Chapter 14.50


14.50.010    Purpose.

14.50.020    Fish and wildlife habitat conservation area identification and classification.

14.50.030    Buffer standards – Fish and wildlife habitat conservation areas.

14.50.040    Fish and wildlife habitat conservation area review procedures.

14.50.050    Allowed activities.

14.50.060    Alteration of watercourses.

14.50.070    Mitigation requirements.

14.50.080    Appendix.

14.50.010 Purpose.

Many land use activities can impact the habitats of fish and wildlife. Special care must be taken in the management of lands that support fish and wildlife species to ensure that development occurs in a manner that is sensitive to their habitat needs. The purpose of this chapter is to identify fish and wildlife habitat conservation areas and establish habitat protection procedures and mitigation measures that are designed to result in no net loss of habitat functions and values. These areas are necessary for maintaining species in suitable habitats within their natural geographic distribution so that isolated subpopulations are not created as designated by WAC 365-190-080(5). (Ord. 17-513 § 3 (Exh. A)).

14.50.020 Fish and wildlife habitat conservation area identification and classification.

A. Designation. Fish and wildlife habitat conservation areas include:

1. Waters of the State. Waters of the state include lakes, rivers, ponds, streams, and all other surface waters and watercourses within jurisdiction of the state of Washington, as classified in WAC 222-16-030.

2. Areas with which federally designated endangered, threatened, and sensitive species have a primary association. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service should be consulted for current federal listing status.

3. Areas with which state designated endangered, threatened, and sensitive species have a primary association. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife should be consulted for current state listing status.

4. State priority habitats and areas associated with state priority species. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife should be consulted for current listing of priority habitats and species.

5. Habitats of and Species of Local Importance. The following fish and wildlife species and their associated habitat areas shall be regulated under this chapter:

a. Fish. Coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch), pink salmon (Oncorhynchus gorbuscha), chum salmon (Oncorhynchus keta), cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarkia), and steelhead (Oncorhynchus mykiss).

b. Birds. Great blue heron (Ardea herodias) and green heron (Butorides virescens).

c. Areas with which state-listed monitor or candidate fish or wildlife species or federally listed candidate fish or wildlife species have a primary association, and which if altered may reduce the likelihood that the species will survive and reproduce over the long term.

d. Heron rookeries.

6. Areas Not Included. Fish and wildlife habitat conservation areas do not include such artificial features or constructs as irrigation delivery systems, irrigation infrastructure, irrigation canals, or drainage ditches that lie within the boundaries of and are maintained by a port district or an irrigation district or company.

B. Habitat Boundary Survey. If the department determines that a regulated habitat conservation area may be present within the project vicinity, the department may require the habitat area to be delineated and/or mapped by a qualified fisheries biologist or wildlife biologist who is knowledgeable of fish and wildlife habitat within western Washington, or by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. The boundary of aquatic habitats shall be the ordinary high water mark of the water body. The management recommendations for Washington’s priority habitats and species or federal equivalent should be used as a tool for identifying and delineating wildlife habitat boundaries. The city may waive this requirement if there is adequate information available on the area proposed for development to determine the impacts of the proposed development and appropriate mitigating measures.

C. Mapping. The approximate location and extent of waters of the state and fish presence within the city are shown on maps maintained by the city. The city shall update the maps periodically as new information becomes available. The approximate location and extent of other fish and wildlife habitat conservation areas are shown on maps maintained by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and other state and federal agencies. These maps are to be used as a guide and do not provide definitive information about fish and wildlife habitat conservation area size or presence. Fish and wildlife habitat conservation areas may exist that do not appear on the maps.

D. Waters of the State Classification. The city hereby adopts the water typing system specified in WAC 222-16-030, as described below:

1. Type S. All waters, within their ordinary high water mark, meeting the criteria as “shorelines of the state” and “shorelines of statewide significance” under Chapter 90.58 RCW. As of the effective date of this title, there are no Type S streams within the city’s jurisdiction.

2. Type F. Segments of natural waters other than Type S waters, which are within the bankfull widths of defined channels and periodically inundated area of their associated wetlands, or within lakes, ponds, or impoundments having a surface area of 0.5 acre or greater at seasonal low water and which in any case contain fish habitat.

3. Type Np. All segments of natural waters within the bankfull width of defined channels that are perennial non-fish-habitat stream. Perennial stream waters do not go dry any time of a year of normal rainfall. However, for the purpose of water typing, Type Np waters include the intermittent dry portions of the perennial channel below the uppermost point of perennial flow.

4. Type Ns. All segments of natural waters within the bankfull width of the defined channels that are not Type S, F, or Np waters. These are seasonal, non-fish-habitat streams in which surface flow is not present for at least some portion of a year of normal rainfall and are not located downstream from any stream reach that is a Type Np water. Ns waters must be physically connected by an aboveground channel system to Type S, F, or Np waters. (Ord. 17-513 § 3 (Exh. A)).

14.50.030 Buffer standards – Fish and wildlife habitat conservation areas.

A. Determining Buffer Widths. Buffers shall be required as set forth for each habitat type. The required buffers shall be delineated, both on a site plan or plat, and on the property prior to approval of any regulated activity.

1. Aquatic Habitat Conservation Areas.

a. Buffers for aquatic habitat conservation areas shall be based upon the water type classification of the water body as specified in WAC 22-16-030. Refer to Table 14.50.030 for the water types and the associated buffer requirements.

b. The required buffer width shall be measured in all directions from the ordinary high water mark.

c. The required buffer shall be extended to include any adjacent regulated wetland, landslide hazard area, or erosion hazard area and their respective buffers.

2. Nonaquatic Habitat Conservation Areas. Appropriate buffers for critical habitat areas and species not listed in Table 14.50.030 shall be determined by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife or by a qualified wildlife biologist and documented in an approved habitat management plan.

Table 14.50.030

Buffer Standards

Water Type

Buffer Width1

Type S

150 ft.2

Type F

100 ft.

Type Np

60 ft.

Type Ns

35 ft.

1 In the event that buffers for any habitat conservation area or other critical area are contiguous or overlapping, the landward-most edge of all such buffers shall apply.

2 As of the effective date of this title, there are no Type S streams within the city’s jurisdiction.

B. Modification to Buffer Width Requirements. The standard buffer widths of subsection (A) of this section may be modified as follows:

1. Buffer Width Reductions. A buffer width reduction may be proposed through submittal of a habitat management plan. Buffer reductions of up to a maximum of 25 percent may be allowed when the applicant demonstrates the following circumstances:

a. Buffer encroachment is unavoidable.

b. The existing buffer is predominately unvegetated, composed of nuisance species, or is in an otherwise highly disturbed condition.

c. Buffer reduction with enhancement will provide equal or greater protection of current habitat functions and values and will not adversely affect salmon habitat.

d. The buffer reduction will not increase the risk of slope failure or downslope stormwater drainage impacts.

e. The minimum width of the buffer at any given point shall be at least 75 percent of the standard width, or 25 feet, whichever is greater.

f. The project includes a buffer enhancement plan as part of the mitigation required by EMC 14.50.070. The buffer enhancement plan shall use native plant species.

2. Buffer Width Increases. The department may require increased buffer width(s) when any of the following are identified:

a. A larger buffer is necessary to maintain viable populations of existing species or protect the existing functions of the habitat area;

b. The adjacent land is susceptible to severe erosion and erosion control measures will not effectively prevent adverse habitat impacts;

c. The adjacent land has minimal vegetative cover or slopes greater than 20 percent; or

d. The habitat area is in an area of high tree blow-down potential. In these cases the habitat area may be expanded an additional 50 feet on the windward side. (Ord. 17-513 § 3 (Exh. A)).

14.50.040 Fish and wildlife habitat conservation area review procedures.

A. Habitat Management Plan. If the department’s maps, sources, or field investigations indicate that the proposed project area is located within 300 feet of a known or suspected fish or wildlife habitat conservation area, then the applicant shall submit a habitat management plan prepared by a qualified fisheries biologist or wildlife biologist. The requirement to provide a habitat conservation plan for habitat conservation areas may be waived if the department determines that there are no potential direct or indirect impacts on designated species or habitats that would result from the proposed development activity. Habitat management plans shall comply with the requirements established in EMC 14.50.080, Appendix. (Ord. 17-513 § 3 (Exh. A)).

14.50.050 Allowed activities.

A. The following activities may be permitted in habitat conservation areas and/or their buffers when all reasonable measures have been taken to avoid and mitigate adverse effects on species and habitats and a net loss of habitat functions will not occur. In order to verify the following conditions, a habitat management plan meeting the requirements of EMC 14.50.080, Appendix, must be submitted.

1. Stream Erosion Control Measures. New or replacement stream erosion control measures shall be subject to the following standards:

a. The proposal complies with the provisions set forth in Chapter 14.110 EMC.

b. The required habitat management plan demonstrates the following:

i. Natural stream processes will be maintained. The project will not result in increased beach erosion or alterations to, or loss of, stream substrate within one-quarter mile of the site.

ii. The stream erosion control measure will not adversely impact fish or wildlife habitat conservation areas or associated wetlands.

2. Docks and Launching Ramps. Construction, reconstruction, repair, and maintenance of docks and public or private launching ramps are subject to all of the following:

a. The dock or ramp is located and oriented and constructed in a manner that minimizes adverse effects on water quality, movement of aquatic and terrestrial life, ecological processes, spawning habitat, and wetlands.

b. Docks and ramps shall meet or exceed all relevant state and federal permit requirements.

3. Roads, Trails, Bridges, and Rights-of-Way. Construction of trails, roadways, bridges, and culverts may be allowed subject to the following standards:

a. There is no other feasible alternative route with less impact on the environment.

b. The crossing minimizes interruption of downstream movement of wood, ice and gravel and the movement of all fish and wildlife.

c. Stream crossings, where necessary, shall only occur as near to the perpendicular with the stream as possible and be limited to the minimum width necessary.

d. Road bridges and culverts are designed according to the latest versions of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Water Crossing Design Guidelines (Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife) and the Anadromous Salmonid Passage Facility Design guidelines (National Marine Fisheries Service).

e. Trails and associated viewing platforms shall be made of pervious materials.

4. Utility Facilities. New utility lines and facilities are permitted to cross habitat conservation areas if they comply with the following standards:

a. Avoid fish and wildlife habitat conservation areas to the maximum extent possible.

b. Cross at an angle greater than 60 degrees to the centerline of the channel in streams or perpendicular to the channel centerline whenever boring under the channel is not feasible.

c. Crossings are contained within the footprint of an existing road or utility crossing where possible.

d. Avoid paralleling the stream or following a down-valley course near the channel.

e. Do not increase or decrease the natural rate of shore migration or channel migration.

f. Bore beneath the scour depth and hyporheic zone of the water body and channel migration zone (CMZ) where feasible.

5. Public Flood Protection Measures. New public flood protection measures and expansion of existing facilities may be approved, subject to the department’s review and approval of a habitat management plan.

6. Instream Structures. New instream structures (such as, but not limited to, high flow bypass, sediment ponds, instream ponds, retention and detention facilities, dams, weirs, etc.) shall be allowed only as part of an approved mitigation or restoration project or watershed basin plan approved by the department and upon acquisition of any required state or federal permits. The structure shall be designed to avoid modifying flows and water quality in ways that may adversely affect critical fish species. Proposals for placement of water quality, water quantity, or other instruments or structures within a stream to gather data, or as a mitigation measure, shall be exempt from the provisions of this title upon review and approval by the department.

7. Stormwater Conveyance Facilities. Conveyance structures whose sole purpose is to convey stormwater already treated for quality, or water bypassed around water quality treatment facilities pursuant to an approved stormwater plan, may be constructed subject to the following standards:

a. No other feasible alternatives with less impact exist;

b. Mitigation for impacts is provided;

c. Stormwater conveyance facilities shall incorporate fish habitat features;

d. Vegetation shall be maintained and, if necessary, added adjacent to all open channels and ponds in order to retard erosion, filter out sediments, and shade the water.

8. On-Site Sewage Systems and Wells.

a. New on-site sewage systems and individual wells are permitted if accessory to an approved structure.

b. Repairs to failing on-site sewage systems associated with an existing structure shall be accomplished by utilizing one of the following methods that result in the least impact:

i. Connection to an available public sewer system;

ii. Replacement with a new on-site sewage system located in a portion of the site that has already been disturbed by development and is located landward as far as possible, provided the proposed sewage system is in compliance with the provisions in Chapter 14.80 EMC; or

iii. Repair to the existing on-site septic system.

B. The activities listed below are allowed in habitat conservation areas and their buffers and do not require submission of a habitat management plan, except where such activities would result in a loss of the functions and values of habitat conservation areas or buffers.

1. Vegetation Removal, Disturbance, and Introduction. Limited vegetation removal shall be allowed subject to EMC 18.90.180, Tree preservation, and the following standards:

a. Hazard trees may be cut; provided, that:

i. The applicant submits a report from a certified arborist, licensed architect, or professional forester that documents the hazard and provides a replanting schedule for the replacement trees and receives written approval from the city authorizing the tree removal;

ii. Tree cutting shall be limited to limbing and crown thinning, unless otherwise justified by the landowner’s expert. Where limbing or crown thinning is not sufficient to address the hazard, trees should be topped to remove the hazard rather than cut at or near the base of the tree. All vegetation cuttings (tree stems, branches, tops, etc.) shall be left within the habitat area or buffer unless removal is warranted due to the potential for disease transmittal to other healthy vegetation;

iii. The landowner shall replace any trees that are felled or topped with new trees at a ratio of two replacement trees for each tree felled or topped. Tree species that are native and indigenous to the site shall be used;

iv. Hazard trees determined to pose an imminent threat or danger to public health or safety, or to public or private property, or serious environmental degradation may be removed or topped by the landowner prior to receiving written approval from the department; provided, that within 14 days following such action, the landowner shall submit the necessary report and replanting schedule demonstrating compliance with subsections (B)(1)(a)(i) through (iii) of this section.

b. Trimming of vegetation for purposes of providing a view corridor will be allowed. The trimming is limited to a maximum 20-foot width and the benefit to fish and wildlife habitat may not be reduced. No more than 30 percent of the live crown may be removed. Trimming shall be limited to hand pruning of branches and vegetation and does not include felling, topping, or the removal of trees.

2. Fencing. Fencing shall be placed in such a manner as to maintain wildlife movement corridors and not create any fish passage blockages. The department shall approve the location, type, and height of any proposed fencing. (Ord. 17-513 § 3 (Exh. A)).

14.50.060 Alteration of watercourses.

Any alteration of a watercourse shall comply with the following standards:

A. The city will notify adjacent communities and the Washington State Department of Ecology prior to any alteration or relocation of a watercourse proposed by the applicant and submit evidence of such notification to the Federal Insurance Administration.

B. The city shall require that maintenance be provided within the altered or relocated portion of said watercourse, so that the flood-carrying capacity is not diminished. Therefore, if the maintenance program calls for future cutting of planted native vegetation used in performing the alteration, the system shall be oversized at the time of construction to compensate for said vegetation growth or any other natural factor that may need future maintenance.

C. Alterations and relocations, including stabilization projects, shall not degrade fish habitat and shall be subject to the following provisions:

1. Structures that cross all watercourses and water bodies shall meet fish habitat requirements of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

2. Any culverts that are used on fish-bearing watercourses shall be arch/bottomless culverts or equivalent that provide comparable fish protection, and must meet fish habitat requirements of the latest edition of Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Design Manual for Culverts.

3. Bridges or other crossings shall allow for uninterrupted downstream movement of wood and gravel, be as close to perpendicular to the watercourse as possible, and be designed to minimize fill and to pass the base flood flows.

4. Watercourse alterations shall maintain natural meander patterns, channel complexity, and floodplain connectivity. Where feasible, such characteristics shall be restored as part of the watercourse alteration.

5. The applicant shall identify the channel migration zone for the watercourse at the project site and for a reasonable reach upstream and downstream of the site, and shall not undertake actions as part of the alteration that would in any way inhibit movement of the channel.

6. Existing culverts that do not meet fish habitat requirements shall be removed or replaced as part of the approved watercourse alteration project.

7. Watercourse alteration projects shall not result in a fish blockage of side channels. Known fish barriers into side channels shall be removed as part of the approved watercourse alteration project.

8. For any watercourse alteration of a Type S or F water pursuant to EMC 14.50.020(D) whose channel is subject to migration, bioengineered (soft) armoring of stream banks is required to allow for woody debris recruitment, gravels for spawning, and creation of side channels. The bioengineering technique used must be designed in accordance with the latest edition of Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Integrated Streambank Protection Guidelines.

D. The project engineer shall design the watercourse alteration so the activity does not increase the water surface elevation (zero-rise); decrease the capacity, storage, and conveyance of the watercourse; or cause an adverse impact to adjacent, cross-channel, or upstream or downstream properties. (Ord. 17-513 § 3 (Exh. A)).

14.50.070 Mitigation requirements.

A. Mitigation. Compensatory mitigation is required for all unavoidable alterations to fish and wildlife habitat conservation areas or their buffers. Mitigation of alteration to habitat areas shall achieve equivalent or greater biological functions. Mitigation shall address each functional attribute affected by the alteration to achieve functional equivalency or improvement on a per function basis. Mitigation elements to be addressed may include, but are not limited to: restoration of previously degraded areas and key habitat features, restoration of riparian vegetation communities to provide shade and large woody debris, addition of large woody debris, and installation of upland habitat features. All projects must first demonstrate compliance with EMC 14.10.070(B) prior to development of compensatory mitigation plans.

B. Type of Mitigation Required. In determining the extent and type of mitigation required, the department may consider all of the following:

1. The ecological processes that affect and influence habitat structure and function within the watershed or sub-basin;

2. The individual and cumulative effects of the action upon the functions of the critical area and associated watershed;

3. Observed or predicted trends regarding the gains or losses of specific habitats or species in the watershed, in light of natural and human processes;

4. The likely success of the proposed mitigation measures;

5. Effects of the mitigation actions on neighboring properties; and

6. Opportunities to implement restoration actions formally identified by an adopted shoreline restoration plan, watershed planning document prepared and adopted pursuant to Chapter 90.82 RCW, a salmonid recovery plan or project that has been identified on the Salmon Recovery Board habitat project list or by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife as essential for fish and wildlife habitat enhancement.

C. Location. Compensatory mitigation shall be provided on site or off site in the location that will provide the greatest ecological benefit to the species or habitats affected and have the greatest likelihood of success. Mitigation shall occur as close to the impact site as possible, within the same sub-basin, and in a similar habitat type as the permitted alteration. If the applicant submits a watershed- or landscape-based analysis that demonstrates mitigation within an alternative sub-basin of the same watershed would have greater ecological benefit, then the director may approve the demonstrated alternate mitigation.

D. Mitigation Plans. When required by this chapter, the applicant shall submit a fish and wildlife habitat conservation area mitigation plan meeting the requirements of this chapter. (Ord. 17-513 § 3 (Exh. A)).

14.50.080 Appendix.



A. A habitat management plan shall, at a minimum, include the following:

1. The general critical areas report requirements;

2. Identification of any endangered, threatened, sensitive, or candidate species that have a primary association with habitat on the project area;

3. Map showing the location of the ordinary high water mark and locations of wildlife habitat conservation area(s) and their buffers;

4. The vegetative, faunal, topographic, and hydrologic characteristics of the habitat conservation area;

5. A discussion of any federal, state, or local special management recommendations, including Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife habitat management recommendations, that have been developed for species or habitat located on or adjacent to the project area;

6. A detailed discussion of the direct and/or indirect potential impacts on the habitat conservation area by the project. Such discussion shall include a discussion of the ongoing management practices that will protect habitat after the project site has been developed;

7. Mitigation plan, if the activity will result in unavoidable impacts to habitat conservation areas. Mitigation measures may include:

a. Prohibition or limitation of use and development activities within the habitat conservation area;

b. Retention of vegetation and/or revegetation of areas/habitats critically important to species;

c. Special construction techniques;

d. Implementation of erosion and sediment control measures;

e. Habitat restoration or enhancement, i.e., fish passage barrier removal;

f. Seasonal restrictions on construction activities on the subject property;

g. Clustering of development activities on the subject property; and/or

h. Any other requirements and/or recommendations from federal, state, or local special management recommendations, including the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s habitat management guidelines. (Ord. 17-513 § 3 (Exh. A)).