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14.260.020 Identification and Rating.
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A. Identification of wetlands and delineation of their boundaries pursuant to this chapter shall be done in accordance with the approved federal wetland delineation manual and applicable regional supplement. All areas within the City meeting the wetland designation criteria in that procedure are hereby designated critical areas, except for those exempted in SMC 14.260.040(B), and are subject to the provisions of this chapter.

B. Wetland delineations are valid for five (5) years. For wetland delineations older than five (5) years the applicant shall provide a report from a qualified wetland professional to determine if the delineation is still valid. Based on the opinion of the qualified wetland professional and the City’s professional wetland consultant, the Planning Director may, at his or her discretion, require an updated or new delineation and assessment be made.

C. Wetlands shall be rated according to the Washington Department of Ecology wetland rating system, as set forth in the Washington State Wetland Rating System for Western Washington: 2014 Update (Ecology Publication No. 14-06-029), which contains the definitions and methods for determining whether the criteria below are met.

1. Category I wetlands are:

a. Wetlands of high conservation value that are identified by scientists of the Washington Natural Heritage Program/Washington State Department of Natural Resources;

b. Bogs;

c. Mature and old-growth forested wetlands larger than one (1) acre;

d. Wetlands that perform many functions well (scoring more than twenty-two (22) points). These wetlands:

i. Represent unique or rare wetland types;

ii. Are more sensitive to disturbance than most wetlands;

iii. Are relatively undisturbed and contain ecological attributes that are impossible to replace within a human lifetime; or

iv. Provide a high level of functions.

2. Category II wetlands are wetlands with a moderately high level of functions (scoring twenty (20) to twenty-two (22) points).

3. Category III wetlands are wetlands with a moderate level of functions (scoring sixteen (16) to nineteen (19) points) that generally have been disturbed in some way and are often less diverse or more isolated from other natural resources in the landscape than Category II wetlands. Category III wetlands can often be adequately replaced with a well-planned mitigation project but replacement cannot be guaranteed in any specific case.

4. Category IV wetlands have the lowest levels of functions (scoring fewer than sixteen (16) points) and are often heavily disturbed. These are wetlands that can be replaced or in some cases improved. However, replacement cannot be guaranteed in any specific case. These wetlands may provide some important functions, and should be protected to some degree.

D. Wetland rating categories shall not change due to illegal modifications made by the applicant or with the applicant’s knowledge. (Ord. 2368, 2019)