Chapter 18.270
WETLANDS

Sections:

18.270.010    Purpose.

18.270.020    Exempted wetlands.

18.270.030    Wetland determination.

18.270.040    Wetland delineation.

18.270.050    Standard requirements.

18.270.060    Wetland rating categories.

18.270.070    Standards—Buffer activities.

18.270.080    Standards—Wetland activities.

18.270.090    Buffer requirements.

18.270.100    Buffer modifications.

18.270.110    Wetland buffer maintenance and monitoring.

18.270.115    Wetland compensatory mitigation.

18.270.120    Wetland banking.

18.270.130    Emergency wetlands permit.

18.270.010 Purpose.

It is the purpose of this chapter to provide balanced wetland protection measures which:

A.    Ensure the goal of no net loss of wetland acreage and functions;

B.    Encourage restoration and enhancement of degraded and low quality wetlands;

C.    Provide a high level of protection for higher quality wetlands;

D.    Maintain consistency with federal wetland protective measures;

E.    Balance the need for the protection of natural resources with private property rights and economic development. (Ord. 16-24 § 1 (part), 2016: Ord. 04-025 § 4 (part), 2004)

18.270.020 Exempted wetlands.

The following wetlands are not subject to regulation under this chapter:

A.    Artificial. Wetlands intentionally created from nonwetland sites including, but not limited to, irrigation and drainage ditches, grass-lined swales, canals, detention facilities, wastewater treatment facilities, stormwater facilities, farm ponds, and landscape amenities; provided, that wetlands created as compensatory mitigation shall not be exempted.

B.    All isolated Category IV wetlands less than four thousand square feet that:

1.    Are not associated with riparian areas or their buffers;

2.    Are not associated with shorelines of the state or their associated buffers;

3.    Are not part of a wetland mosaic;

4.    Do not score five or more points for habitat function based on the 2014 update to the Washington State Wetland Rating System for Western Washington: 2014 Update (Ecology Publication No. 14-06-029, or as revised and approved by Ecology);

5.    Do not contain a priority habitat or a priority area for a priority species identified by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, do not contain federally listed species or their critical habitat, or species of local importance. (Ord. 16-24 § 1 (part), 2016: Ord. 04-025 § 4 (part), 2004)

18.270.030 Wetland determination.

The director shall determine if a wetland delineation is required based on the probable presence of a regulated wetland or buffer on a project site as shown by a mapped hydric soil, mapped wetland of the National Wetlands Inventory or other resource map available to the city, a site investigation, or other available resource indicating that a wetland may be located on or adjacent to the subject site. (Ord. 16-24 § 1 (part), 2016: Ord. 04-025 § 4 (part), 2004)

18.270.040 Wetland delineation.

A wetland delineation is required for all projects that contain a wetland or wetland buffer on the project site. Delineations shall meet the following requirements:

A.    Methodology. The location of a wetland and its boundary shall be determined through the performance of a field investigation utilizing the methodology contained in the approved Federal Wetlands Delineation Manual and applicable regional supplements. If a wetland is located off site and is inaccessible, the best available information shall be used to determine the wetland boundary and category.

B.    Information Requirements. Wetland boundaries shall be staked and flagged in the field and a delineation report shall be submitted to the department. The report shall include the following information:

1.    Topographic map of area;

2.    Vicinity map with project location;

3.    National Wetlands Inventory map showing site;

4.    Natural Resource Conservation Service soils map showing site;

5.    Site map, at a scale no smaller than one inch equals one hundred feet, if practical, showing the following information:

a.    Site boundary;

b.    Wetland boundaries;

c.    Total area of wetlands and buffers widths;

d.    Location of proposed development activities;

e.    Sample sites and sample transects;

f.    Boundaries of each Cowardin vegetation, hydroperiods, and hydrogeomorphic classes clearly labeled;

6.    Discussion of methods and results with special emphasis on technique used from the approved Federal Manual and applicable regional supplements.

C.    Wetland Rating. The wetland delineation shall contain an analysis of the wetland functions and values using the Washington State Wetland Rating System for Western Washington: 2014 Update, Ecology Publication No. 14-06-029, October 2014, or as hereafter amended or revised.

D.    Wetland delineations shall be completed by a qualified wetland professional as demonstrated by:

1.    Maintaining current certification from the Society of Wetland Scientists as a professional wetland scientist (PWS); or

2.    Having sufficient training and experience in wetland identification and related fields as may be demonstrated by the completion of an accredited university baccalaureate or postgraduate program and/or a combination of education and experience that enable that individual to make sound professional judgments regarding wetland identification and delineation.

E.    The city may retain a consultant to review the wetland delineation and require the applicant to modify or obtain additional information. (Ord. 16-24 § 1 (part), 2016: Ord. 06-02 § 1, 2006; Ord. 04-025 § 4 (part), 2004)

18.270.050 Standard requirements.

Any action granting or approving a triggering application for development on property that contains a wetland and/or buffer shall be conditioned on all the following:

A.    Permanent Marking of Buffer Area. A permanent physical demarcation along the upland boundary of the wetland buffer area shall be installed and thereafter maintained. Such demarcation may consist of logs, a tree or hedge row, fencing made only of wood, or other prominent physical marking approved by the director. In addition, signs measuring no more than six square feet in area and no shorter than four feet nor higher than six feet shall be posted at an interval of one per lot or every one hundred feet, whichever is less, and perpetually maintained at locations along the outer perimeter of the wetland buffer as approved by the director, and worded substantially as follows:

—Wetland Buffer—

Please retain in a natural state

BGMC 18.270.050

The signage and fencing shall be installed prior to any land alteration or construction. (Ord. 16-24 § 1 (part), 2016: Ord. 04-025 § 4 (part), 2004)

18.270.060 Wetland rating categories.

Wetland rating categories shall be applied as the wetland exists on the date of adoption of the ordinance codified in this chapter and as the wetland naturally changes thereafter, or as the wetland changes in accordance with permitted activities. Wetland rating categories shall not change due to illegal modifications. Wetlands shall be categorized into the standard rating system of Category I, Category II, Category III or Category IV as described in the Washington State rating manual. (Ord. 16-24 § 1 (part), 2016: Ord. 04-025 § 4 (part), 2004)

18.270.070 Standards—Buffer activities.

Wetland buffers shall remain undeveloped and undisturbed except for the following activities. Appropriate mitigation shall be required if the activities result in impacts to wetlands:

A.    Stormwater Facilities. Stormwater facilities are allowed, provided the facilities will not degrade the wetland or buffer and are designed to blend with the natural landscape. Unless determined otherwise by the community development director, the following activities shall be considered to degrade a wetland buffer when they are associated with the construction of a stormwater facility:

1.    Removal of trees greater than four inches diameter at four and one-half feet above the ground or greater than twenty feet in height;

2.    Disturbance of plant species that are listed as rare, threatened or endangered by the city of Battle Ground or any state or federal management agency;

3.    The construction of concrete structures other than manholes, inlets, and outlets that are exposed above the normal water surface elevation of the facility;

4.    The construction of maintenance and access roads;

5.    Slope grading steeper than four to one horizontal to vertical above the normal water surface elevation of the stormwater facility;

6.    The construction of pretreatment facilities such as forebays, sediment traps, and pollution control manholes;

7.    The construction of trench drain collection and conveyance facilities;

8.    The placement of fencing unless it meets the requirements for fencing below;

9.    The placement of rock and/or riprap, except for the construction of flow spreaders, or the protection of pipe outfalls and overflow spillways; provided, that buffer functions for areas covered in rock and/or riprap are replaced; and

10.    Other activities shown through a critical areas report or mitigation plan to degrade the wetland or buffer.

B.    Road and Utility Crossings. Crossing buffers with new roads and utilities is allowed provided all the following conditions are met:

1.    Impacts to the buffer and wetland are minimized;

2.    The road and/or utilities take the shortest route possible through the buffer;

3.    Appropriate landscaping is provided along the roadway to shield wetlands from activity on the roadway;

4.    Buffer impacts are mitigated pursuant to this chapter.

C.    Fences. Fences are permitted within buffers; provided, that the following criteria are met:

1.    Vegetation clearing necessary to install the fence shall be the minimum amount of impact necessary to install the fence;

2.    Fences shall consist of open materials that will not impede the movement of water and wildlife such as wood split rail or field fencing except that fences within existing improved yards may be composed of other materials;

3.    Applicable development approvals do not prohibit such installation.

D.    Other Temporary Activities in a Buffer. Regulated activities not involving stormwater management, road, and utility crossings are allowed in the buffer if all the following conditions are met:

1.    The activity is temporary and will cease or be completed within three months of the date the activity begins;

2.    The activity will not result in a permanent structure in or under the buffer;

3.    The activity will not result in a reduction of buffer acreage or functions;

4.    The activity will not result in a reduction of wetland acreage, classification, or functions; and

5.    Clearing is limited to the minimum necessary to complete the activity, and the cleared areas are restored upon completion. (Ord. 16-24 § 1 (part), 2016: Ord. 04-025 § 4 (part), 2004. Formerly 18.270.100)

18.270.080 Standards—Wetland activities.

A.    Activities within wetland boundaries or the filling of wetlands are generally prohibited subject to the specific standards and exceptions of this section and meeting the mitigation sequencing contained in BGMC 18.260.120.

B.    Category I Wetlands.

1.    The filling or draining of Category I wetlands is prohibited unless the proposed activity cannot be accomplished in a different location.

2.    All activities in Category I wetlands are prohibited except for road, utility and other public purposes where there is no other practicable location or alternative for the activity.

C.    Category II Wetlands.

1.    All activities in Category II wetlands are prohibited except for road, utility and other public purposes where there is no other practicable location or alternative for the activity. Where filling or draining is authorized, mitigation will be required pursuant to this chapter.

D.    Category III and IV Wetlands.

1.    Road and Utility Crossings. Crossing wetlands by utilities or roads is allowed, provided the necessary mitigation occurs pursuant to this chapter.

2.    Fences. Fences are permitted; provided, that the following criteria are met:

a.    Vegetation clearing necessary to install the fence shall be the minimum amount of impact necessary to install the fence;

b.    Fences shall consist of open materials that will not impede the movement of water and wildlife such as wood split rail or field fencing except that fences within existing improved yards may be composed of other materials;

c.    Applicable development approvals do not prohibit such installation.

3.    Other Activities in a Wetland. Regulated activities not involving utility crossings or wetland replacement are allowed in a wetland; provided, the following conditions are met:

a.    The activity will not result in a reduction of wetland acreage, classification or functions; and

b.    The activity is temporary and will cease or be completed within three months of the date the activity begins.

E.    All wetland activity is subject to the review and approval of a critical areas report and is subject to the requirements of BGMC 18.270.115, Wetland compensatory mitigation. (Ord. 16-24 § 1 (part), 2016: Ord. 04-025 § 4 (part), 2004. Formerly 18.270.110)

18.270.090 Buffer requirements.

A.    Determining Buffer Widths. Buffer widths shall be measured horizontally outward from the delineated wetland boundary based on the base buffer width identified in Table 18.270.090-1 and any adjustments authorized in this section.

Table 18.270.090-1

Base Buffer Width 

Wetland Category

Base Buffer Width

Category I

150 feet

Category II

100 feet

Category III

50 feet

Category IV

25 feet

B.    Buffer Width Modifications. The buffer widths established by subsection A of this section may be increased or decreased through the requirements of this section.

1.    Land Use Impact Category. Proposed land uses adjacent to the wetland shall be divided into the categories in Table 18.270.090-2 to determine increases or decreases in the base buffer width:

Table 18.270.090-2

Land Use Intensities 

Rating of impact from proposed changes in land use

Types of land uses that cause the impact based on common zoning categories

High

• Commercial

• Urban

• Industrial

• Institutional

• Retail sales

• Residential with more than 1 unit per acre

• High intensity recreation (golf course, ball fields, etc.)

• Conversion to high-intensity agriculture (dairies, nurseries, greenhouses)

• Growing and harvesting crops requiring annual tilling and raising and maintaining animals, etc.

• Hobby farms

Moderate

• Residential (1 unit/acre or less)

• Moderate-intensity open space (parks with biking, jogging, etc.)

• Conversion to moderate-intensity agriculture (orchards, hay fields, etc.)

• Paved trails

• Building of logging roads

• Utility corridor or right-of-way shared by several utilities and including access/maintenance road

Low

• Forestry (cutting of trees only)

• Low-intensity open space (hiking, bird-watching, preservation of natural resources, etc.)

• Unpaved trails

• Utility corridor without a maintenance road and little or no vegetation management

2.    Level of function for habitat, based on the Washington State Wetland Rating System, is as follows:

Table 18.270.090-3

Rating System 

Level of Function

Habitat Score in Rating System

High

8—9

Moderate

6—7

Low

3—5

 

Table 18.270.090-4

Width of Buffers for Category IV Wetlands 

Wetland Characteristics

Land Use Intensity

Buffer Width

All Category IV Wetlands

High

50'

Moderate

40'

Low

25'

 

Table 18.270.090-5

Width of Buffers for Category III Wetlands 

Wetland Characteristics

Land Use Intensity

Buffer Width

Moderate Habitat Function

High

150'

Moderate

110'

Low

75'

Low Habitat Function

High

80'

Moderate

60'

Low

40'

 

Table 18.270.090-6

Width of Buffers for Category II Wetlands 

Wetland Characteristics

Land Use Intensity

Buffer Width

High Habitat Function

High

300'

Moderate

225'

Low

150'

Moderate Habitat Function

High

150'

Moderate

110'

Low

75'

Low Habitat Function

High

100'

Moderate

75'

Low

50'

 

Table 18.270.090-7

Width of Buffers for Category I Wetlands

Wetland Characteristics

Land Use Intensity

Buffer Width

Wetlands of High Conservation Value

High

250'

Moderate

190'

Low

125'

Other Category I Wetlands:

• High Habitat Function

High

300'

Moderate

225'

Low

150'

• Moderate Habitat Function

High

150'

Moderate

110'

Low

75'

• Low Habitat Function

High

100'

Moderate

75'

Low

50'

C.    Land Use Impact Reduction. Buffer widths for high impact land uses may be reduced to those for moderate impacts under the following conditions:

1.    For wetlands that score moderate to high for habitat, the width of the buffer can be reduced if the following conditions are met:

a.    A relatively undisturbed vegetated corridor of at least one hundred feet in width is protected which connects the wetland with another wetland or other priority habitat as defined by the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife. The corridor must be protected between the two protected areas via some type of legal protection; and

b.    Measures to minimize the impacts of different land uses are applied as indicated in Table 18.270.090-8.

2.    For wetlands that score three to four points for habitat, the buffer width can be reduced to those for moderate land uses if measures to minimize the impacts of different land uses are applied as indicated in Table 18.270.090-8.

Table 18.270.090-8

Minimization Measures 

Examples of Disturbance

Examples of Measures to Minimize Impacts

Activities and Uses That Cause the Disturbance

Lights

Direct lights away from the wetland.

Parking lots, warehouses, manufacturing, high-density residential.

Noise

Place activity that generates noise away from the wetland.

Manufacturing, high-density residential.

Toxic runoff

Route all new untreated runoff away from wetland.

Parking lots, roads, manufacturing, residential areas, application of agricultural pesticides, landscaping.

Record covenants limiting use of pesticides within 150 ft. of wetland.

Use integrated pest management programs.

Change in water regime

Infiltrate or treat, detain, and dispense into buffer new runoff from surfaces.

Any impervious surface, lawns, tilling.

Pets and human disturbance

Fence around buffer. Plant buffer with “impenetrable” natural vegetation appropriate for region.

Residential areas.

Dust

BMPs for dust.

Tilled fields.

(Ord. 19-24 § 3, 2019; Ord. 16-24 § 1 (part), 2016: Ord. 04-025 § 4 (part), 2004. Formerly 18.270.070)

18.270.100 Buffer modifications.

A.    Wetland Buffer Width Averaging. The director may allow modification of the standard wetland buffer width in accordance with an approved critical area report and the best available science on a case-by-case basis by averaging buffer widths. Averaging of buffer widths may be allowed only where a qualified wetlands professional demonstrates that all the following criteria are met:

1.    It will not reduce wetland functions or values;

2.    The wetland contains variations in sensitivity due to existing physical characteristics, or the character of the buffer varies in slope, soils, or vegetation, and the wetland would benefit from a wider buffer in places and would not be adversely impacted by a narrower buffer in other places;

3.    The total area contained in the buffer area after averaging is no less than that which would be contained within the standard buffer;

4.    The buffer width is not reduced to less than seventy-five percent of the width established by BGMC 18.270.090;

5.    The averaging is accomplished on the project site or through an off-site conservation easement, covenant, or tract approved by the community development director. (Ord. 16-24 § 1 (part), 2016: Ord. 04-025 § 4 (part), 2004. Formerly 18.270.080)

18.270.110 Wetland buffer maintenance and monitoring.

When installation of a wetland buffer is required by this title, to assure survival of new plantings, the owner shall be responsible for the monitoring, maintenance, and replacement, if necessary, of wetland buffer plantings to assure ninety percent survival for trees, shrubs and ground cover within the first year.

The mandatory maintenance of a wetland buffer for a five-year period shall be assured by the developer prior to the final acceptance of a buffer by requiring one of the following options, subject to approval of the city as to legal form prior to acceptance:

A.    The posting of a performance bond for one hundred fifty percent of the estimated cost of maintenance of the wetland buffer, as approved by the community development director;

B.    The depositing with the city treasurer/finance director of a certified or cashier’s check for one hundred fifty percent of the estimated cost of maintenance of the wetland buffer, as approved by the community development director;

C.    Filing with the community development director of a copy of a service contract for maintenance of the wetland buffer; and

D.    Such other written commitments that will assure satisfactory maintenance of the wetland buffer as approved by the community development director. (Ord. 16-24 § 1 (part), 2016: Ord. 04-025 § 4 (part), 2004. Formerly 18.270.090)

18.270.115 Wetland compensatory mitigation.

Where a wetland is filled or impacted by an activity or development wetland mitigation shall be required consistent with the following standards:

A.    Mitigation shall be located on site or in the same local watershed as impacted wetlands (e.g., mitigation banks), or combination of on-site and off-site compensatory mitigation;

B.    Mitigation wetlands shall be of the same or greater category and shall provide the same or greater function and values of the wetland being replaced;

C.    Ratios for Creation and Reestablishment. The following ratios apply when a wetland is reestablished or created with the same category of wetland and the mitigation is accomplished within one year of the wetland impact:

Category and Type of Wetland

Creation or
Reestablishment

Rehabilitation

Enhancement

Category I:
Bog, Natural Heritage Site

Not considered possible

Case by case

Case by case

Category I:
Mature Forested

6:1

12:1

24:1

Category I:
Based on Functions

4:1

8:1

16:1

Category II

3:1

6:1

12:1

Category III

2:1

4:1

8:1

Category IV

1.5:1

3:1

6:1

1.    Enhancement. Enhancing wetlands to increase functions and values; at a minimum, enhancement acreage shall be four times the acreage required for creation.

2.    The mitigation ratio will double for unauthorized impacts to any category wetland.

3.    Replacement ratios may be decreased if the applicant provides documentation that the proposed mitigation has a higher than normal likelihood of success, it will provide functions and values that are significantly greater than the wetland being impacted, or the proposed mitigation has or will be conducted within two years and it is shown to be successful.

D.    Wetland mitigation projects shall consider the guidance provided in the “Wetland Mitigation in Washington State: Part 1—Agency Policies and Guidance” and “Wetland Mitigation in Washington State: Part 2—Developing Mitigation Plans,” Washington State Department of Ecology Publication No. 06-06-011a, now or hereafter amended or revised in developing plans;

E.    Wetland Preservation. Wetland preservation of Category I and II wetlands shall be allowed for compensation for wetland impacts less than one-half acre. Ratios shall be from 10:1 to 20:1 on a case-by-case basis as approved by the director. (Ord. 16-24 § 1 (part), 2016: Ord. 04-025 § 4 (part), 2004)

18.270.120 Wetland banking.

A.    Creation, enhancement and/or restoration of wetlands to use as mitigation for future wetland development impacts in the same watershed is permitted subject to the following:

1.    A critical area permit shall be obtained prior to developing any mitigation bank. If a critical area permit is not obtained prior to mitigation bank development, mitigation credit will not be awarded. On projects proposing off-site wetland banking in addition to required wetland mitigation, a separate critical area permit will be required for each activity. The performance and maintenance bond requirements of Chapter 18.260 BGMC shall not be applicable, provided there are no requests for mitigation credit prior to the city determining the mitigation banking is successful. If mitigation banking is not fully functioning, as defined in the critical area permit, at the time mitigation credit is requested, the performance and maintenance bond requirements shall apply.

2.    Federal and state wetland banking requirements and regulations, if applicable, shall supersede city requirements.

B.    The mitigation credit allowed will be determined by the city, based on the wetland category, condition and mitigation ratios as specified in subsection (A)(1) of this section.

C.    On projects proposing off-site wetland banking in addition to required permittee-responsible wetland mitigation, a separate permit fee will be required for each activity.

D.    Purchase of wetland bank credits is permitted to mitigate for wetland impacts in the same watershed, provided the applicant has minimized wetland impacts, where reasonably possible, and the following requirements are met:

1.    The approval authority determines that it would provide appropriate compensation for the proposed impacts;

2.    The impact site is located in the service area of the bank;

3.    The proposed use of credits is consistent with the terms and conditions of the certified mitigation bank instrument;

4.    Replacement ratios for projects using bank credits are consistent with replacement ratios specified in the certified mitigation bank instrument. (Ord. 16-24 § 1 (part), 2016: Ord. 04-025 § 4 (part), 2004)

18.270.130 Emergency wetlands permit.

A.    Emergencies. Emergencies are those activities necessary to prevent an immediate threat to public health, safety, or welfare, or that pose an immediate risk of damage to private property and that require remedial or preventative action in a time frame too short to allow for compliance with the requirements of this chapter.

1.    Emergency actions that create an impact to a critical area or its buffer shall use reasonable methods to address the emergency; in addition, they must have the least possible impact to the critical area or its buffer.

2.    The person or agency undertaking such action shall notify the city planner within one working day following commencement of the emergency activity. Following such notification, the director shall determine if the action taken was within the scope of the emergency actions allowed in this subsection. If the director determines that the action taken, or any part of the action taken, was beyond the scope of an allowed emergency action, then enforcement provisions of Chapter 20.102 BGMC shall apply.

3.    After the emergency, the person or agency undertaking the action shall fully fund and conduct necessary restoration and/or mitigation for any impacts to the critical area and buffers resulting from the emergency action in accordance with an approved critical area report and mitigation plan. The person or agency undertaking the action shall apply for review, and the alteration, critical area report, and mitigation plan must be reviewed by the community development director. Restoration and/or mitigation activities must be initiated within one year of the date of the emergency, and completed in a timely manner. (Ord. 16-24 § 1 (part), 2016: Ord. 04-025 § 4 (part), 2004)