County Council Review

Updated December 7, 2017
The County Council has completed it's review and adopted a revised CAO on December 5, 2017. The new code will be in effect on December 15, 2017.

Please note that the new CAO only pertains to those areas of the County not within the Shoreline jurisdiction of the Shoreline Management Plan (200' inland of Waters of the State). For those areas within the Shoreline jurisdiction, the existing (2005) CAO will still govern until the Dept. of Ecology approves a limited amendment to the Shoreline Management Plan updating the date of the referenced CAO. This is anticipated to take 3-6 months.

Adopted Documents

  • Exhibit A – The adopted Critical Areas Ordinance code (clean copy)
  • Exhibit A – The adopted Critical Areas Ordinance code (marked up copy showing amendments)
  • Exhibit BWhatcom County Critical Areas Ordinance Best Available Science Review and Recommendations for Code Update, 2005
  • Exhibit CWhatcom County Critical Areas Ordinance 2017 Update Best Available Science Review: Addendum to the 2005 BAS Report (as of 11/2/17)

Council Review Schedule

Date: Before the: Topic:
9/20/16 (day) COTW Overview
10/25/16 (evening) County Council • Public Hearing
1/10/17 (day) COTW • Art 2 – Administrative Provisions
​• Art 1 – Purpose
​• Art 5 – Critical Aquifer Recharge Areas
​• Art 5.5 – Lummi Island
​• Art 9 – Definitions
1/24/17 (day) COTW • Art 4 – Frequently Flooded Areas
​• Art 7 – Habitat Conservation Areas
2/7/17 (day) COTW • Art 6 – Wetlands
​• Art 8 – Conservation Program on Agriculture Lands
2/21/17 (day) COTW • Art 3 – Geologically Hazardous Areas
3/7/17 (day) COTW Review of Council suggestions and outstanding issues
3/21/17 (day) COTW Review of Council suggestions and outstanding issues
4/4/17 (day) COTW Review of Council suggestions and outstanding issues
4/18/17 (day) COTW Review of Council suggestions and outstanding issues
5/2/17 (day) COTW Review of Council suggestions and outstanding issues
5/16/17 (day) COTW Review of Council suggestions and outstanding issues
5/30/17 (day) COTW Review of Council suggestions and outstanding issues
6/13/17 (day) COTW Review of Council suggestions and outstanding issues
6/27/17 (day) COTW Review of Council suggestions and outstanding issues
7/11/17 (day) COTW Review of Council suggestions and outstanding issues
7/25/17 (day) COTW Review of Council suggestions and outstanding issues
8/8/17 (day) COTW Review of Council suggestions and outstanding issues
9/12/17 (day) COTW Review of Council suggestions and outstanding issues
9/26/17 (day) COTW Review of Council suggestions and outstanding issues
10/10/17 (evening) County Council Introduction of ordinance (Note: The Council chose not to introduce the ordinance and instead requested another workshop.)
10/24/17 (day) COTW ​Council Workshop on remaining issues
11/8/17 (day) COTW Council Workshop on remaining issues and Council suggestions
11/21/17 (day) COTW Council Workshop on remaining issues and Council suggestions
11/21/17 (evening) County Council Introduction of ordinance
12/5/17 (evening) County Council Public Hearing #2 and adoption of the ordinance

Best Available Science Documents

Ref# Author Document Name
1 FEMA NFIP Floodplain Management Requirements A Study Guide & Desk Reference for Local Officials
2 NMFS/USFW Endangered Species Act − Section 7 Consultation, Final Biological Opinion
3 WSDOT/ECY A Framework for Delineating Channel Migration Zones
4 Whatcom County Erosion and Avulsion Hazard Mapping and Methodologies for use in the Nooksack River Channel Migration Zone Mapping
5 Marton, et al. Geographically Isolated Wetlands are Important Biogeochemical Reactors on the Landscape
6 USACE, ECY, & WDFW Interagency Regulatory Guide: Advance Permittee-Responsible Mitigation
7 USEPA Connectivity of Streams & Wetlands to Downstream Waters: A Review & Synthesis of the Scientific Evidence
8 USFW National Wetland Inventory maps for the Puget Sound Region
9 Van Meter and Basu Signatures of human impact: size distributions and spatial organization of wetlands in the Prairie Pothole landscape
10 ECY Wetlands in Washington State - Volume 1: A Synthesis of the Science
11 ECY Wetlands in Washington State - Volume 2: Guidance for Protecting and Managing Wetlands
12 ECY Making Mitigation Work: The Report of the Mitigation that Works Forum
13 ECY Update on Wetland Buffers: The State of the Science
14 ECY Wetland Rating Form for Western Washington
15 ECY Wetlands in Washington State Volume 2, Appendix 8-C: Guidance on Widths of Buffers and Ratios for Compensatory Mitigation for Use with the Western Washington Wetland Rating System
16 ECY Washington State Wetland Program Plan, 2015
17 Nelson Mapping Biodiversity in Whatcom County: Data & Methods
18 NOAA Fisheries Critical habitat maps
19 USFW Critical Habitat Maps and List of Threatened and Endangered Species
20 ECY Puget Sound Characterization Project
21 WDFW Local Habitat Assessment for Whatcom County
22 WDFW High Resolution Change Detection Project - Land cover Change by Subbasin for Whatcom County
23 WDFW Priority Habitats and Species (PHS) Database
24 DNR Washington Natural Heritage Database
25 Whatcom County Significant Wildlife Areas, Whatcom County
26 Haddad, et al. On Experimentation and the Study of Corridors: Response to Beier and Noss
27 Noss & Beier Arguing over the Little Things: Response to Haddad et al.
28 Rosenberg, et al. Towards a Definition of Biological Corridor
29 Rosenberg, et al. Biological Corridors: Form, Function, and Efficacy
30 ECONorthwest The Economic Value of Beaver Ecosystem Services
31 Pollock, et al. Using Beaver Dams to Restore Incised Stream Ecosystems
32 Pollock, et al. The Beaver Restoration Guidebook: Working with Beaver to Restore Streams, Wetlands, and Floodplains
33 Walker, et al. An Innovative Solution for Water Storage and Increased Late Summer Flows in the Columbia River Basin
34 FEMA Floodplain Habitat Assessment and Mitigation: Regional Guidance for the Puget Sound Basin
35 Judge 2011 Implementation Status Assessment Report: A Qualitative Assessment of Implementation of the Puget Sound Chinook Salmon Recovery Plan
36 Penttila Marine Forage Fishes in Puget Sound
37 Small, et al. Temporal and Spatial Genetic Structure among Some Pacific Herring Populations in Puget Sound and the Southern Strait of Georgia
38 WDFW Land Use Planning for Salmon, Steelhead, and Trout
39 WDFW 2012 Washington State Herring Stock Status Report, June 2014
40 Brennan Marine Riparian Vegetation Communities of Puget Sound
41 Cereghino, et al. Strategies for nearshore protection and restoration in Puget Sound
42 Clancy, et al. Management Measures for Protecting the Puget Sound Nearshore
43 Dethier Native Shellfish in Nearshore Ecosystems of Puget Sound
44 Finlayson The geomorphology of Puget Sound beaches
45 Fresh Juvenile Pacific Salmon in Puget Sound
46 Fresh, et al. Guidance for protection and restoration of the nearshore ecosystems of Puget Sound
47 Fresh, et al. Implications of Observed Anthropogenic Changes to the Nearshore Ecosystems in Puget Sound
48 Gelfenbaum, et al. Coastal Habitats in Puget Sound: A research plan in support of the Puget Sound Nearshore Partnership
49 Gleason, et al. A Conservation Assessment of West Coast (USA) Estuaries
50 Goetz, et al. Guiding restoration principles
51 Greiner Principles for Strategic Conservation and Restoration
52 Johannessen and MacLennan Beaches and Bluffs of Puget Sound
53 Kriete Orcas in Puget Sound
54 Lanksbury, Niewolny, Carey, and West Toxic Contaminants in Puget Sound’s Nearshore Biota: A Large-Scale Synoptic Survey Using Transplanted Mussels (Mytilus trossulus)
55 Leschine and Petersen Valuing Puget Sound’s Valued Ecosystem Components
56 Mumford Kelp and Eelgrass in Puget Sound
57 Schlenger, et al. Strategic Needs Assessment: Analysis of Nearshore Ecosystem Process Degradation in Puget Sound
58 Shipman A Geomorphic Classification of Puget Sound Nearshore Landforms
59 Simenstad, et al. Historical Change & Impairment of Puget Sound Shorelines
60 Van Cleve, et al. Application of “best available science” in ecosystem restoration: lessons learned from large-scale restoration eff orts in the USA
61 Bogan, Hwan, & Carlson High Aquatic Biodiversity in an Intermittent Coastal Headwater Stream at Golden Gate National Recreation Area, CA
62 Brown, Maudlin, & Hansen Nooksack River Estuary Habitat Assessment
63 US EPA Connectivity of Streams & Wetlands to Downstream Waters: A Review & Synthesis of the Scientific Evidence
64 WDFW Landscape Planning for Washington’s Wildlife: Managing for Biodiversity in Developing Areas
65 Carey & Cummings Sumas-Blaine Aquifer Nitrate Contamination Summary
66 Bentrup Conservation buffers: design guidelines for buffers, corridors, and greenways
67 Cox & Kahle Hydrogeology, groundwater quality, and sources of nitrate in lowland glacial aquifers of Whatcom County, Washington, and British Columbia, Canada
68 WWGMHB WEAN v Island County, Final Decision & Order
69 Island County Planning and Community Development Letter to the Island County Planning Commission from Assistant Director Jeff Tate, explaining their review of NRCS Best Management Practices constituting Best Available Science
70 Redding, Carey, & Sinclair Nitrate Contamination in the Sumas-Blaine Aquifer, Whatcom County, Washington
71 Thurston County Superior Court WEAN v WWGMHB et al Letter Opinion
72 USDA, NRCS Field Office Technical Guide (FOTG)
73 US EPA Risk Assessment Evaluation for Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations
74 WA Dept. of Commerce, Growth Management Services Letter from Leonard Bauer to Phil Bakke regarding Agricultural uses in Island County and Memorandum on use of NRCS BMPs to Protect Critical Areas
75 Barnard, et all. Water Crossings Design Guidelines
76 Harris CAO Exemptions for Passive Low Impact Activities
77 Porter, Jakob, & Holm Risk-based landslide safety assessments in Canada
78 Porter & Morgenstern Landslide Risk Evaluation – Canadian Technical Guidelines and Best Practices related to Landslides: a national initiative for loss reduction
79 Guthrie, et al. The 6 August 2010 Mount Meager rock slide-debris flow, Coast Mountains, British Columbia: characteristics, dynamics, and implications for hazard and risk assessment
80 Whatcom County Whatcom County Natural Hazards Mitigation Plan
81 CPS GMHB Tahoma Audubon Society, People For Puget Sound, and Citizens For A Healthy Bay v. Pierce County, Park Junction Partners, and Snohomish County, Final
82 Whatcom Conservation District Dept. of Ecology EIM Well Data Analysis
83 Adamus Wetland functions: not only about size
84 Detenbeck SLOSS (single large or several small) or not? Factoring wetland size into decisions for wetland conservation, enhancement, restoration, and creation
85 Semlitsch, et al. Small, clustered wetlands promote amphibian persistence
86 Gibbs Importance of small wetlands for the persistence of local populations of wetland-associated animals
87 Richter & Azous Amphibian occurrence and wetland characteristics in the Puget Sound Basin
88 Raisin The role of small wetlands in catchment management: Their effect on diffuse agricultural pollutants
89 Semlitsch & Bodie Are small isolated wetlands expendable?
90 Gaines, Singleton & Ross Assessing the cumulative effects of linear recreation routes on wildlife habitats on the Okanogan and Wenatchee National Forests
91 Redding Nitrate Trends in the Central Sumas-Blaine Surficial Aquifer
92 Koeser, et al. Tree Risk Assessment Methods: A Comparison of Three Common Evaluation Forms
93 Carey Sumas-Blaine Aquifer Long-Term Groundwater Quality Monitoring, 2009-2016

Comments Received by Staff Prior to Planning Commission Review

Member of: Name
CAC A. Borders
CAC K. Blystone
CAC L. Sachs
CAC R. Almskaar
CAC V. Watson
CAC W. Harris
CAC W. Kentch
TAC B. Rubash
TAC D. McShane
TAC J. Ingram
TAC K. Kuhlman
TAC O. Grah
TAC R. Ericson
TAC S. Meyer
TAC W. Steffensen
Public G. Boggs
Public Various
Staff A. Dearborn
Staff A. Wiser
Staff C. Elder
Staff C. Strong
Staff E. Page
Staff J. Thompson
Staff M. Kershner
Staff M. Mahaffie
Staff R. Ericson
Staff T. Bouma
Staff W. Fitch