40.240.860 General Management Area Sensitive Wildlife Review Criteria

A.    Sensitive Wildlife Areas and Sites and Site Plans Near Sensitive Wildlife.

1.    Proposed uses within one thousand (1,000) feet of a sensitive wildlife area or site shall be evaluated for adverse effects, including cumulative effects, and adverse effects shall be prohibited.

a.    “Sensitive wildlife areas” in the Columbia Gorge means the following land and water areas that appear in the wildlife inventory map prepared and maintained by the Gorge Commission:

(1)    Bald eagle habitat;

(2)    Deer and elk winter range;

(3)    Elk habitat;

(4)    Mountain goat habitat;

(5)    Peregrine falcon habitat;

(6)    Pika colony area;

(7)    Pileated woodpecker habitat;

(8)    Pine marten habitat;

(9)    Shallow water fish habitat (Columbia River);

(10)    Special streams;

(11)    Special habitat area;

(12)    Spotted owl habitat;

(13)    Sturgeon spawning area;

(14)    Tributary fish habitat;

(15)    Turkey habitat;

(16)    Waterfowl area;

(17)    Western pond turtle habitat.

b.    “Sensitive wildlife sites” means sites that are used by animal species that are:

(1)    Listed as endangered or threatened pursuant to federal or state endangered species acts; and

(2)    Listed as endangered, threatened, sensitive, or candidate by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission, or considered to be of special interest to the public (limited to great blue heron, osprey, golden eagle, and prairie falcon).

2.    In addition to the information required in all site plans, site plans for uses within one thousand (1,000) feet of a sensitive wildlife area or site shall include a map prepared at a scale of one (1) inch equals one hundred (100) feet (1:1,200), or a scale providing greater detail.

(Amended: Ord. 2018-03-04)

B.    Uses.

    Uses allowed outright in sensitive wildlife areas are listed in Section 40.240.120.

C.    Field Survey.

    A field survey to identify sensitive wildlife areas or sites shall be required for:

1.    Land divisions that create four (4) or more parcels;

2.    Recreation facilities that contain parking areas for more than ten (10) cars, overnight camping facilities, boat ramps, and visitor information and environmental education facilities;

3.    Public transportation facilities that are outside improved rights-of-way;

4.    Electric facilities, lines, equipment, and appurtenances that are thirty-three (33) kilovolts or greater; and

5.    Communications, water and sewer, and natural gas transmission (as opposed to distribution) lines, pipes, equipment, and appurtenances and other project-related activities except when all of their impacts will occur inside previously disturbed road, railroad or utility corridors, or existing development utility sites, that are maintained annually.

6.    Field surveys shall cover all areas affected by the proposed use or recreation facility. They shall be conducted by a professional wildlife biologist hired by the project applicant. All sensitive wildlife areas and sites discovered in a project area shall be described and shown on the site plan map.

(Amended: Ord. 2007-11-13)

D.    Uses not listed in Section 40.240.860(B) may be allowed within one thousand (1,000) feet of a sensitive wildlife area or site, when approved pursuant to Section 40.240.860(E) and reviewed under the applicable provisions of Sections 40.240.800 through 40.240.900.

E.    Uses that are proposed within one thousand (1,000) feet of a sensitive wildlife area or site shall be reviewed as follows:

1.    Site plans shall be submitted to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife by the responsible official. State wildlife biologists will review the site plan and their field survey records and:

a.    Identify/verify the precise location of the wildlife area or site;

b.    Ascertain whether the wildlife area or site is active or abandoned; and

c.    Determine if the proposed use may compromise the integrity of the wildlife area or site or occur during the time of the year when wildlife species are sensitive to disturbance, such as nesting or rearing seasons. In some instances, state wildlife biologists may conduct field surveys to verify the wildlife inventory and assess the potential effects of a proposed use.

2.    The following factors may be considered when site plans are reviewed:

a.    Biology of the affected wildlife species;

b.    Published guidelines regarding the protection and management of the affected wildlife species. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has prepared guidelines for a variety of species, including the western pond turtle, the peregrine falcon, and the Larch Mountain salamander (Rodrick and Milner, 1991);

c.    Physical characteristics of the subject parcel and vicinity, including topography and vegetation;

d.    Historic, current, and proposed uses in the vicinity of the sensitive wildlife area or site;

e.    Existing condition of the wildlife area or site and the surrounding habitat and the useful life of the area or site.

3.    The wildlife protection process may terminate if the responsible official, in consultation with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, determines:

a.    The sensitive wildlife area or site is not active; or

b.    The proposed use would not compromise the integrity of the wildlife area or site or occur during the time of the year when wildlife species are sensitive to disturbance.

4.    If the responsible official, in consultation with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, determines that the proposed use would have only minor effects on the wildlife area or site that could be eliminated through mitigation measures recommended by the state wildlife biologist or by simply modifying the site plan or regulating the timing of new uses, a letter shall be sent to the applicant that describes the effects and measures needed to eliminate them. If the project applicant accepts these recommendations, the responsible official will incorporate them into the development review order and the wildlife protection process may conclude.

5.    The project applicant shall prepare a wildlife management plan if the responsible official, in consultation with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, determines that the proposed use would adversely affect a sensitive wildlife area or site and the effects of the proposed use cannot be eliminated through site plan modifications or project timing.

6.    The responsible official shall submit a copy of all field surveys and wildlife management plans to Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife will have twenty (20) days from the date that a field survey or management plan is mailed to submit written comments to the responsible official. The responsible official shall record and address any written comments submitted by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife in the land use review order. Based on the comments from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, the responsible official will make a final decision on whether the proposed use would be consistent with the wildlife policies and guidelines. If the final decision contradicts the comments submitted by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, the responsible official shall justify how the opposing conclusion was reached. The responsible official shall require the applicant to revise the wildlife management plan as necessary to ensure that the proposed use would not adversely affect a sensitive wildlife area or site.

F.    Wildlife Management Plans.

    Wildlife management plans shall be prepared when a proposed use is likely to adversely affect a sensitive wildlife area or site. Their primary purpose is to document the special characteristics of a project site and the habitat requirements of affected wildlife species. This information provides a basis for the project applicant to redesign the proposed use in a manner that protects sensitive wildlife areas and sites, maximizes his/her development options, and mitigates temporary impacts to the wildlife area or site and/or buffer zone. Wildlife management plans shall meet the following guidelines:

1.    Wildlife management plans shall be prepared by a professional wildlife biologist hired by the project applicant.

2.    All relevant background information shall be documented and considered, including biology of the affected species, published protection and management guidelines, physical characteristics of the subject parcel, past and present use of the subject parcel, and useful life of the wildlife area or site.

3.    The core habitat of the sensitive wildlife species shall be delineated. It shall encompass the sensitive wildlife area or site and the attributes, or key components, that are essential to maintain the long-term use and integrity of the wildlife area or site.

4.    A wildlife buffer zone shall be employed. It shall be wide enough to ensure that the core habitat is not adversely affected by new uses, or natural forces, such as fire and wind. Buffer zones shall be delineated on the site plan map and shall reflect the physical characteristics of the project site and the biology of the affected species.

5.    The size, scope, configuration, or density of new uses within the core habitat and the wildlife buffer zone shall be regulated to protect sensitive wildlife species. The timing and duration of all uses shall also be regulated to ensure that they do not occur during the time of the year when wildlife species are sensitive to disturbance. The following shall apply:

a.    New uses shall generally be prohibited within the core habitat. Exceptions may include uses that have temporary and negligible effects, such as the installation of minor underground utilities or the maintenance of existing structures. Low-intensity, nondestructive uses may be conditionally authorized in the core habitat.

b.    Intensive uses shall be generally prohibited in wildlife buffer zones. Such uses may be conditionally authorized when a wildlife area or site is inhabited seasonally, provided they will have only temporary effects on the wildlife buffer zone and rehabilitation and/or enhancement will be completed before a particular species returns.

6.    Rehabilitation and/or enhancement shall be required when new uses are authorized within wildlife buffer zones. When a buffer zone has been altered or degraded in the past, it shall be rehabilitated to its natural condition to the maximum extent practicable. When complete rehabilitation is not possible, such as when new structures permanently displace wildlife habitat, enhancement shall also be required. Enhancement shall achieve a no net loss of the integrity of the wildlife area or site. Rehabilitation and enhancement actions shall be documented in the wildlife management plan and shall include a map and text.

7.    The applicant shall prepare and implement a three (3) year monitoring plan when the affected wildlife area or site is occupied by a species that is listed as endangered or threatened pursuant to federal or state wildlife lists. It shall include an annual report and shall track the status of the wildlife area or site and the success of rehabilitation and/or enhancement actions. At the end of three (3) years, rehabilitation and enhancement efforts may conclude if they are successful. In instances where rehabilitation and enhancement efforts have failed, the monitoring process shall be extended until the applicant satisfies the rehabilitation and enhancement guidelines.

G.    New Fences in Deer and Elk Winter Range.

1.    New fences in deer and elk winter range shall be allowed only when necessary to control livestock or exclude wildlife from specified areas, such as gardens or sensitive wildlife sites. The areas fenced shall be the minimum necessary to meet the immediate needs of the project applicant.

2.    New and replacement fences that are allowed in winter range shall comply with the guidelines in Specifications for Structural Range Improvements (Sanderson, et al., 1990), as summarized below, unless the applicant demonstrates the need for an alternative design:

a.    To make it easier for deer to jump over the fence, the top wire shall not be more than forty-two (42) inches high.

b.    The distance between the top two (2) wires is critical for adult deer because their hind legs often become entangled between these wires. A gap of at least ten (10) inches shall be maintained between the top two (2) wires to make it easier for deer to free themselves if they become entangled.

c.    The bottom wire shall be at least sixteen (16) inches above the ground to allow fawns to crawl under the fence. It should consist of smooth wire because barbs often injure animals as they crawl under fences.

d.    Stays, or braces placed between strands of wire, shall be positioned between fence’s posts where deer are most likely to cross. Stays create a more rigid fence, which allows deer a better chance to wiggle free if their hind legs become caught between the top two (2) wires.

3.    Woven wire fences may be authorized only when it is clearly demonstrated that such a fence is required to meet specific and immediate needs, such as controlling hogs and sheep.

4.    Any fencing permanently erected within deer and elk winter range, as a result of an emergency/disaster response, shall comply with Section 40.240.860(G)(2).

(Amended: Ord. 2006-05-04)