36.70A.705  <<  36.70A.710 >>   36.70A.715

RCW 36.70A.710

Critical areas protection—Alternative to RCW 36.70A.060—County's responsibilities—Procedures.

(1)(a) As an alternative to protecting critical areas in areas used for agricultural activities through development regulations adopted under RCW 36.70A.060, the legislative authority of a county may elect to protect such critical areas through the program.
(b) In order to participate in the program, within six months after July 22, 2011, the legislative authority of a county must adopt an ordinance or resolution that:
(i) Elects to have the county participate in the program;
(ii) Identifies the watersheds that will participate in the program; and
(iii) Based on the criteria in subsection (4) of this section, nominates watersheds for consideration by the commission as state priority watersheds.
(2) Before adopting the ordinance or resolution under subsection (1) of this section, the county must (a) confer with tribes, and environmental and agricultural interests; and (b) provide notice following the public participation and notice provisions of RCW 36.70A.035 to property owners and other affected and interested individuals, tribes, government agencies, businesses, school districts, and organizations.
(3) In identifying watersheds to participate in the program, a county must consider:
(a) The role of farming within the watershed, including the number and acreage of farms, the economic value of crops and livestock, and the risk of the conversion of farmland;
(b) The overall likelihood of completing a successful program in the watershed; and
(c) Existing watershed programs, including those of other jurisdictions in which the watershed has territory.
(4) In identifying priority watersheds, a county must consider the following:
(a) The role of farming within the watershed, including the number and acreage of farms, the economic value of crops and livestock, and the risk of the conversion of farmland;
(b) The importance of salmonid resources in the watershed;
(c) An evaluation of the biological diversity of wildlife species and their habitats in the geographic region including their significance and vulnerability;
(d) The presence of leadership within the watershed that is representative and inclusive of the interests in the watershed;
(e) Integration of regional watershed strategies, including the availability of a data and scientific review structure related to all types of critical areas;
(f) The presence of a local watershed group that is willing and capable of overseeing a successful program, and that has the operational structures to administer the program effectively, including professional technical assistance staff, and monitoring and adaptive management structures; and
(g) The overall likelihood of completing a successful program in the watershed.
(5) Except as otherwise provided in subsection (9) of this section, beginning with the effective date of the ordinance or resolution adopted under subsection (1) of this section, the program applies to all unincorporated property upon which agricultural activities occur within a participating watershed.
(6)(a) Except as otherwise provided in (b) of this subsection, within two years after July 22, 2011, a county must review and, if necessary, revise development regulations adopted under this chapter to protect critical areas as they specifically apply to agricultural activities:
(i) If the county has not elected to participate in the program, for all unincorporated areas; or
(ii) If the county has elected to participate in the program, for any watershed not participating in the program.
(b) A county that between July 1, 2003, and June 30, 2007, in accordance with RCW 36.70A.130 completed the review of its development regulations as required by RCW 36.70A.130 to protect critical areas as they specifically apply to agricultural activities is not required to review and revise its development regulations until required by RCW 36.70A.130.
(c) After the review and amendment required under (a) of this subsection, RCW 36.70A.130 applies to the subsequent review and amendment of development regulations adopted under this chapter to protect critical areas as they specifically apply to agricultural activities.
(7)(a) A county that has made the election under subsection (1) of this section may withdraw a participating watershed from the program by adopting an ordinance or resolution withdrawing the watershed from the program. A county may withdraw a watershed from the program at the end of three years, five years, or eight years after receipt of funding, or any time after ten years from receipt of funding.
(b) Within eighteen months after withdrawing a participating watershed from the program, the county must review and, if necessary, revise its development regulations that protect critical areas in that watershed as they specifically apply to agricultural activities. The development regulations must protect the critical area functions and values as they existed on July 22, 2011. RCW 36.70A.130 applies to the subsequent review and amendment of development regulations adopted under this chapter to protect critical areas as they specifically apply to agricultural activities.
(8) A county that has made the election under subsection (1) of this section is eligible for a share of the funding made available to implement the program, subject to funding availability from the state.
(9) A county that has made the election under subsection (1) of this section is not required to implement the program in a participating watershed until adequate funding for the program in that watershed is provided to the county.
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