Critical Areas

The state Growth Management Act was passed in 1990 to help ensure a coordinated and planned approach to future growth in the state, while providing for the environment, sustainable economic development, and human health. The act is implemented at the local (county and city) level and overseen at the state level by the Department of Community, Trade, and Economic Development. Cities and counties planning under the Growth Management Act must develop comprehensive plans that provide for 20 years of projected growth in the local jurisdiction. Further, cities and counties, whether fully planning under the Growth Management Act or not, must designate and protect critical areas:

  • Wetlands;
  • Aquifer recharge areas;
  • Frequently flooded areas;
  • Geologically hazardous areas; and
  • Fish and wildlife conservation areas.

Comprehensive plans and critical areas ordinances must be reviewed and updated, if necessary, every seven years. Between December 2004 and December 2007 all counties and cities in Washington were required to have reviewed and updated their Growth Management Act planning documents and development regulations.

The comprehensive plans and critical areas ordinances developed by local governments can include management provisions that relate to WA Department of Natural Resources (DNR)-managed aquatic lands. Therefore, DNR seeks to work with local planning agencies as they update comprehensive plans and critical areas ordinances to ensure that DNR management and local planning is compatible. DNR reviews and provides comments on changes to local comprehensive plans and development regulations, with particular emphasis on critical areas ordinances.

Go here for the Klickitat County Critical Area Ordinance.

As development occurs, Klickitat should designate and protect critical areas (wetlands, aquifer recharge areas, frequently flooded areas, geologically hazardous areas, and fish and wildlife conservation areas) from site-specific and cumulative impacts consistent with the WA State Environmental Policy Act. This includes habitat, including spawning, for return salmonids some of which are listed under the Endangered Species Act as well habitat for the Western gray squirrel. The proposed Husum/BZ Sub-Area Plan does not address these requirements.

See Husum/BZ Sub-Area Plan for additional discussions.