wa-law.org > bill > 2023-24 > SB 6143 > Original Bill

SB 6143 - Salmon habitat planning


Section 1

The legislature finds that salmon recovery efforts have been instrumental in helping some species turn the corner towards recovery and have slowed the decline of several other species. However, while great progress has been made in implementing critical salmon recovery projects, more work is needed at the state, but also, local level in order to further protect and restore habitat.

The legislature further finds that the state's population has continued to grow at a dramatic pace, growing by 1.6 million people since 1999, when the statewide salmon recovery strategy was adopted. A growing population needs housing, drinkable water, and other resources, which can put a strain on habitat critical to salmon. Development along shorelines can erode coastal areas, leaving beaches inhospitable to salmon and the fish they eat. Development of land along streams often removes the trees and bushes that provide shade, filter pollution, and create beneficial salmon habitat with discarded leaves and branches. Land development also increases paving and impervious surfaces, which in turn increase the amount of pollution and contaminated stormwater entering waterways. Finally, population growth increases the need for water for drinking, for use in homes and businesses, and for irrigation. More demand for water often impacts the quality and the amount of water left in streams to support salmon.

Moreover, since much of growth planning occurs at the local level, the legislature finds that statewide salmon recovery and conservation efforts could benefit further through strengthened policies and regulations adopted by counties and cities. Therefore, the legislature intends to enact guidelines for the preservation and enhancement of anadromous fisheries in order to assist counties and cities with the development of planning initiatives beneficial to local and statewide salmon recovery.

Section 2

  1. Subject to the definitions provided in RCW 36.70A.030, the department shall adopt guidelines, under chapter 34.05 RCW, no later than September 1, 1990, to guide the classification of: (a) Agricultural lands; (b) forestlands; (c) mineral resource lands; and (d) critical areas. The department shall consult with the department of agriculture regarding guidelines for agricultural lands, the department of natural resources regarding forestlands and mineral resource lands, the department of ecology regarding critical areas, and the department of fish and wildlife regarding conservation and protection of anadromous fisheries in critical areas, utilizing the guidelines developed in RCW 36.70A.172.

  2. In carrying out its duties under this section, the department shall consult with interested parties, including but not limited to: (a) Representatives of cities; (b) representatives of counties; (c) representatives of developers; (d) representatives of builders; (e) representatives of owners of agricultural lands, forestlands, and mining lands; (f) representatives of local economic development officials; (g) representatives of environmental and conservation organizations; (h) representatives of special districts; (i) representatives of the governor's office and federal and state agencies; and (j) representatives of Indian tribes. In addition to the consultation required under this subsection, the department shall conduct public hearings in the various regions of the state. The department shall consider the public input obtained at such public hearings when adopting the guidelines.

  3. The guidelines under subsection (1) of this section shall be minimum guidelines that apply to all jurisdictions, but also shall allow for regional differences that exist in Washington state. The intent of these guidelines is to assist counties and cities in designating the classification of agricultural lands, forestlands, mineral resource lands, and critical areas under RCW 36.70A.170.

  4. The guidelines established by the department under this section regarding classification of forestlands shall not be inconsistent with guidelines adopted by the department of natural resources.

Section 3

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    1. In designating and protecting critical areas under this chapter, counties and cities shall include the best available science in developing policies and development regulations to protect the functions and values of critical areas.

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      1. In addition, counties and cities shall give special consideration to conservation or protection measures necessary to preserve and enhance anadromous fisheries.

      2. The department of fish and wildlife must adopt conservation and restoration guidelines in order to assist counties and cities in the preservation and enhancement of anadromous fisheries. The guidelines must identify:

(A) Priority marine nearshore habitat as well as stream segments and riparian habitat that represent the most important habitat areas to preserve through public acquisition or other conservation measures, including core spawning areas as well as migratory and rearing corridors for salmon species;

(B) Incompatible land uses with salmon recovery and habitat preservation; and

(C) Methods for improving and preserving salmon habitat.

    iii. The department of fish and wildlife must consult with tribal fisheries restoration experts and other interested parties as required under RCW 36.70A.050(2) in developing the guidelines under this subsection.

    iv. The department of fish and wildlife and the department may exclude a county or city from elements of the guidelines if the county or city has no or minimal areas of critical habitat for salmon stocks.

v. The department of fish and wildlife must complete the guidelines by January 1, 2025, in order to allow cities and counties to update critical areas policies and development regulations as part of their next periodic review or implementation progress report required under RCW 36.70A.130.
  1. If it determines that advice from scientific or other experts is necessary or will be of substantial assistance in reaching its decision, the growth management hearings board may retain scientific or other expert advice to assist in reviewing a petition under RCW 36.70A.290 that involves critical areas.

Section 4

(1)(a) Each comprehensive land use plan and development regulations shall be subject to continuing review and evaluation by the county or city that adopted them. Except as otherwise provided, a county or city shall take legislative action to review and, if needed, revise its comprehensive land use plan and development regulations to ensure the plan and regulations comply with the requirements of this chapter according to the deadlines in subsections (4) and (5) of this section.

Section 5

By December 30, 2029, the department of fish and wildlife and the department must review and report to the legislature in compliance with RCW 43.01.036 on county and city adoption of critical areas policies and development regulations that implement the guidelines for the preservation and enhancement of anadromous fisheries under RCW 36.70A.172.

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