TUKWILA’S SHORELINES – THE GREEN/DUWAMISH RIVER
The Green/Duwamish River flows over 93 miles from the Cascade Mountains to Elliott Bay. Approximately 13 miles of the river meanders through Tukwila’s industrial district, urban center and residential neighborhoods. The river system has undergone extensive changes over the years. The population has increased dramatically, forests have been logged, levees have been built, streams and rivers rerouted, and freeways, homes, shopping and manufacturing centers constructed. All of this activity has forever changed the shoreline and riparian habitats of the Green/Duwamish River.
Human impacts on the river system have led to flooding and drainage problems and have hurt the habitat for fish and wildlife, especially salmon. Levees that were constructed to prevent flooding have adversely affected fish habitat, destroyed the connection between the river and the streams and wetlands that feed it, and restricted the ability of the river to carry storm water to Puget Sound during large storm events. As the impacts of human development have been recognized, State and Federal agencies have developed regulations that require local jurisdictions to provide better protection for remaining habitat, to control the collected storm water flowing directly into the river, and to identify and restore areas where habitat restoration can succeed.
In response to State and Federal requirements, Tukwila has adopted two policy documents related to the river – the Shoreline Master Program and land use policies in the City’s Comprehensive Plan. To carry out these policies, zoning regulations have been adopted. Most development within 200 feet of the shoreline requires a Shoreline Substantial Development Permit. The City’s shoreline development regulations balance economic and residential development with enhancement and stewardship of the ecological functions of the river.