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WAC 365-190-090

Wetlands.

(1) The wetlands of Washington state are fragile ecosystems that serve a number of important beneficial functions. Wetlands assist in reducing erosion, siltation, flooding, ground and surface water pollution, and provide wildlife, plant, and fisheries habitats. Wetlands destruction or impairment may result in increased public and private costs and property losses.
(2) In designating wetlands for regulatory purposes, counties and cities must use the definition of wetlands in RCW 36.70A.030. Counties and cities are requested and encouraged to make their actions consistent with the intent and goals of "protection of wetlands," Executive Orders 89-10 and 90-04 as they existed on September 1, 1990. Additionally, counties and cities should consider wetlands protection guidance provided by the department of ecology, including the management recommendations based on the best available science, mitigation guidance, and provisions addressing the option of using wetland mitigation banks.
(3) Wetlands rating systems. Wetland functions vary widely.
(a) When designating wetlands, counties and cities should use a rating system that evaluates the existing wetland functions and values to determine what functions must be protected.
(b) In developing wetlands rating systems, counties and cities should consider using the wetland rating system developed jointly by the department of ecology and the United States Army Corps of Engineers.
(c) If a county or city chooses to use an alternative rating system, it must include the best available science.
(d) A rating system should evaluate, at a minimum, the following factors:
(i) Wetlands functions and values;
(ii) Degree of sensitivity to disturbance;
(iii) Rarity;
(iv) The degree to which a wetland contributes to functions and values of a larger ecosystem. Rating systems should generally rate wetlands higher when they are well-connected to adjacent or nearby habitats, are part of an intact ecosystem or function in a network of critical areas; and
(v) The ability to replace the functions and values through compensatory mitigation.
(4) Counties and cities may use the National Wetlands Inventory and a landscape-scale watershed characterization as information sources for determining the approximate distribution and extent of wetlands. The National Wetlands Inventory is an inventory providing maps of wetland areas according to the definition of wetlands issued by the United States Department of Interior Fish and Wildlife Service. A landscape-scale watershed characterization may identify areas that are conducive to forming wetlands based on topography, soils and geology, and hydrology. Any potential locations of wetlands based on the National Wetlands Inventory or landscape-scale watershed characterization should be confirmed by field visits, either before or as part of permitting activities, and identified wetlands should have their boundaries delineated for regulation consistent with the wetlands definition in RCW 36.70A.030.
(5) Counties and cities must use the methodology for regulatory delineations in the adopted state manual identified in RCW 36.70A.175.
[Statutory Authority: RCW 36.70A.050 and 36.70A.190. WSR 10-03-085, ยง 365-190-090, filed 1/19/10, effective 2/19/10.]
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