The Critical Areas Ordinances (CAOs) are a collection of development regulations intended to conserve the functions of environmentally sensitive areas, and to protect the public from hazards associated with developing in areas like floodways and landslide hazard areas. Washington State Law requires cities and counties to include regulations specific to five types of critical areas.
Critical Aquifer Recharge Areas (CARAs)
Fish & Wildlife Habitat Conservation Areas (FWHCA)
Why are we updating the Critical Areas Ordinances Now?
Under Washington State Law, all counties and cities in the state must conduct a periodic review and update of their critical areas regulations. This happens every 10 years as we review and update our Comprehensive Plan, which guides the growth anticipated in the region in the next 20 years. This periodic update provides an opportunity for the County to make sure our regulations are consistent with federal and state policies, and incorporate scientific advancements related to environmental conservation and natural hazards.
Pierce County has produced a report on the "Best Available science" that will be incorporated into these regulations. You can find the full report HERE.
Thank you for your input during the Critical Areas Engagement period!
On June 5th, 2023, County staff shared a summary of the Critical Areas Engagement period and the input we received with the Piece County Council Community Development Committee. You can find our report summarizing the engagement period here.
Your input and the Best Available Science report will help staff to begin drafting Development Regulations. The CAO Engagement was not part of a 'formal comment period', which means we are not required to have a comment period at this stage of the project by the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) or any other policies. County staff will not be responding to each written comment individually as we usually do in a formal comment period. A formal comment period will take place once regulations are drafted.
County staff will continue to endeavor to provide early and continuous public engagement on Critical Areas regulations and all aspects of the Comprehensive Plan update.