Seattle-based Watershed Company tapped as consultant for critical areas and shoreline updates

The Watershed Company has been selected as consultant for the pending update of San Juan County's critical areas ordinance and shoreline master program.

The Watershed Company, a Seattle-based environmental consultant, was one of three firms vying to undertake those two long-range planning projects. It was chosen unanimously by the County Council Aug. 24.

According to Council Chairman Richard Fralick, a member of the consultant selection committee, the Watershed Company narrowly edged out ESA/Adlofson in earning the committee's endorsement, in large part because the public participation portion of its proposal proved a better fit for the county.

He added that Watershed’s proposal was a little less costly.

"Either would be capable of doing the job," he said of the two firms. "Money was not a determining factor, but it's helpful that they were less expensive."

Planning Coordinator Shireene Hale said Watershed will assist in the CAO update by helping to develop and review a catalogue of locally-based best available science. It will also assist with the CAO's public participation plan, approved by the council in June.

The county also hired wetland specialist Dr. Paul Adamus of Oregon State University to oversee the creation of a body of best available science for local wetlands.

The budget for consultant work on the CAO is $50,000-$90,000, according to the county's request for proposals. However, Administrator Pete Rose said the CAO update could cost the county in "the neighborhood" of $250,000 by the time the process is complete. Approval of the CAO update is expected by July 2011.

The update of the county shoreline master program is expected to be complete by December 2010.

Although $450,000 was previously allocated by the state Department of Ecology to help fund that update, Fralick cautioned that the state’s financial woes — state Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-San Juan Island, said the state will face a $3 billion shortfall in the next two-year budget — could put that allocation in jeopardy.

Consultant selection criteria included:

— Understanding and experience of CAO and SMP updates and state law.
— Proposed approach to the two projects.
— Local experience and knowledge.
— GIS expertise.
— Experience working on controversial issues.
— References.
— Prior work and performance for other jurisdictions.

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