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[Portal ID #1949]

Commerce Update of Critical Areas Guidance

Summary of the project

Wetlands rating system, Voluntary Stewardship Program, agricultural activities, FEMA Biological Opinion, availability of LiDAR, monitoring and adaptive management, a salmon recovery roadmap, and other new issues, programs and technologies will be addressed in this update to Commerce guidance on critical areas regulation. 

Commerce sent out a survey to local planners and consultants to assess county and city needs for guidance on this topic. We will use input from the survey, a technical advisory committee, and a local government sounding board to scope the content of this guidance update to best fit the needs for cities and counties. Results of Local Government CAO Update Survey

Timing for Issuance of Draft Chapters for Review

The first chapter of the guidance to be drafted for public review is the Monitoring and Adaptive Management chapter. This chapter was drafted first because it is a new chapter. Other chapters that incorporate updates of the WAC and links to state agency resources for best available science and management recommendations will be available in early 2018 for public review.

Updated Critical Areas Checklist (February 2018) - Pending the update of the Critical Areas Handbook, you can use the updated expanded critical areas checklist. The updated checklist includes links to state agency sources of Best Available Science, with dates for when the science was produced.

Critical Areas Monitoring and Adaptive Management Workshops - 2018

Commerce, Ecology and WDFW will be conducting a series of workshops around the state in early 2018 to provide tools for and get feedback from counties and cities on how to build local and state monitoring and adaptive management programs for protecting critical areas.

These workshops will review a new draft chapter in the Critical Areas Handbook, show how state High Resolution Change Detection Data can help local governments, share local approaches, and explore challenges and solutions to implementing such a program. The workshops will be used to inform the draft chapter. Public comment on the draft chapter ends April 30, 2018.

Peninsula Planners Forum - January 18, 2018, Poulsbo - Part I (agenda, presentations and breakout summaries): and April 19, 2018, location TBD - Part II

Mount Vernon - February 5, 2018 (agenda, presentations and breakout summaries)

Seattle - February 27, 2018 (agenda, presentations, breakout summaries, and Kirkland spreadsheet and landowner templates)

South Sound Planners Forum in Olympia - March 12, 2018

Southwest Planners Forum, Vancouver - April 11, 2018

Eastern Planners Forum, Moses Lake - April 25, 2018

Workshop registration: Send an email with the workshop location, your name, title, email address, and agency to COM Growth Education and Training at GrowthEducationTraining@commerce.wa.gov.

CM credit applications will be submitted for each workshop.

For more information about the workshops, see the Workshops web page with agendas and materials, or contact Heather Ballash at heather.ballash@commerce.wa.gov, (360) 725-3044.

Critical Areas Monitoring and Adaptive Management Chapter

Growth Management Services, WDFW, Ecology, and the other state natural resource agencies are excited to introduce a new chapter in the Critical Areas Assistance Handbook on monitoring and adaptive management to improve permit implementation. Growth Management Services is in the process of updating the Handbook, and this is the first chapter that has been drafted for public review. We have been working with a state technical committee and a local government sounding board to draft this chapter and other updates to the Handbook.

 All counties and cities in the state have adopted critical areas regulations and permitting procedures under the Growth Management Act and the Shoreline Management Act. They have adopted these regulations to facilitate protection of critical areas. But, a local government doesn’t have any way of knowing if they are achieving that goal without looking at the permit process and the on-the-ground results of critical areas regulation. They need a feedback loop to help determine whether goals are being met, and if the goals are not being met, how to improve the process.

This new chapter provides a suggested process for starting a permit monitoring program that can help local governments begin to address that gap in knowledge, and to improve permit implementation to protect critical areas. The chapter provides a number of case studies of counties and cities (and state and federal agencies) that have adopted and are implementing monitoring programs – why they set up a program, what they are monitoring, and what changes they are making in response to the information they have gathered. State data sources that can be used for monitoring are provided. An example local government permit tracking spreadsheet is included as a chapter appendix.

Check out the new chapter on the Library/Draft Documents page . Please note that this is the first draft chapter that has been issued for public review - comments on the draft are due by April 30 after the last workshop. Other draft chapters will be posted for public review in early 2018. For an example of Kirkland's SMP tracking spreadsheet, go the LIbrary/Resources page.


Bull Trout       Courtesy of USFWS
Bull Trout Courtesy of USFWS
Sage Grouse in Shrub Steppe
Sage Grouse in Shrub Steppe
Peninsula Poulsbo Workshop 1=18-18   Why Monitor Exercise
Poulsbo - Why Monitor?
Mount Vernon - Resources/Challenges
Seattle Workshop - Peer Consultation
Seattle Peer Consultation
Olympia - Peer Consultation
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