Fish and Wildlife Habitat Conservation

updated 6-23-2023

Grays Harbor County (GHC) finds that critical areas provide a variety of valuable functions and values that benefit the citizens and economy of the county, and/or may pose a threat to human safety, or to public and private property.  

GHC regulates land uses to avoid adverse effects and impacts to streams and to also maintain the functions and values throughout the county.


  1. Contact a professional habitat biologist to determine whether your property has stream conservation buffers regulated by the GHC Critical Areas Protection Ordinance.

  2. The Forest Practices Application Mapping Tool is an online mapping service provided by the U.S. Department of Natural Resources.  This mapping tool indicates streams but is not survey accurate.  The absence of mapped streams does not ensure these features are not present.  GHC relies on ground conditions to determine if critical area regulations apply.

  3.  Visit our online Parcel Search tool.  Input an address, owners name, or parcel number. Or, navigate using the map by clicking and dragging.  From the map, select the "Change Layers" icon in the upper right hand corner and check "DNR Hydrology" to display a colored overlay.  The stream color indicates the designation which is detailed in the Legend.


Stream buffers can be as much as 150 feet or as little as 50 feet with an additional 10 foot building setback from the buffers edge.  A buffer is determined by the designation of the stream which is established by Grays Harbor County Code (GHCC) 18.06.590.   


GHC will accept work from a qualified professional who is a biologist with experience preparing reports for the relevant type of habitat (GHCC 18.06.610(A)).  Based on the professional’s determination, Planning staff can identify the standard buffer width per GHCC 18.06.630


GHC does not maintain a list of qualified consultants.  Below are links to other county maintained lists. During your search, please be mindful of the minimum qualification requirements listed above.  The Critical Area Report must be prepared consistent with GHCC 18.06.180 and 18.06.610.

*Disclaimer - Some consultants on these lists may not meet minimum qualifications per GHCC. Please discuss and verify qualifications with the consultant during your search.


  1. If critical areas are not identified within 300-feet of the proposed project area, the GHC will accept verification by letter or email from the Consultant.

  2. If critical areas are identified within 300-feet of the proposed project area, a Critical Area Report must be prepared consistent with GHCC 18.06.180 and 18.06.610.  The Report must be submitted to the GHC Planning Division with a Special Study Coversheet and review fee.


The permitting process begins with STEP 1: Site Plan Review.  The Report may be submitted concurrently with the Site Plan Review application otherwise the project will be placed on hold pending receipt and review of a Special Study (Critical Area Report).  Upon receipt of a complete submittal, the applicant will receive a letter with instructions outlining the next steps in the permitting process along with the necessary applications.  

Applications must be submitted through the Permit PortalPlease contact a Permit Coordinator if you have additional questions with the permitting process or would like to schedule an in-person submittal appointment.

Apply Online


18.06 Article VII -  Fish and Wildlife Habitat Conservation Areas  



Please contact a Permit Coordinator if you have further questions.

Grays Harbor County
Planning Division