40.440.010    Introduction

A.    Purpose.

    The purpose of this chapter is to further the goal of no net loss of habitat functions and values within designated habitat areas by protecting environmentally distinct, fragile and valuable fish and wildlife habitat areas, as defined in Section 40.440.010(C), for present and future generations, while also allowing for reasonable use of private property. This chapter intends to conserve the functional integrity of the habitats needed to perpetually support fish and wildlife populations.

1.    These purposes are to be carried out by reviewing impacts of proposed activities within designated habitat areas, and through the development of education, outreach and incentive programs. Review under this chapter shall be based on best available science and the mandates of the Washington Growth Management Act, and shall include consultation with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). The county shall emphasize education and voluntary conservation options prior to regulatory enforcement.

2.    Within areas designated by this chapter, development or clearing activities which degrade habitat should generally be avoided where possible. However, activities listed as exempt in this chapter can be undertaken in habitat areas without additional review. Activities not listed as exempt can be undertaken following county review if they do not substantially diminish the habitat functions and values present.

3.    It is the intent of Council that this chapter be administered with flexibility and attention to site-specific characteristics.

4.    The provisions of this chapter dealing with existing agricultural activities are designed to balance conflicting Growth Management Act goals to preserve both agricultural uses and habitat areas, and recognize:

a.    That the maintenance and enhancement of natural resource-based industries, including agriculture, is a goal of the state Growth Management Act;

b.    That any regulation should be consistent with the “right to farm” provisions in Chapter 9.26 of this code;

c.    That agricultural lands can provide habitat;

d.    That habitat protection must relate to the baseline of existing functions and values given historic agricultural practices, rather than seeking to restore pre-agricultural conditions;

e.    That since agricultural activities are dynamic, habitat functions and values can be expected to fluctuate during the course of an agricultural cycle, which fluctuation must be considered in identifying existing functions and values; and

f.    That it is expected that continuation of existing agriculture will not degrade existing functions and values unless sediment, nutrients, or chemicals are allowed to enter streams, or existing beneficial canopy in close proximity to streams is significantly degraded.

(Amended: Ord. 2019-05-07)

B.    Applicability.

1.    General. Review under the standards of this chapter shall apply to any proposed development or non-development clearing activities within designated habitat areas, defined in Section 40.440.010(C), which are not listed as exempt, pursuant to Table 40.440.010-1.

a.    Development activities are those proposals already subject to existing county land division, building, grading or other review processes.

b.    Non-development clearing activities are proposals which are not otherwise subject to county review, but involve the alteration or removal of vegetation in designated habitat areas.

2.    Shoreline Master Program. Within shoreline jurisdiction, development may be allowed for those uses in the Shoreline Master Program (Chapter 40.460) either through a statement of exemption or through an application with a habitat review as part of the shoreline permit process.

3.    Activities Adjacent to Certain Designated Habitat Areas. Proposed new single-family residential development occurring immediately outside but within three hundred (300) feet of designated priority species polygons or within one hundred (100) feet of designated non-riparian priority habitat polygons shall require consultation with WDFW prior to issuance of a development permit. In such cases, further review under this chapter is not required unless WDFW finds that there are potential adverse impacts. Agricultural activities adjacent to designated agricultural riparian areas are subject to Section 40.440.040(B). Other proposed land divisions and nonresidential development adjacent to designated wildlife sites shall be subject to SEPA as normally required by Chapter 40.570 (State Environmental Policy Act), and mitigative measures established if there are adverse impacts to the adjacent designated habitat areas.

4.    Exempt Activities.

a.    All proposed activities outside designated habitat areas are exempt from review under this chapter, except where noted in Sections 40.440.010(B)(3) and 40.440.040(B).

b.    Within designated habitat areas exempt activities are listed in Section 40.440.010(D). These do not require review.

c.    All other proposed activities within habitat areas which are not consistent with an approved stewardship plan or subject to Section 40.440.040 shall be subject to the provisions of Section 40.440.020(D).

(Amended: Ord. 2012-07-16)

C.    Habitat Areas Covered by This Chapter.

1.    Categories. This chapter shall apply to nonexempt activities as defined in Table 40.440.010-1 that are proposed within the following habitat areas:

a.    Riparian Priority Habitat. Areas extending outward on each side of the stream (as defined in Section 40.100.070, Definitions) from the ordinary high water mark to the edge of the one hundred (100) year floodplain, or the following distances, if greater:

(1)    DNR Type S waters, two hundred fifty (250) feet;

(2)    DNR Type F waters, two hundred (200) feet;

(3)    DNR Type Np waters, one hundred (100) feet;

(4)    DNR Type Ns waters, seventy-five (75) feet.

    Water types are defined and mapped based on WAC 222-16-030, (Forest Practices Rules). Type S streams include shorelines of the state and have flows averaging twenty (20) or more cubic feet per second; Type F streams are those that are not Type S but still provide fish habitat; and Type N streams do not have fish habitat and are either perennial (Np) or seasonal (Ns). All streams are those areas where surface waters flow sufficiently to produce a defined channel or bed as indicated by hydraulically sorted sediments or the removal of vegetative litter or loosely rooted vegetation by the action of moving water. Ns streams must connect to another stream above ground. Seasonal or intermittent streams are surface streams with no measurable flow during thirty (30) consecutive days in a normal water year.

b.    Other Priority Habitats and Species (PHS). Areas identified by and consistent with WDFW priority habitats and species criteria, including areas within one thousand (1,000) feet of individual species point sites. The county shall defer to WDFW in regards to classification, mapping and interpretation of priority habitat species.

c.    Locally Important Habitats and Species. Areas legislatively designated and mapped by the county because of unusual or unique habitat warranting protection because of qualitative species diversity or habitat system health indicators. This subsection shall not apply to areas which have not been designated on official mapping. The criteria for mapping of these areas are that they possess unusual or unique habitat warranting protection because of qualitative species diversity or habitat system health indicators. Recommendations for mapping areas meeting these criteria may be submitted by any person or group, and shall be reviewed annually by the county in conjunction with the plan amendments docket process as specified by Section 40.560.030 (Amendments Docket). Notice of any such recommendations deemed to merit formal consideration shall be provided to impacted property owners pursuant to Section 40.510.030(E)(3) (Type III Process). Such recommendations will not be reviewed as part of individual development requests.

2.    Best Available Science. Definitions and maps of habitat areas are based on best available science, as defined in WAC 365-195-905 (Criteria for determining which information is the “best available science”) and described in the following documents:

a.    1999 Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Priority Habitats and Species List;

b.    1997 Management Recommendations for Washington’s Priority Habitats;

c.    The list of best available science references as maintained by the responsible official; and

d.    Associated GIS data files maintained by Clark County Department of Assessment and GIS.

    Best available scientific data supporting this chapter may be updated and/or re-evaluated as part of future Title 40 (Unified Development Code) amendments.

3.    Determining Site-Specific Applicability. In the event of inconsistencies, official habitat area definitions shall prevail over countywide maps in determining applicability of this chapter. The county shall follow the recommendations of WDFW in the interpretation of site-specific conditions as they relate to the definition of priority habitat and species.

D.    Activities Reviewed Under This Chapter.

    This chapter applies to activities within designated priority and locally important habitat areas as described in Table 40.440.010-1.

Table 40.440.010-1. Exempt and Reviewed Activities 

Proposal

Is a clearing review required?

Are any additional fees or review timelines required?

Land division or lot reconfiguration entirely outside habitat areas, except as subject to Section 40.440.010(B)(3)

No. Exempt

Fees pursuant to Chapter 6.110A

Land division or lot reconfiguration containing habitat areas, except as subject to Section 40.440.010(B)(3)

Exempt if impacted lots establish building and clearing envelopes outside of habitat

Fees pursuant to Chapter 6.110A. Adjustment to allow smaller lots necessary for critical lands protection can be provided without additional fees if consistent with overall zoning density as per Section 40.440.020(C)(1)

Any activities on lots not in habitat areas, except as subject to Section 40.440.010(B)(3)

Exempt

None

Any activities on portions of lots not containing habitat areas, except as subject to Section 40.440.010(B)(3)

Exempt

None

Remodeling, replacement of, or additions to existing homes and associated appurtenances that expand the original footprint by no more than 900 square feet within the outer 50 percent of the riparian habitat area and do not require clearing of native trees or shrubs.

Exempt

None

Maintenance of existing yards and landscaping in habitat areas

Exempt

None

Forest practices in habitat areas that are regulated by the Washington Department of Natural Resources under the Forest Practices Rules or regulated under Clark County Code Section 40.260.080, Forest Practices, except conversions or conversion option harvest plans (COHPs)

Exempt

None

Emergency clearing to abate immediate danger to persons or property. For emergency clearing of hazard trees, remove only that portion of a hazard tree as is minimally necessary to remediate the hazard. Cut wood should be left in the habitat area

Exempt

None

Clearing necessary for the emergency repair of utility or public facilities; provided, that notification of emergency work that causes substantial degradation to functions and values is reported in a timely manner

Exempt

None

Clearing for operation, maintenance or repair of existing utilities or public facilities that does not further increase the impact to, or encroach further within the habitat area

Exempt

None

Clearing of defined nuisance vegetation in habitat areas which utilizes methods that minimize disturbance of soils and non-nuisance vegetation. Replanting with native vegetation should be pursued to prevent re-infestation

Exempt

None

Clearing as minimally necessary for placement of fencing, private wells, septic systems or individual lot sewer, water, electrical or utility connections in habitat areas, where practical alternatives do not exist

Exempt

None

Clearing as minimally necessary for stream bank restoration, for native replanting or enhancements in habitat areas

Exempt

None

Clearing as minimally necessary for routine road maintenance activities in habitat areas consistent with Regional Road Maintenance ESA Program Guidelines

Exempt

None

Clearing as minimally necessary for soil, water, vegetation or resource conservation projects having received an environmental permit from a public agency in habitat areas

Exempt

None

Clearing as minimally necessary for creating a 4-foot or narrower path using natural, wood-based, or vegetated pervious surfacing in habitat areas

Exempt

None

Clearing as minimally necessary for surveying or testing in habitat areas

Exempt

None

Clearing or development in riparian habitat areas which is at least one hundred (100) feet from the waterline and separated by a continuous public or private roadway serving three (3) or more lots

Exempt

None

Non-development clearing activities in habitat areas consistent with a recorded stewardship plan for which any mitigation specified in the plan is timely completed

Exempt

None

Existing agricultural uses within non-riparian habitat areas

Exempt

None

Existing agricultural uses within riparian habitat areas

Reviewed under Section 40.440.040(B)(1)(b)

None

New home or other construction in habitat areas

Review required

No additional timelines. Applicable review (building permit, etc.) must comply with ordinance standards. Fees pursuant to Title 6

All other vegetation clearing in habitat areas

Review required

Fees pursuant to Title 6. Applicable review, if any, must comply with ordinance standards. If no other review involved, clearing request will be reviewed administratively

(Amended: Ord. 2005-04-15; Ord. 2006-06-09; Ord. 2006-07-09; Ord. 2006-08-03; Ord. 2014-12-05)