Grays Harbor County (GHC) recognizes and seeks to protect the beneficial functions performed by many wetlands, which include, but are not limited to providing food, breeding, nesting and/or rearing habitat for fish and wildlife; recharging and discharging ground water; contributing to stream flow during low flow periods; stabilizing stream banks and shorelines; storing storm and flood waters to reduce flooding and erosion; and improving water quality through biofiltration, adsorption, and retention and transformation of sediments, nutrients, and toxicants.
GHC regulates land uses to avoid adverse effects and impacts to wetlands and to also maintain the functions and values throughout the county.
Are there wetlands on my property?
- Contact a professional wetland scientist to determine whether your property has wetlands or wetland conservation buffers that are regulated by the GHC Critical Areas Protection Ordinance.
- The National Wetlands Inventory Mapper is an online mapping service provided by the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife. This mapping tool indicates the presence of wetland areas but is not survey accurate. The absence of mapped wetlands do not ensure that wetland areas are not present. GHC relies on ground conditions to determine if Critical Area regulations apply.
- Visit the Assessors online Mapsifter search tool. Input an address, owner name, or parcel number, then click search. From the aerial map, select "Legend" in the lower left hand corner to expand the menu then select the "Wetlands" layer for a colored overlay to populate the map (this may take a few moments to display). This layer is not survey accurate. GHC relies on ground conditions to determine if Critical Area regulations apply.
BUFFERS & SETBACKS
Wetland buffers can be as much as 300 feet or as little as 40 feet with an additional 10 foot building setback from the buffers edge. A buffer is determined by the Category and Habitat Score of the wetland which is established by a qualified consultant in the private sector. GHC Code (GHCC) requires that a qualified professional wetland scientist with at least two years of full-time work experience as a wetland professional determine site conditions.
WHO IS A QUALIFIED PROFESSIONAL WETLAND SCIENTIST?
GHC will accept work from a professional wetland scientist with at least two years of full-time work experience as a wetlands professional, including delineating wetlands using the federal manual and supplements, preparing wetlands reports, conducting function assessments, and developing and implementing mitigation plans (GHCC 18.06.370).
The Washington State Department of Ecology provides further guidance regarding professional wetland scientist here. Based on the professional’s determination, Planning Staff can identify the standard buffer width per GHCC.
LIST OF CONSULTANTS
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 18.06.370.
*Disclaimer - Some consultants on these lists may not meet minimum qualifications per GHCC. Please discuss and verify qualifications with the consultant during your search.DETERMINATION
- 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.
- 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 18.06.370. 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 wetland 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 GHC Permit Portal. Please contact a Permit Coordinator if you have additional questions with the permitting process or would like to schedule an in-person submittal appointment at 360-249-4222.
18.06 Article III - Development Standards for Wetland Areas
STILL HAVE QUESTIONS?
Please contact a Permit Coordinator at 360-249-4222 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have further questions.
Grays Harbor County