Habitat Recovery Pilot Program

The Habitat Recovery Pilot Program (HRPP) is designed to streamline the local and state environmental permitting process for habitat recovery projects that benefit freshwater, estuarine, or marine fish, or their habitats. This four-year pilot program (ending June 30, 2025) was created under House Bill 1382 and codified in RCW 77.55.480. The program's intent is to promote and implement habitat restoration as quickly and efficiently as possible, to further bolster the natural resources and natural resource economy of Washington.   

Before applying to the program, project proponents are encouraged to contact HRPP staff via email (HRPP@dfw.wa.gov) or a local habitat biologist for guidance. 

Resources

Contact

Hannah Faulkner, HRPP Coordinator
HRPP@dfw.wa.gov

Environmental permit streamlining

Projects approved for inclusion in the pilot program are not subject to environmental review (RCW 43.21C.030(2)) under the State Environmental Policy Act and are not required to obtain local or state permits or approvals other than the Hydraulic Project Approval permit issued by WDFW, except permits required for participation in a federal program (RCW 77.55.480(3) and (5)).

The permit tables below provide local, state, and federal reviews identified for Habitat Recovery Pilot Program (HRPP) projects and categorize them as "needed" or "not needed". For assistance determining other permits potentially required, contact the Governor’s Office for Regulatory Innovation and Assistance.

If your project includes any federal reviews, Diane Hennessey (Hennessey.Diane@epa.gov) at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) can help you navigate the federal regulatory process. Learn more about EPA’s permit streamlining efforts.

Local permits
Permit type Permit needed under HRPP? Notes
Archeology and historical/cultural resources review Needed Cultural resources review coordinated with Dept. of Archaeology and Historic Preservation and affected federally recognized tribes. May involve site surveys prior to program application.
Building permit Not Needed Construction that requires building permits is generally not considered habitat restoration.
Critical Areas Ordinance review Not Needed Including reasonable use exception.
Demolition permit Not Needed Review of public safety and human health referenced in RCW 77.55.480(2)(b).
Floodplain permit Needed, if applicable Applicant should consult with local government to determine whether the project is in a Special Flood Hazard Area.
Grading, clearing, development permit Needed, if applicable For projects with a Clean Water Act nexus.
Local stormwater management permit Needed, if applicable For projects with a Clean Water Act nexus.
SEPA review – threshold determination Not Needed See RCW 77.55.480(3)
Special use permit Not Needed Review of public safety and human health referenced in RCW 77.55.480(2)(b).
Shoreline Master Program permit (substantial development permit or exemption) Not Needed Except for projects requiring Coastal Zone Management Federal Consistency Determination, when compliance with Shoreline Management Act must be demonstrated.
State permits
Agency Permit type Permit needed under HRPP? Notes
Dept. of Fish and Wildlife

Hydraulic Project Approval

Needed Hydraulic Project Approval is the only state or local permit required for qualifying HRPP projects, except when required for participation in a federal program.
Dept. of Archaeology and Historic Preservation

Archaeology and historical/cultural resources review

Needed Cultural resources review coordinated with Dept. of Archaeology and Historic Preservation and affected federally recognized tribes. May involve site surveys prior to program application.
Dept. of Ecology

401 Water Quality Certification

Needed, if applicable If project requires a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permit. Learn more about 401 Water Quality Certifications.
Dept. of Ecology

Construction Stormwater General Permit

Needed, if applicable For projects disturbing more than one acre (Clean Water Act nexus). Learn more about Construction Stormwater General Permits.
Dept. of Ecology

CZM Federal Consistency Determination

Needed, if applicable For projects that require a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permit and are in one of the 15 coastal counties. Learn more about Coastal Zone Management.
Dept. of Ecology

Shoreline Conditional Use Permit and Variance permits

Not needed  
Dept. of Natural Resources

Aquatic Lands Use Authorization – lease, easement, or right-of-entry (license)

Needed, if applicable For projects on state-owned aquatic lands. Aquatic Lands Use Authorization is a proprietary agreement/contract, not a regulatory permit. Learn more about leasing and land transactions.
Dept. of Natural Resources

Forest Practices Application

Needed, if applicable Forest Practices Applications are regulated under a separate authority (76.09 RCW). Learn more about forest regulation. 
Federal permits
Permit type Permit needed under HRPP? Notes
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permits Needed, if applicable For projects in federal jurisdiction. Learn more about federal regulations and permitting.
Endangered Species Act consultation with U.S Fish and Wildlife Service and NOAA Fisheries Needed, if applicable For projects in federal jurisdiction. Initiated by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Section 106 cultural resources review Needed, if applicable For projects in federal jurisdiction. Initiated by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

HRPP compared to Fish Habitat Enhancement Projects

The Fish Habitat Enhancement Project (FHEP) process is an existing program for streamlining the approval of four specific types of restoration projects:

  1. Elimination of human-made or caused fish passage barriers;
  2. Restoration of an eroded or unstable stream bank employing the principle of bioengineering;
  3. Placement of woody debris or other instream structures that benefit naturally reproducing fish stocks; or
  4. Restoration of native kelp and eelgrass beds and restoring native oysters.

The HRPP does not restrict qualifying applicants based on project type. In addition, the approving pathways for FHEP are different from HRPP. See RCW 77.55.181 and WAC 220-660-050(3) for more details on FHEP.

Program qualification requirements

The qualification requirements for pilot program proposals are described in RCW 77.55.480(2)(a)-(d). Before initiating the qualification process, project proponents are encouraged to contact the Habitat Recovery Pilot Program staff (HRPP@dfw.wa.gov) for guidance.

To qualify for the permit review and approval process, a project application must satisfy the following:

Project requirements

An environmental restoration project must directly benefit freshwater, estuarine or marine fish, or their habitat and must be included on a list of projects reviewed, approved, or funded by one of 13 specific restoration programs (RCW 77.55.480(2)(a)).

Local, state, and federal flood risk requirements

A project must document consistency with local, state, and federal flood risk reduction requirements (RCW 77.55.480(2)(b)). Before applying to the program, proponents must initiate review by the local government with jurisdiction—the county or city where the project would be located—concerning their floodplain ordinance. We encourage early engagement with your local government before applying to the program.

Local governments can find more information on floodplain management, guidance, and technical assistance from the Department of Ecology, the state's lead agency for flood risk reduction.

Cultural resource protection requirements

A project applicant or funding agency must review the project with the Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation (DAHP) and complete any required site surveys before applying to WDFW. A project applicant must document consistency in the application with applicable cultural resource protection requirements, including agreement with federal review where applicable (Section 106). A copy of the application must be provided to DAHP and affected federally recognized tribes at least 60 days before applying to WDFW. See RCW 77.55.480(2)(c).

Funding agency coordination. Project proponents should check with the project funding agency before contacting DAHP or affected tribes directly. For example, the Recreation and Conservation Office (RCO) manages grants for many of the projects reviewed, approved, or funded through the 13 restoration programs listed in RCW 77.55.480(2)(a). For those projects, RCO generally coordinates cultural resources review with DAHP and affected tribes.

For projects that fall under federal jurisdiction—such as activities near waters requiring a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers—cultural resources review may not be considered complete until the federal review process is finished and documentation of that approval is provided by the applicant. In these instances, RCO, in consultation with DAHP, may only consider cultural resources review complete pending federal review. Refer to RCO’s grant requirements for more information.

Project proponent coordination. When grant funding for projects is not managed through RCO, and another funding agency does not coordinate cultural resources review, proponents must follow the steps outlined in RCW 77.55.480(2)(c). These steps include providing copies of the application to DAHP and affected federally recognized tribes at least 60 days before applying to WDFW. See DAHP’s guidance on conducting an archeology project review to determine effects on cultural resources, as well as tribal consultation information.

Land use authorization requirements

For a project that requires a lease or other land use authorization from the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) because of its location on state-owned aquatic land, the applicant must provide the project proposal to DNR at least 30 days before applying to WDFW. The project applicant must include in their application to WDFW a signed Joint Aquatic Resources Permit Application (JARPA) Attachment E (RCW 77.55.480(2)(d)). If you are unsure whether or not your project occurs on state-owned aquatic land, please reach out to your DNR Aquatics Land Manager in advance of your application to WDFW to avoid delays.

Application process

An applicant must use WDFW’s online Aquatic Protection Permitting System (APPS) to apply for approval under the Habitat Recovery Pilot Program (HRPP). A complete application to WDFW must meet the requirements of a construction project in state waters (per RCW 77.55.021) and document consistency with the qualifications described in RCW 77.55.480(2), including inclusion in one of 13 specific restoration programs, consistency with flood risk reduction requirements, completion of cultural resources review, and acknowledgment from the DNR for those projects that occur on state-owned aquatic lands. An applicant must include a supplemental application form and associated documentation affirming their understanding and completion of qualification requirements.

When applying to WDFW, the applicant must also provide a copy of the application to their local government, Multi-Agency Permitting Team members (refer to next section, "Review process"), and affected federally recognized tribes (RCW 77.55.480(4)(a)). 

If you are unfamiliar with the HPA application process, or would like to initiate the process before completing program qualification requirements, we encourage you to submit a general concept (pre-application) for review through APPS. A habitat biologist and HRPP staff (HRPP@dfw.wa.gov) can then help you answer questions and offer early feedback.

For questions about using APPS, contact the WDFW help desk at 360-902-2422 or APPS.help@dfw.wa.gov.

Review process

Once WDFW determines a Hydraulic Project Approval (HPA) application for review under the program is complete (per RCW 77.55.021 and 77.55.480), WDFW alerts the local government, Multi-Agency Permitting (MAP) Team members (refer to table below), and affected tribes of the accepted application. WDFW habitat biologists then have 45 days to review, condition, deny, and/or issue a permit.

Within the first 25 days, any member of the local government, MAP Team, or affected tribes may request that the application be placed on “hold” and immediately convene a meeting with all parties to review and evaluate the project. The requesting entity must provide a basis for its concerns and potential pathways to address those concerns.

WDFW or, where applicable, the MAP Team shall exclude any project from the review and approval process under the program if it concludes the project may adversely impact human health, public safety, or the environment, or if the project’s scope or complexity renders it inappropriate for streamlined review.

For details about the application review process, refer to RCW 77.55.480(4).

What is the Multi-Agency Permitting (MAP) Team?

The MAP Team was created under the HRPP to cooperatively navigate the new program and to provide a centralized review and evaluation process. The MAP Team consists of self-selected representatives from the state agencies listed below.

Agency Member Role Email
Washington Dept. of Fish and Wildlife Hannah Faulkner, HRPP Coordinator Primary HRPP@dfw.wa.gov
Washington Dept. of Fish and Wildlife Liz Bockstiegel, HPA Statewide Coordinator Alternate HRPP@dfw.wa.gov
Washington Dept. of Ecology Jeremy Sikes, Senior Shoreline Planner Primary MAPteam@ecy.wa.gov
Washington Dept. of Ecology Sydney Fishman, Shoreline Armoring Planning Associate Alternate MAPteam@ecy.wa.gov
Recreation and Conservation Office Alice Rubin, Senior Outdoor Grants Manager Primary MAPteam@rco.wa.gov
Governor's Salmon Recovery Office Jeannie Abbott, Lead Entity Program Manager Primary MAPteam@rco.wa.gov
Washington Dept. of Natural Resources Michal Rechner, Assistant Division Manager, Aquatics Primary Michal.Rechner@dnr.wa.gov
Puget Sound Partnership April Gassman, Salmon Permitting Projects Coordinator Primary April.Gassman@psp.wa.gov
Puget Sound Partnership Stephanie Suter, Planning Program Manager Alternate Stephanie.Suter@psp.wa.gov