Council Passes CAO Changes Without Using Most Recent DOE Science

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Dear CSA Friends and Neighbors,

On February 11, while Councilman Jarman was in the hospital, Councilmen Hughes and Stephens passed amendments to the Critical Areas Ordinance (CAO) that increase critical area review areas for development near wetlands from 205 to 300 feet, and from the fish and wildlife habitat critical area (FWHCA)—the shoreline—from 110 to 200 feet.
At the same Council meeting, the Council learned that in October of last year, DOE’s head wetland specialist Tom Hruby, published an Update on Wetland Buffers: The State of the Science, Final Report.” That report recommends a site-specific approach to buffers.
All along, CSA has been fighting for site-specific buffers.  However, in reviewing the CAO to meet the Growth Board’s requirements to be in compliance with the GMA, the current County Council voted to change from a site-specific buffer system to the DOE Wetland rating system—“a one-size fits-all” fixed buffer width approach.  This approach goes far beyond what the Growth Board was requiring and is not in agreement with the most recent DOE best available science.
Why, we ask, was the Council not made aware of this new report before they began deliberating on compliance issues?
You can read more on this topic, by linking to two recent articles found on the Trojan Heron blog. One article A Buried Report,” and the other “Even a Blind Squirrel.”
CSA needs your help on these important matters!
If you are willing and able to speak up about the CAO and Council’s actions, please send writen comments to the council and/or plan to attend what may be the final opportunity for public comment on the CAO revisions at 9:15am Tuesday, February 25th in the Legislative Hearing Room at 55 Second Street in Friday Harbor.
Please consider supporting CSA’s efforts by making a tax-deductible donation to the cause through one of the means found below.
– Common Sense Alliance