A northwest Spokane property owner has been ordered by the Washington state Department of Ecology and the city to undertake a series of steps to restore clear cut damage on an embankment above the Spokane River.
Nineteen trees of various size were cut down last year, including one that was allowed to drop into the river. A mix of conifer and deciduous trees were left scattered on the hillside.
The cutting behind a home at 1715 N. West Point Road occurred within the 200-foot buffer zone protected under the state’s shoreline law.
Brook Beeler, spokeswoman for the state Department of Ecology in Spokane, said the property owner, Carolyn Santantonio, is required to undertake a detailed damage assessment within 30 days, propose a restoration plan and set a timeline for restoration and annual monitoring reports.
The work must be done by a qualified landscape professional, she said.
Any monetary penalties would be assessed later. The detailed damage assessment will be used by the department to help determine any penalties, she said.
“We still have the ability to assess monetary penalties,” Beeler said.
Fines of up to $1,000 a day are allowed for failure to comply.
No permit had been issued for the cutting.
Beeler said that an investigation determined that the work was done by a man who went through the neighborhood offering to do cutting work.
The owner told officials it was done to open up views of the river.
The area is on the southeast side of the river just before it reaches the embankment below Pettet Drive, also known as Doomsday Hill on the Bloomsday route.
The home sits directly above the area that was cut.
Beeler said the incident should come as a reminder to shoreline property owners that under state law they have a responsibility to protect the shoreline and its ecological functions.
Owners should always check with local government planning offices before doing anything that disrupts the shoreline, she said. The department relies on members of the public to report violations, she said.
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