Chapter 19D.170


19D.170.010    Purpose.

19D.170.020    Applicability.

19D.170.030    Definitions.

19D.170.040    Open Space Priorities.

Cross Reference:    Sections 36.70A.070 and 36.70A.160 RCW, and PCC 19A.30.170.

19D.170.010 Purpose.

It is the purpose of this Chapter to encourage the retention of open space through implementation of open space policies set forth in the Pierce County Comprehensive Plan. The prioritization of open space resources, as provided by this Chapter, provides a consistent and unified framework for future open space acquisition, dedication, and tax relief actions within Pierce County. (Ord. 98-2 § 1 (part), 1998)

19D.170.020 Applicability.

County programs which provide for preservation of open space shall have established priorities. The rating of priorities for such programs is set forth in this Chapter. The priorities shall be used when rating open space proposals for the following County programs or established regulatory authority:

A.    Conservation Futures funding;

B.    Open space current use assessment taxation;

C.    Amount of density incentive authorized under Title 18A, Development Regulations – Zoning for dedication of open space; and

D.    Other County programs which acquire or preserve open space areas.

(Ord. 98-2 § 1 (part), 1998)

19D.170.030 Definitions.

A.    "Archaeologic Sites" means geographical locations, including those lands that are submerged and submersible and the bed of the sea that contain archeological objects, that comprise the physical evidence of an indigenous and subsequent culture including material remains of past human life including monuments, symbols, tools, facilities, and technological by-products. Archeological sites may contain prehistoric, historic archeological resources or both. Confidentiality of locations may be required of archeological sites.

B.    "Agricultural Land" means land primarily devoted to the current production of horticultural, viticultural, floricultural, dairy, apiary, vegetable, or animal products or of berries, grain, hay, straw, turf, seed, Christmas trees not subject to the excise tax imposed by RCW 84.33.100 through 84.33.140, or livestock, and which has significance for agricultural production. Also land that has been traditionally in or is still capable of production of the above as demonstrated by sales receipts, income tax statements, or other materials which the Department accepts as proof that farming once occurred on the property and the property could be returned to highly productive commercial agriculture, conservation plans, and farm plans which include a water protection plan that shall be reviewed and approved by the conservation district prior to granting.

C.    "Aquifer Recharge Areas" means land areas where the prevailing geologic conditions allow infiltration rates which create a high potential for contamination of groundwater resources or contribute to the replenishment of groundwater.

D.    "Critical Salmon Habitat" means:

1.    The specific areas within the geographical area occupied by the species, at the time it is listed in accordance with the provisions of Section 4 of the Federal Endangered Species Act, on which are found those physical or biological features:

a.    Essential to the conservation of the species; and

b.    Which may require special management considerations or protection; and

2.    Specific areas outside the geographical area occupied by the species at the time it is listed in accordance with the provisions of Section 4 of the Federal Endangered Species Act, upon a determination by the national Secretary of the Interior and/or Commerce that such areas are essential for the conservation of the species.

E.    "Fish and Wildlife Habitat Conservation Areas" means those areas identified as being of critical importance to maintenance of fish and wildlife species including: areas with which endangered, threatened, and sensitive species have a primary association; habitats and species of local importance; commercial and recreational shellfish areas; kelp and eelgrass beds; herring and smelt spawning areas; naturally occurring ponds under twenty acres and their submerged aquatic beds that provide fish or wildlife habitat; state natural area preserves, natural resource conservation areas; and land located within the Pierce County Biodiversity Network as identified in the Pierce County Biodiversity Network Assessment report dated August 2004.

F.    "Flood Hazard Areas" means land in a floodplain within Pierce County subject to a 0.2 percent or greater chance of flooding in any given year (500-year floodplain).

G.    "Historic Landmark Sites" means locations strongly associated with significant prehistoric or historic events or patterns of events and well documented through scholarly research. Historic landmark sites may include archeological sites.

H.    "Lakes" means all freshwater impoundments and their undeveloped shoreline areas.

I.    "Landslide Hazard Areas (Steep Slopes)" means areas potentially subject to risk of mass movement due to a combination of geologic, topographic, and hydrologic factors.

J.    "Marine Waters" means Puget Sound and its associated undeveloped shoreline areas.

K.    "Prairie Land" means open areas predominated by native, drought-resistant grasses, forbs (flowering non-woody plants), and herbs. In Pierce County, prairies are an unusual vegetation regime found in areas of extremely well-drained soils.

L.    "Private Open Space Passive Recreation Areas" means open space areas where public use and access is desired and improvements will enhance public accessibility to the natural resources available at the site. County open space parks as found in the County's Capital Facilities Plan Element of the Comprehensive Plan are included.

M.    "Private Parks and Private Golf Courses with Developed Facilities" means a private park or golf course designed for organized activities and sports, although individual and family activities are also encouraged.

N.    "Private Trails and Corridors" means private trails and corridors that are used for hiking, biking, walking, horseback riding, and jogging. The trails may vary in scale and surfacing and may also be used as a means of non-motorized transportation connecting one destination point to another. Potentially, trails may include areas providing linkages between trails, abandoned rail lines, utility corridors, vacant rights-of-way, and road endings.

O.    "Privately Owned and Operated Recreational Facilities" means profit or non-profit recreation which is open for recreational sporting activities.

P.    "Scenic Corridors" means an area of adjoining parcels which individually may be less than one acre but which, when combined, total at least one acre and create a view corridor critical to maintaining a view of a scenic resource visible from a federally- or state-designated scenic highway which is visually significant to the aesthetic character of the County.

Q.    "Scenic View Point" means property adjacent to a federally- or state-designated scenic highway or other officially designated view point that provides a view of an area which is visually significant to the aesthetic character of the County and which provides unlimited public access identified by a permanent sign readily visible from the road. View points may be officially designated by the State of Washington, Pierce County, or a city or town.

R.    "Seismic Hazard Areas" means those areas subject to severe risk of damage as a result of earthquake induced ground shaking, slope failure, settlement, or soil liquefaction.

S.    "Streams" means a flow of water conveyed in a channel or course either continuously or intermittently, and the water's associated buffer.

T.    "Volcanic Hazard Areas" means those areas subject to pyroclastic flows, lava flows, and inundation by debris flows, mudflows, or related flooding resulting from geologic or volcanic events on Mount Rainier.

U.    "Wetlands, Estuaries, and Tidal Marshes" means areas that are inundated or saturated by surface or groundwater at a frequency sufficient to support vegetation typically adapted for life in saturated soil conditions, and associated buffer areas. Wetlands generally include swamps, marshes, bogs, and similar areas.

V.    "Wooded Areas" means a lot over one acre in size in the urban area or over five acres in size in a rural area with a minimum width of 300 feet on which is found a mature stand of coniferous or deciduous trees and native plant understory. The wooded area must serve a demonstrated functional purpose in climate, noise, light, habitat, or pollution control.

(Ord. 2009-45s § 1 (part), 2009; Ord. 2004-112s § 3 (part), 2004; Ord. 98-2 § 1 (part), 1998)

19D.170.040 Open Space Priorities.

The County considers all of the open space resources identified in this Chapter important to the health, safety, and welfare of Pierce County citizens. To more efficiently use County open space preservation tools, priorities must be established. It is recognized there may be funding opportunities or open space availability that warrant temporary shifts in acquisition priorities; however, as a guide, the following priorities are hereby established:

High Priority


• Critical Salmon Habitat

• Agricultural Lands

• Fish and Wildlife Habitat Conservation Areas

• Marine Waters

• Streams

• Wetlands, Estuaries, and Tidal Marshes

• Wooded Areas

• Prairie Land

• Tracts that provide linkage and access to said open space areas

Medium Priority


• Aquifer Recharge Areas

• Flood Hazard Areas

• Lakes

• Private Open Space Passive Recreation Areas

• Privately Owned and Operated Recreational Facilities

• Private Trails and Corridors

• Archaeological Sites

• Historic Landmark Sites

• Tracts that provide linkage and access to said open space areas

Low Priority


• Landslide Hazard Areas (Steep Slopes)

• Scenic View Points and Corridors

• Seismic Hazard Areas

• Volcanic Hazard Areas

• Private Parks and Private Golf Courses with Developed Facilities

• Tracts that provide linkage and access to said open space areas

(Ord. 2009-45s § 1 (part), 2009; Ord. 2004-112s § 3 (part), 2004; Ord. 98-2 § 1 (part), 1998)