40.240.870 General Management Areas Rare Plant Review Criteria

A.    Sensitive Plants and Site Plans for Review of Uses Near Sensitive Plants.

1.    Proposed uses shall not adversely affect sensitive plants. “Sensitive plants” means plant species that are:

a.    Endemic to the Columbia River Gorge and vicinity; or

b.    Listed as endangered or threatened pursuant to federal or state endangered species acts; or

c.    Listed as endangered, threatened, or sensitive by the Oregon-Washington Natural Heritage Program.

2.    In addition to the information required in site plans, site plans for uses within one thousand (1,000) feet of a sensitive plant 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.

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

(Amended: Ord. 2018-03-04)

B.    Uses.

    Uses allowed outright in rare plant areas are listed in Section 40.240.120.

C.    Field Survey. A field survey to identify sensitive plants 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 developed 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 person with recognized expertise in botany or plant ecology hired by the project applicant. Field surveys shall identify the precise location of the sensitive plants and delineate a two hundred (200) foot buffer zone. The results of a field survey shall be shown on the site plan map.

D.    Uses not listed in Section 40.240.870(B) may be allowed within one thousand (1,000) feet of a sensitive plant, 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 plant shall be reviewed as follows:

1.    Site plans shall be submitted to the Washington Natural Heritage Program by the responsible official. The Natural Heritage Program staff will review the site plan and their field survey records. They will identify the precise location of the affected plants and delineate a two hundred (200) foot buffer zone on the project applicant’s site plan. If the field survey records of the state heritage program are inadequate, the project applicant shall hire a person with recognized expertise in botany or plant ecology to ascertain the precise location of the affected plants.

2.    The rare plant protection process may conclude if the responsible official, in consultation with the Natural Heritage Program staff, determines that the proposed use would be located outside of a sensitive plant buffer zone.

3.    New uses shall be prohibited within sensitive plant species buffer zones, except those listed in Section 40.240.870(B).

4.    If a proposed use must be allowed within a sensitive plant buffer area in accordance with Section 40.240.150, the project applicant shall prepare a protection and rehabilitation plan pursuant to Section 40.240.870(F).

5.    The responsible official shall submit a copy of all field surveys and protection and rehabilitation plans to the Washington Natural Heritage Program. The Natural Heritage Program staff will have twenty (20) days from the date that a field survey is mailed to submit written comments to the responsible official. The responsible official shall record and address any written comments submitted by the Natural Heritage Program staff in the land use review order. Based on the comments from the Natural Heritage Program staff, the responsible official will make a final decision on whether the proposed use would be consistent with the rare plant policies and guidelines. If the final decision contradicts the comments submitted by the Natural Heritage Program staff, the responsible official shall justify how the opposing conclusion was reached.

F.    Protection and Rehabilitation Plans.

    Protection and rehabilitation plans shall minimize and offset unavoidable impacts that result from a new use that occurs within a sensitive plant buffer zone as the result of a variance. Protection and rehabilitation plans shall meet the following guidelines:

1.    Protection and rehabilitation plans shall be prepared by a professional botanist or plant ecologist hired by the project applicant.

2.    Construction, protection, and rehabilitation activities shall occur during the time of the year when ground disturbance will be minimized and protection, rehabilitation, and replacement efforts will be maximized.

3.    Sensitive plants that will be destroyed shall be transplanted or replaced, to the maximum extent practicable. “Replacement” is used here to mean the establishment of a particular plant species in areas of suitable habitat not affected by new uses. Replacement may be accomplished by seeds, cuttings, or other appropriate methods. Replacement shall occur as close to the original plant site as practicable. The project applicant shall ensure that at least seventy-five (75) percent of the replacement plants survive three (3) years after the date they are planted.

4.    Sensitive plants and their surrounding habitat that will not be altered or destroyed shall be protected and maintained. Appropriate protection and maintenance techniques shall be applied, such as fencing, conservation easements, livestock management, and noxious weed control.

5.    Habitat of a sensitive plant that will be affected by temporary uses shall be rehabilitated to a natural condition.

6.    Protection efforts shall be implemented before construction activities begin. Rehabilitation efforts shall be implemented immediately after the plants and their surrounding habitat are disturbed.

7.    Protection and rehabilitation plans shall include maps, photographs, and text. The text shall:

a.    Describe the biology of sensitive plant species that will be affected by a proposed use.

b.    Explain the techniques that will be used to protect sensitive plants and their surrounding habitat that will not be altered or destroyed.

c.    Describe the rehabilitation and enhancement actions that will minimize and offset the impacts that will result from a proposed use.

d.    Include a three (3) year monitoring, maintenance, and replacement program. The project applicant shall prepare and submit to the responsible official an annual report that documents milestones, successes, problems, and contingency actions.

G.    Sensitive Plant Buffer Zones.

1.    A two hundred (200) foot buffer zone shall be maintained around sensitive plants. Buffer areas shall remain in an undisturbed, natural condition.

2.    Buffer zones may be reduced if a project applicant demonstrates that intervening topography, vegetation, manmade features, or natural plant habitat boundaries negate the need for a two hundred (200) foot radius. Under no circumstances shall the buffer zone be less than twenty-five (25) feet.

3.    Requests to reduce buffer areas shall be considered if a professional botanist or plant ecologist hired by the project applicant:

a.    Identifies the precise location of the sensitive plants;

b.    Describes the biology of the sensitive plants; and

c.    Demonstrates that the proposed use will not have any negative effects, either direct or indirect, on the affected plants and the surrounding habitat that is vital to their long-term survival.

4.    All requests shall be prepared as a written report. Published literature regarding the biology of the affected plants and recommendations regarding their protection and management shall be cited. The report shall include detailed maps and photographs.

5.    The responsible official shall submit all requests to reduce sensitive plant species buffer areas to the Washington Natural Heritage Program. The Natural Heritage Program staff will have twenty (20) days from the date that such a request is mailed to submit written comments to the responsible official. The responsible official shall record and address any written comments submitted by the Washington Natural Heritage Program in the development review order. Based on the comments from the Washington Natural Heritage Program, the responsible official will make a final decision on whether the reduced buffer area is justified. If the final decision contradicts the comments submitted by the Natural Heritage Program staff, the responsible official shall justify how the opposing conclusion was reached.

(Amended: Ord. 2006-05-04)