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Snohomish County Alternative Mitigation Pilot Final Report

Category: Habitat - Land Use Planning

Date Published: August 03, 2008

Number of Pages: 17


In 2006, the Washington State Legislature allocated funds to the Governor's Office of Regulatory Assistance (ORA) to pilot several approaches to advance alternative mitigation strategies in a watershed context1. Such alternative mitigation strategies were first explored by the Transportation Efficiency and Accountability Committee (TPEAC) established by the Legislature in 1991. TPEAC included partners from local, state, federal and tribal governments and private industry, and sought ways to improve the efficiency and environmental effectiveness of permitting processes for transportation and other large capital infrastructure projects. Since the sunset of TPEAC in 2006, the ORA has continued to focus on increasing regulatory predictability, improving the environmental outcomes of regulatory programs, and promoting the efficient use of regulatory resources.

In the Snohomish County Alternative Mitigation Pilot, the Washington State Departments of Ecology (Ecology) and Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) worked on behalf of the ORA and in partnership with Snohomish County, the Army Corps of Engineers, and other relevant local and regional entities. This pilot was designed to contribute to the Governor’s regulatory improvement strategy by demonstrating the potential of a watershed-based alternative mitigation approach to both increase the effectiveness of compensatory mitigation and improve the efficiency of permit decision-making. To do so, pilot partners focused on these questions:

  • Where are important areas on the landscape for the protection and restoration of watershed processes?
  • Where are important areas on the landscape for maintaining or enhancing habitat for wildlife?
  • What are important areas on the landscape for achieving salmon recovery?
  • How can we use our understanding of these sources of watershed-based information to direct mitigation activities on the landscape?

The watershed-based analyses integrated here can help us understand how to identify strategic sets of actions that address multiple resource needs. Often, our approaches to resource management and recovery are fragmented by topic: aquifer recharge areas, species recovery, wetland and habitat critical areas, and mitigation. Examining how existing scientific data, planning documents, and analytical tools can be used to develop a watershed-based alternative mitigation program is a first step toward the cooperative management of natural resources in Snohomish County/ Water Resources Inventory Area (WRIA) 7. This report summarizes the methods and results of the Snohomish County Alternative Mitigation Pilot and offers suggestions about how to continue working together to incorporate watershed-based information into environmental regulations and ordinances, land use plans, and resource conservation and restoration approaches.