Shoreline Rules

Shoreline Rules
This brief overview of rules applies to activities within Spokane County shoreline setbacks around Liberty Lake. These also apply with minor differences to other categorized shorelands in Spokane County.

The shoreline setbacks on Liberty Lake range from 100-200’, depending on the shoreline environment designation assigned. There are three which apply on Liberty Lake.

Minimum Buffer Width
(feet from ordinary high water mark – OHWM)
Shoreline Residential: 100’
Rural Conservancy: 150’
Natural: 200’

Any type of new building, repair/modification of existing structures, repair/replacement of docks, removal of ANY native/existing vegetation (trees, shrubs, grasses, etc.), are subject to Spokane County Shoreline Development rules (Shoreline Master Program –SMP) and may require permits from the District, County and/or State – depending on the scope.

Yard Work and Landscaping

  • Clearing of vegetation, tillage, and application of fertilizers and chemical pesticides is prohibited within shoreline buffers (SMP,
  • Fill, grading or other alteration of shorelines for the purpose of creating additional shoreland area is prohibited (SMP,
  • The creation of artificial beaches by clearing, grading, or dumping sand, or gravels or other materials on uplands, wetlands, floodways or below the OHWM…is prohibited… except as a component of an approved shoreline restoration project (SMP,
  • Motorized vehicles are prohibited in the shoreline buffers (SMP,

The reason for rules governing activities in the shoreline setback zones are not big government overreach, they are designed to result in long-term benefits by protecting shoreline natural resources from pollution, damage to the natural environment, as well as maintenance of the natural riparian areas, which are a key part of keeping shorelands from eroding away into waters of the state.

Natural/native vegetation is the easiest and best way to keep your property from washing away into the lake – be that from storm events, wind-driven waves, or boat-driven wake/waves.

Liberty Lake has a long history of algae blooms and nutrient loading impacts to its ecology. On top of the Spokane County Shoreline Master Program, LLSWD utilizes stormwater capture and treatment requirements on development within the watershed to reduce nutrient loads entering the lake. This requirement is designed to share the burden of water quality management across properties and improvements made by property owners. The alternative could involve costly, highly intensive chemical treatments to the lake for decades to come. Those costs could be significant!

Shoreline Master Program (SMP):
Current SMP update:

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