PHS Shrubsteppe and Eastside Steppe Map User Guide


Published: March 30, 2023

Pages: 17

Author(s): Folkerts, K. E., T. P. Johnson, and J. L. Michalak

A Priority Habitats and Species document.

Reference the Technical Report (PDF) and At-a-Glance (PDF) documents related to this user guide.


WDFW recognizes local governments’ authority and responsibility to manage land use – including for purposes beyond protecting fish and wildlife habitat. The agency deeply appreciates the significant role that local governments have in protecting habitat and species – without which it would be impossible for WDFW to fulfill its mission on behalf of all Washingtonians. WDFW also appreciates the complexity local governments face when designating and protecting habitats and species; the agency takes seriously its responsibility to provide supportive technical assistance.

PHS Local Government User Guides are intended to augment the technical assistance Area Habitat Biologists provide to local governments in support of the many land use responsibilities the Legislature has given local governments in the Growth Management Act (GMA, RCW 36.70A), Shoreline Management Act (SMA, RCW 90.58), Voluntary Stewardship Program (VSP), and State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA, RCW 43.21C).

The details of Critical Area Ordinances (CAOs), Shoreline Master Programs (SMPs), and other development regulations varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. For purposes of this PHS Local Government User Guide, we assume that a jurisdiction’s CAO contains the following common provisions:

(a) PHS Priority Habitats and Priority Species are designated and protected as Fish and Wildlife Habitat Conservation Areas (FWHCAs),

(b) PHS maps are adopted and incorporated by reference,

(c) for projects that potentially disturb FWHCAs, applicants are required to complete a critical area report (aka habitat management plan) to delineate and evaluate the FWHCA, and

(d) the planning department has the discretion to require a screening level critical area report (in lieu of a more extensive report) when warranted.

This PHS Local Government User Guide describes how the PHS Shrubsteppe and Eastside Steppe maps can help inform land use decisions. In our assessment, the maps and associated PHS Technical Report: PHS Shrubsteppe and Eastside Steppe Map meet the definition of Best Available Science (BAS). This User Guide is a guidance document that incorporates WDFW’s assessment of BAS from the maps and technical report, but it is not BAS itself. It describes key features and limitations of the map. The appendix contains several Frequently Asked Questions for local government planners, policy makers, and citizens. For case-specific applications of the ideas contained in this User Guide, users are encouraged to contact local Area Habitat Biologists. This website provides their contact information.

Suggested citation

Folkerts, K. E., T. P. Johnson, and J. L. Michalak. 2023. PHS Local Government User Guide: Shrubsteppe and Eastside Steppe Map. Habitat Program, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Olympia, Washington.

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