Chapter 16.22


16.22.010    Designation.

16.22.020    Rating.

16.22.030    Contents of critical area reports.

16.22.040    Substantive requirements.

16.22.050    Mitigation.

16.22.060    Lake Bonney and Lake Debra Jane.

16.22.010 Designation.

Wetlands are those areas, designated in accordance with the 1987 Corps of Engineers Wetlands Delineation Manual and the Regional Supplement to the Corps of Engineers Wetland Delineation Manual: Western Mountains, Valleys, and Coast Region – Version 2.0 prepared by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (2010) or as revised. The city has maps showing the approximate location and extent of wetlands. However, these maps are only a guide, and will be updated as wetlands become better known. The exact location of a wetland’s boundary shall be determined in accordance with the above-stated manual as required by RCW 36.70A.175. (Ord. 1615 § 3, 2019; Ord. 1491 § 20, 2014; Ord. 1070 § 2, 2004).

16.22.020 Rating.

Wetlands shall be rated Category I, II, III, or IV according to the Department of Ecology’s “2014 Washington State Wetland Rating System for Western Washington” (Publication No. 14-06-29) as presently constituted or as may be subsequently amended. Wetland categories shall apply to the wetland as it exists on the date the city adopts the rating system, 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. (Ord. 1615 § 3, 2019; Ord. 1523 § 2, 2015; Ord. 1491 § 21, 2014; Ord. 1070 § 2, 2004).

16.22.030 Contents of critical area reports.

In addition to the requirements of BLMC 16.20.090, critical area reports for wetlands shall include:

A. Wetland delineation report including methodology, characterization using the rating methodology described in BLMC 16.22.020, field data sheets and a wetland delineation map as surveyed in the field. Buffer boundaries shall be marked in the field by a licensed surveyor and protected consistent with BLMC 16.20.130(F).

B. Assessment of wetlands, including acreage, category, required buffers, evidence of past illegal alterations, soil, topography, hydrology, ecology, and functional evaluation using a recognized method such as the Western Washington Wetland Rating System. (Ord. 1615 § 3, 2019; Ord. 1070 § 2, 2004).

16.22.040 Substantive requirements.

In addition to the substantive requirements of BLMC 16.20.130, the following requirements shall apply to developments in wetlands and associated buffers except as exempted above:

A. The higher the wetland category (Category I is highest), the greater shall be the emphasis on higher-priority “sequencing” methods per BLMC 16.20.065.

B. The following table establishes the standard buffer width that shall apply to each wetland category, depending on the intensity of the potential land use on the upland side of the buffer and the habitat score of the wetland as determined on the Wetland Rating Form for Western Washington Version 2, as presently constituted or as may be subsequently amended, completed by a qualified professional:


Wetland Typing

Land Use Intensity1

Overall Wetland Rating

Wetland Characteristics




Category I

Habitat score of 8 – 9 points

300 feet

225 feet

150 feet

Category I

Habitat score of 6 – 7 points

150 feet

110 feet

75 feet

Category I

Water quality score of 8 – 9 points and a habitat score of less than 6 points

100 feet

75 feet

50 feet

Category I

Wetlands that do not meet the characteristics described above for Category I wetlands

100 feet

75 feet

50 feet

Category II

Habitat score of 8 – 9 points

300 feet

225 feet

150 feet

Category II

Habitat score of 6 – 7 points

150 feet

110 feet

75 feet

Category II

Water quality score of 8 – 9 points and a habitat score of less than 6 points

100 feet

75 feet

50 feet

Category II

Wetlands that do not meet the characteristics described above for Category II wetlands

100 feet

75 feet

50 feet

Category III

Habitat score of 8 – 9 points

300 feet

225 feet

150 feet

Category III

Habitat score of 6 – 7 points

150 feet

110 feet

75 feet

Category III

Habitat score of 3 – 5 points

80 feet

60 feet

40 feet

Category IV5

Scores for all 3 basic functions are less than 16 points

50 feet

40 feet

25 feet

1. The land use intensity is the land use that will occur on the upland side of the buffer.

2. High intensity land uses include commercial, industrial, and retail developments; institutional use; residential developments at more than one unit per acre; high intensity recreation areas (golf course, ball fields, etc.); and hobby farms.

3. Moderate intensity land uses include residential developments at less than one unit per acre; moderate intensity open space (parks with biking, jogging, etc.); and paved trails and utility corridors with maintenance roads.

4. Low intensity land uses include low intensity open space (hiking, birdwatching, preservation of natural resources, etc.); and paved trails and utility corridors without maintenance roads.

5. For exemption of wetlands under 1,000 square feet see BLMC 16.20.070(B)(8).

C. The standard buffer widths for proposed high intensity land use impacts may be reduced to those recommended for moderate intensity impacts under the following conditions:

1. For wetlands that score moderate or high for habitat (six or more points for habitat functions), the width of the buffer can be reduced if both of the following criteria are met:

a. A relatively undisturbed, vegetated corridor at least 100 feet wide is protected between the wetland and any other priority habitats located on the subject property as defined by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. The corridor must be protected for the entire distance between the wetland and the priority habitat by some type of legal protection such as a conservation easement.

b. Implementation of the measures in the table below as deemed necessary by the director to minimize impacts to the wetland.


Required Measures to Minimize Impacts


Direct lights away from wetland


Locate activity that generates noise away from wetland

If warranted, enhance existing buffer with native vegetation plantings adjacent to noise source

For activities that generate relatively continuous, potentially disruptive noise, such as certain heavy industry or mining, establish an additional 10-foot heavily vegetated buffer strip immediately adjacent to the outer wetland buffer

Toxic runoff

Route all new, untreated runoff away from wetland while ensuring wetland is not dewatered

Establish covenants limiting use of pesticides within 150 feet of wetland

Apply integrated pest management

Stormwater runoff

Retrofit stormwater detention and treatment for roads and existing adjacent development

Prevent channelized flow from lawns that directly enters the buffer

Use low intensity development techniques

Change in water regime

Infiltrate or treat, detain, and disperse into buffer new runoff from impervious surfaces and new lawns

Pets and human disturbance

Use privacy fencing or plant dense vegetation to delineate buffer edge and to discourage disturbance using vegetation appropriate for the ecoregion

Place wetland and its buffer in a separate tract or protect it with a conservation easement


Use best management practices to control dust

2. For wetlands that score less than six points for habitat, the buffer width can be reduced to that required for moderate land use impacts by applying the minimization measures presented in the table in subsection (C)(1)(b) of this section.

D. Buffers shall be measured from the wetland boundary as surveyed in the field. These buffer widths presume that healthy native plant communities dominate the buffer. If wetland enhancement is proposed, the category of the wetland after enhancement shall pertain.

E. The director may increase the required buffer width and/or require buffer enhancement if a wetland professional determines that the wetland provides habitat for wildlife species that require greater protection than the standard buffer, or the buffer lacks healthy native vegetation or is otherwise handicapped in its ability to protect the wetland. Said determination shall take into account the score derived from the Wetland Rating System and such factors as topography, land use, and past disturbance.

F. The director may reduce the standard buffer width through buffer averaging in accordance with BLMC 16.20.130(H) or as provided in subsection C of this section.

G. Except as provided elsewhere in this critical areas code, all existing native vegetation in wetland buffers shall be retained without disturbance, mowing, or hard surfacing, nor shall any action be taken to inhibit volunteer regrowth of native vegetation. Invasive weeds shall be removed for the duration of any mitigation bond.

H. Stormwater management facilities, low impact development techniques, and bioswales are permitted in the outer 25 percent of the buffer of Category III or IV wetlands provided wetland functions and values are not significantly lost through fluctuations in wetland hydrology and construction integrates best management practices. (Ord. 1615 § 3, 2019; Ord. 1523 § 3, 2015; Ord. 1491 § 22, 2014; Ord. 1070 § 2, 2004).

16.22.050 Mitigation.

A. Mitigation for alterations to wetlands may be satisfied by restoring former wetlands, creating wetlands, or enhancing degraded wetlands, consistent with Wetland Mitigation in Washington State – Parts 1 and 2 (Washington State Department of Ecology Publication Nos. 06-06-011a and 06-06-011b) or as revised.

B. Mitigation shall generally replace wetland functions lost from the altered wetland except that the city may permit out-of-kind replacement when the lost functions are minimal or less important to the drainage basin than the functions that the mitigation action seeks to augment.

C. Mitigation shall be in the same drainage basin as the altered wetland. Wetland mitigation shall be in the same sub-basin unless a higher level of ecological functioning would result from an alternate approach. Mitigation proposals shall demonstrate how they are consistent with Selecting Wetland Mitigation Sites Using a Watershed Approach (Washington State Department of Ecology Publication No. 09-06-032), or as revised.

D. Mitigation projects shall be completed as quickly as possible consistent with such factors as rainfall and seasonal sensitivity of fish, wildlife, and flora.

E. Mitigation projects shall be designed utilizing Wetland Mitigation in Washington State – Parts 1 and 2 (Washington State Department of Ecology Publication Nos. 06-06-011a and 06-06-011b) or as revised.

F. Compensatory mitigation shall be determined using the methodology established in Calculating Credits and Debits for Compensatory Mitigation in Wetlands of Western Washington (Washington Department of Ecology Publication No. 10-06-01); or the mitigation ratios found in Wetland Mitigation in Washington State – Parts 1 and 2 (Washington State Department of Ecology Publication Nos. 06-06-011a and 06-06-011b), or as revised.

G. Repealed by Ord. 1615.

H. The applicant shall provide an as-built plan of the mitigation site, monitor the site in accordance with BLMC 16.20.110, and post a financial guarantee in accordance with BLMC 16.20.115. (Ord. 1615 § 3, 2019; Ord. 1523 § 4, 2015; Ord. 1491 § 23, 2014; Ord. 1070 § 2, 2004).

16.22.060 Lake Bonney and Lake Debra Jane.

Lakes Bonney and Debra Jane are classified as wetlands due to their size and the vegetated wetland areas upland of open water along much of the shoreline. According to the Washington Department of Ecology 2014 Wetland Rating System, both lakes are a Category III wetland with a habitat score of five. Lakes Bonney and Debra Jane are also classified as fish and wildlife habitat conservation areas. Therefore, activities on or adjacent to Lakes Bonney and Debra Jane are regulated pursuant to this chapter and Chapters 16.20 and 16.30 BLMC, with the following additions and exceptions:

A. Buffer. The standard buffer on Lakes Bonney and Debra Jane shall be 80 feet, measured from the delineated ordinary high water mark or wetland boundary. The buffer may be reduced to 60 feet by implementing the measures in BLMC 16.22.040(C)(1)(b).

B. Vegetation Conservation Area.

1. The area 20 feet landward of the lake ordinary high water mark or wetland edge shall be considered a vegetation conservation area. Existing native vegetation shall be preserved within the vegetation conservation area consistent with safe construction practices, and other provisions of this section. Native vegetation shall be preserved to maintain and provide ecological functions.

2. Vegetation conservation areas shall be fully replanted with native vegetation pursuant to an approved vegetation planting plan, pursuant to subsection E of this section, as part of the following development proposal:

a. Construction of a new primary residential or recreational structure either on a vacant lot or a lot on which a primary structure was previously located.

b. Any development proposed waterward of an existing primary structure.

3. Twenty-five percent of the required vegetated conservation area may be cleared or thinned for view maintenance and waterfront access as described in subsection C of this section; provided, the property owner has received a critical areas written exemption and that 75 percent of the area remains vegetated. Invasive species may be removed by hand, vegetation trimmed, and trees “limbed up” from the ground to provide views.

C. Allowed Uses and Encroachments in Buffer. The following developments and modifications may be located in the buffer upon approval of a written critical area exemption provided the improvements are conducted in a manner so as to minimize impacts to the buffer and adjacent wetland:

1. A private access pathway constructed of pervious materials may be installed, a maximum of four feet wide, through the buffer to the lake edge. Impervious materials may be used as needed to construct a safe, tiered pathway down a slope. Raised boardwalks shall be used through wetland areas to reach the open water or a moorage structure constructed consistent with regulations in this chapter. A railing may be installed on one edge of the pathway, a maximum of 36 inches tall and of open construction. Pathways to the shoreline should take the most direct route feasible consistent with appropriate safety standards.

2. Conservation and Restoration Activities. Conservation or restoration activities aimed at protecting the soil, water, vegetation, or wildlife.

3. Appurtenances, dry boat storage and other similar, water-related accessory structures subject to the following:

a. Only one water-related structure that is 200 square feet or less is permitted within the buffer.

b. The structure shall maintain a minimum 20-foot setback from the lake or wetland edge.

c. No structures shall be allowed in the vegetation conservation area except as allowed by subsection (C)(1) of this section.

D. Allowed Uses Waterward.

1. Docks may be constructed, expanded or replaced upon approval of a critical areas exemption consistent with the standards below:

a. Docks shall not extend farther than 20 feet waterward of the ordinary high water mark or 15 percent of the fetch, whichever is less;

b. Repealed by Ord. 1641.

c. The total area of the dock cannot exceed 100 square feet;

d. Each lot may only have one dock;

e. The structure must be accessory to an allowed use on the subject property;

f. Docks associated with a dwelling unit shall be for the exclusive use of the residents and guests of the associated dwelling unit. Structures shall not be leased, rented, or sold;

g. Docks shall not be treated with creosote, oil based, or toxic substances;

h. Any existing in-water structures abandoned or in disrepair must be removed as part of a new permit;

i. For pedestrian access trails or boardwalks to access the moorage structure, see subsection (C)(1) of this section.

2. New boat launches are prohibited.

E. Small Lakes Shoreline Vegetation Planting Plan. Vegetation planting plans for Lakes Bonney and Debra Jane shall meet the following minimum requirements:

1. The plan shall be recorded with the Pierce County assessor’s office as a covenant against the property after approval by the director. A copy of the recorded covenant shall be provided to the city.

2. The native vegetation shall consist of a mixture of trees, shrubs and groundcover and be designed to improve habitat functions and shall comply with the following minimum standards:

a. Trees. A minimum of one native tree per 300 square feet of required vegetated area shall be provided or preserved. A minimum of 30 percent of the required trees shall be native coniferous trees.

i. Deciduous trees shall be a minimum of two-and-one-half-inch caliper as measured per American Standard for Nursery Stock (ANSI Z60.1-2004).

ii. Coniferous trees shall be at least six feet high at the time of planting.

b. Shrubs. A minimum of one shrub per 20 square feet of landscape area shall be provided. The minimum size of the shrub at the time of planting shall be at least two feet in height, with the plant covering the dimensions of the container.

c. Vegetative Groundcover. Living groundcover plants of a minimum one-gallon size shall be planted in the landscaped area sufficient to cover the area within three years of planting.

d. Vegetation shall be fully established within three years. Areas which fail to adequately reestablish vegetation shall be replanted with approved plants until the plantings are viable.

e. The plan shall include limitations on the use of fertilizer, herbicides and pesticides as needed to protect water quality.

3. A five-year monitoring and maintenance program shall be prepared that meets the following minimum standards:

a. An outline of the schedule for site monitoring;

b. Performance standards, including, but not limited to, 100 percent survival of newly planted vegetation within two years of planting, and 80 percent for years three or more;

c. Contingency plans identifying courses of action and any corrective measures to be taken if monitoring indicates performance standards have not been met; and

d. The period of time necessary to establish performance standards have been met, not to be less than five years.

4. An alternative planting plan prepared by a qualified professional may be approved. Alternative planting plans shall include a five-year monitoring plan consistent with the standards in subsection (E)(3) of this section.

5. The city may require a financial security pursuant to BLMC 16.20.115 as a guarantee that the enhancements, maintenance and monitoring are completed to the satisfaction of the city. (Ord. 1641 § 6, 2020; Ord. 1615 § 3, 2019).