1. Purpose and Objectives. The City of George recognizes the importance of protecting Fish and Wildlife Habitat Conservation Areas that are located within the City boundaries or that may annex into the City while at the same time encouraging continued economic development of the City, including the continuation of agriculture. Implementation of this section is directed toward preserving resources by steering incompatible development away from these areas and/or by providing adequate and appropriate mitigation measures to development that alleviate negative impacts. The following reflect the goals and policies of the community:
2. Goal. Protect fish and wildlife habitat areas as important natural resource areas.
A. The City will consider the impacts of new development on the quality of land, wildlife and vegetative resources as part of its environmental review process and require any appropriate mitigation measures.
B. Land uses adjacent to naturally occurring ponds and other fish and wildlife habitat areas will not negatively impact the habitat areas. If a change in land use occurs, adequate buffers based on the best available science will be provided to protect the habitat areas.
A. The following objectives are the guiding factors in the application of this section to future development in the City of George:
B. Identify and map categories of fish and wildlife habitat conservation areas, based in part on information supplied by Washington Department of Wildlife’s Priority Habitat and Species Program, and other sources.
C. Use best available science.
D. Cooperate with federal, state and private agencies, and individuals who have primary authority to manage specific fish and wildlife habitat conservation areas within certain parts of the City.
E. Encourage preservation of adequate size blocks of land necessary for species survival and corridor areas that allow for migratory travel.
F. The City recognizes that species of wildlife in this locality are in a state of continuing flux, and a prudent understanding of this phenomenon is vital in guiding decision- makers to balance conservation of wildlife species with promotion of wise, desirable growth.
G. Development decisions will serve to protect local wildlife needs and reflect the values and desires of the public.
H. The City recognizes the need for a degree of flexibility in weighing the significance of different areas of fish and wildlife habitat conservation. Specifically, the magnitude of protection for “Priority Habitat Areas” is anticipated to be more pronounced than that which addresses “Important Habitat Areas”.
5. Identification. According to WAC 365-190-080, Fish and Wildlife Habitat Conservation means “land management for maintaining species in suitable habitat within their natural geographical distribution so that isolated subpopulations are not created. This does not mean maintaining all individuals of all species and all times, but it does mean cooperative and coordinated land use planning is critically important among counties and cities in a region. In some cases, intergovernmental cooperation and coordination may show that it is sufficient to assure a species will usually be found in certain regions across the state.”
A. Areas of Fish and Wildlife Habitat Conservation are defined as:
1. Areas with which federal or state endangered, threatened and sensitive species of fish, wildlife or plants have a primary association; or
2. Habitats and species of local importance, which could include areas with state listed monitor or candidate species, or federally listed candidate species, or species with high recreational value (game, etc.) that have primary association; or
3. Naturally occurring ponds under twenty (20) acres and their submerged aquatic beds that provide fish or wildlife habitat; or
4. Waters of the state; or
5. Lakes, ponds, streams and rivers planted with game fish by a governmental entity; (these include water bodies planted under auspices of a federal, state or local program, or which support important fish species as identified by Washington Department of Wildlife); or
6. Federal, state and private natural area preserves and natural resource conservation areas.
B. The City of George allows for the nomination of “Species/Habitats of Local Importance”, which process shall be included in the amendment process identified in section 17.25.090. In order to nominate “Species/Habitats of Local Importance” as candidates for designation within the category of Important Habitat Areas, an individual or organization must:
1. Demonstrate a need for special consideration;
2. Propose relevant management strategies considered effective and within the scope of this chapter;
3. Provide species habitat location(s) on a map (scale 1:24,000).
C. In order to accommodate the needs and desires of the residents, public input shall be required to include species and/or habitats in the “Important Habitat Area” classification identified in this section. Where the habitats and species classified as “Priority Habitat Area” are responsive, concurrently, with official changes in federal and/or state threatened or endangered listings/de-listings, to include or un-include species and/or habitats in the “Important Habitat Area” classification, these regulations must be amended through a formal process for nomination as described in this regulation.
D. There are no “anadromous fisheries” within the City of George
6. Classification. Fish and wildlife habitat conservation areas will be classified and designated as follows, based on a variety of data sources as identified herein:
A. Priority Habitat Areas – seasonal ranges and habitat elements with which federal and/or state listed sensitive, endangered or threatened species have a primary association and which, if altered, may reduce the likelihood that the species will maintain and reproduce over the long term;
B. Important Habitat Areas – habitat areas that are associated with and actively utilized by federal and/or state candidate species and species designated as being of local importance according to the nomination process.
7. Determination Process. The City of George will review each development permit application to determine if the provisions of this section will be applied to the project. In making the determination, the City may use any of the reference maps and/or inventories identified in (the General Provisions Chapter) of this regulation. The following progressive steps will occur upon a determination by the City that a fish and/or wildlife habitat conservation area may exist on a site proposed for a development permit.
A. Step one: Staff will determine if there are any possible fish and/or wildlife habitat conservation areas on-site. This determination shall be made following a review of information available, as outlined in Title XX, as well as a site inspection and/or a consultation with a qualified fish and/or wildlife biologist, if deemed necessary by the City. If no fish and/or wildlife habitat conservation area is determined to be present, this section shall not apply to the review of the proposed development.
B. Step two: If it is determined by staff that a fish and/or wildlife habitat conservation area may be present, a site inspection and consultation with federal and/or state wildlife agency personnel shall be conducted to more definitively determine if a fish and/or wildlife habitat conservation area exists on the site. If no, this section shall not apply to the review of the proposed development. If yes, the applicant shall submit a habitat boundary survey and a habitat management and mitigation plan, as provided for in this section.
A. If an area that is subject to a development permit application is determined to be a Priority Habitat Area after going through the determination process described herein, it shall be designated as such, and a habitat boundary survey and a habitat management and mitigation plan shall be developed as provided for in this section.
B. If an area that is subject to a development permit application is determined to be an Important Habitat Area after going through the determination process described herein, it shall be designated as such, and habitat boundary survey and a habitat management and mitigation plan may be required as provided for in this section. Designation as either a Priority or Important Habitat Area is NOT intended to deny development opportunities; rather, it is aimed at either steering growth to more suitable areas where fish and wildlife values will not be unduly compromised, or developing appropriate and adequate mitigation measures to alleviate potential negative impacts.
9. Fish/Wildlife Habitat Boundary Survey.
A. If it is determined through the process identified herein that a Priority Habitat Area exists on a site that is the subject of a development permit application, a fish/wildlife habitat boundary survey and evaluation shall be conducted by a fish or wildlife biologist, as appropriate, who is knowledgeable of wildlife habitat within Grant County. The wildlife habitat boundary shall be field staked by the biologist and surveyed by a land surveyor for disclosure on all final plats, maps, etc.
B. If it is determined through the process identified herein that an Important Habitat Area exists on a site that is the subject of a development permit application, a fish/wildlife habitat boundary survey and evaluation may be required if the proposal meets the definition of “Major Development” as described within this regulation, and if the proposal is determined to have a probable adverse impact on the habitat area. When required, all provisions of the habitat boundary survey and evaluation described in this section shall be followed.
C. The director may waive the requirement for the survey for minor development if:
1. The proposed development is not within the extended proximity of the associated habitat;
2. There is adequate information available on the area proposed for development to determine the impacts of the proposed development and appropriate mitigating measures; and;
3. The applicant provides voluntary deed restrictions that are approved by the City.
D. The fish/wildlife habitat boundary and any associated buffer shall be identified on all plats, maps, plans and specifications submitted for the project.
10. Fish/Wildlife Habitat Management and Mitigation Plan. A fish/wildlife habitat management and mitigation plan is required for all proposed developments determined to be within a “Priority Habitat Area”. For those proposed developments determined to be within “Important Habitat Area”, a fish/wildlife habitat management and mitigation plan may be required if it is determined by the City that the proposal will have probable adverse impacts on the habitat area.
A. When required, a fish/wildlife habitat management and mitigation plan shall be prepared by a biologist who is knowledgeable of wildlife habitat within Grant County.
B. The fish/wildlife habitat management and mitigation plan shall demonstrate, when implemented, that the net loss of ecological function of habitat is minimal.
C. Based on the best available science, the fish/wildlife habitat management and mitigation plan shall identify how impacts from the proposed project shall be mitigated, as well as the necessary monitoring and contingency actions for the continued maintenance of the habitat conservation area and any associated buffer.
D. The fish/wildlife habitat management and mitigation plan shall include maps and narrative descriptions that address at least the following items:
1. Avoiding the impact altogether by not taking a certain action or parts of an action;
2. Minimizing impacts by limiting the degree or magnitude of the action and its implementation, by using appropriate technology, or by taking affirmative steps to avoid or reduce impacts;
3. Rectifying the impact by repairing, rehabilitating or restoring the affected environment;
4. Compensating for the impact by replacing, enhancing or providing substitute resources or environments.
E. A plan by the applicant that explains how any adverse impacts created by the proposed development will be mitigated, including without limitation the following techniques:
1. Use of any federal, state or local management recommendations which have been developed for the species or habitats in the area;
2. Establishment of appropriate and adequate buffer zones;
3. Preservation of critically important plants and trees;
4. Limitation of access to the habitat conservation area;
5. Seasonal restriction of construction activities;
6. Establishment of a timetable for periodic review of the plan.
F. A detailed discussion of on-going management practices which will protect the habitat conservation area after the project site has been fully developed, including proposed monitoring, contingency, maintenance and surety programs.
G. Activities or uses which would strip the shoreline of vegetative cover, cause substantial erosion or sedimentation or affect aquatic life, should be prohibited.
H. The City may waive the requirement for the habitat management and mitigation plan for minor development if:
1. The proposed development is not within the 25’ extended proximity of the associated habitat;
2. There is adequate information available on the area proposed for development to determine the impacts of the proposed development and appropriate mitigating measures; and
3. The applicant provides voluntary deed restrictions that are approved by the City.