Salmon Strategy

Monitoring and Adaptive Management

Protection of Critical Areas

Skagit County is required by the Washington State Growth Management Act to designate and protect critical areas —wetlands, aquifer recharge areas, fish and wildlife habitat conservation areas, frequently-flooded areas, and geologically hazardous areas. Fish and wildlife habitat areas and wetlands are especially important to healthy salmon populations, including the threatened Chinook species.

The MAAM Program

Many jurisdictions have chosen to protect critical areas using mandatory buffers — strips of land bordering the critical area where development or farming is not allowed. Because buffers can impose a heavy burden on agriculture, Skagit County does not require buffers on ongoing-agricultural lands. Instead, Skagit County requires agriculture to comply with watercourse protection measures designed to prevent harm to critical areas without buffers. Our “Monitoring and Adaptive Management” (MAAM) program is intended to monitor when agriculture is causing harm to critical areas and then define steps to manage the land use activity to prevent that harm from occurring.

Skagit County’s MAAM program, defined in Resolution R20040211 (pdf), consists of two sub-programs:

Both programs have accumulated years of data and issued annual reports, which you can find at the preceding links.

Skagit County’s program was found insufficient (pdf) by the Washington State Supreme Court in September 2007. But because the legislature has imposed a three-year timeout on changes to Critical Areas Ordinances related to agricultural activities, Skagit County is not able to update our CAO relating to ongoing agriculture until the end of the timeout in 2010.

Three-Year Review

Skagit County conducted a scheduled three-year review of its Critical Areas Monitoring and Adaptive Management Program during 2007. The review included a workshop on Thursday, December 6, 2007, where County staff provided a summary of the program and an opportunity for public testimony.

Interested parties were also asked to comment in writing on the program and its methodology, sampling techniques, and data analysis by December 24, 2007.

Skagit County also contracted with the Washington Water Research Center at WSU to obtain an independent scientific review of our water quality monitoring program.

Because the legislature has imposed a three-year timeout on changes to Critical Areas Ordinances related to agricultural activities, Skagit County is not contemplating changes to our CAO relating to ongoing agriculture at this time. Instead, we aim to collect feedback about our program in preparation for changes at the end of the timeout in 2010. We appreciate your assistance.