SMP was originally created in 1977 and last amended in 2015.  SMPs must be updated in accordance with the Washington State Shoreline Management Act (RCW 90.58) and SMP Guidelines adopted in 2003 (WAC 173-26). Adams County is required to complete the SMP Update by July 2023. The update is being developed with project funding from the Washington State Department of Ecology (Ecology).

An SMP is a locally prepared set of policies and regulations required by state law that:

  • Encourages appropriate shoreline development;
  • Promotes public access; and
  • Provides environmental protection

SMPs apply to Shorelines of the State, which are defined as streams with greater than 20 cubic feet per second flow and lakes greater than 20 acres in area. In Adams County, these waterbodies include the following:

Streams and Rivers


Palouse River

Alkali/Pines Lake

Morgan Lake

Cow Creek

Black Lake

Owl Lake

Rock Creek

Campbell Lake

Palm Lake

 Lower Crab Creek

Cow Lake

Pit Lakes


Finnell Lake

Royal Lake


Fourth of July Lake

South Teal Lake


Green Lake

Sprague Lake


Hallin Lake

Thread Lake


Herman Lake

"Para North Lake"


Hutchinson Lake

"Para South Lake"


Linda Lake



What is a Shoreline Master Program?

An SMP is a comprehensive shoreline land use plan and regulatory document that:

  • Accommodates appropriate shoreline uses,
  • Protects shoreline ecological functions and processes,
  • Promotes public access on public lands, and
  • Balances public and private interests.

SMPs carry out the policies of the Shoreline Management Act on local shorelines. SMPs are based on state laws and rules and tailored to local geographic and environmental conditions and existing development patterns.


The Shoreline Management Act (SMA), RCW 90.58, provides a statewide framework for managing, accessing, and protecting shorelines. Now more than 40 years old, the SMA reflects the strong interest of the public in our shorelines and waterways for recreation, protection of natural areas, aesthetics, and commerce.


Ecology has prepared a checklist of all laws and rules adopted, organized by year. The checklist is accompanied by a guidance document that explains each item. In 2022, the County reviewed its SMP and identified potential updates that would ensure compliance with newly adopted laws or guidance. Based on this checklist, amendments will be prepared.

What Geographic Area is Covered by the SMP?

In Adams County, the minimum SMP jurisdiction applies to the following shorelines of the state [RCW 90.58.030]:

  • Segments of streams where the mean annual flow is more than 20 cubic feet per second.

  • Lakes and reservoirs 20 acres and greater in area.

  • Shorelands adjacent to these waterbodies. The minimum shoreline jurisdiction for shorelands is:
    • Lands extending landward 200 feet in all directions from the ordinary high water mark (OHWM), including 200 feet in all directions from the OHWM at the 20 cubic feet per second point. (Shoreline jurisdiction would extend upstream of the 20 cubic feet per second point.)

    • Associated wetlands.


Adams County SMP Update Website

The pages on the website contain the following information:

Updates – When new materials are posted for review, meetings, hearings, or events are scheduled, we will post notices here.

Overview – General information regarding the SMP update.

Contacts – County staff to contact if you have questions or need additional information.

Events – As meetings, hearings, and events are scheduled, we will post information regarding their time and location.

Library – Documents including plans and maps related to the SMP will be updated and posted here.


Hallin Lake on Cow Creek
Rodeo Lake
Lower Crab Creek
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