Biodiversity Areas and Corridors Map User Guide


Published: May 12, 2023

Pages: 14

Author(s): Azerrad, J. M., J. L. Michalak, and T.P. Johnson.

A Priority Habitats and Species document.

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


The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) recognizes local governments’ authority and responsibility to manage land use – including for purposes beyond protecting fish and wildlife habitat. WDFW appreciates the complexity local governments face when designating and protecting habitats and species; the agency takes seriously its responsibility to provide supportive technical assistance.

The Priority Habitats and Species (PHS) Local Government User Guides are intended to augment the technical assistance WDFW Habitat Biologists provide to local governments in support of their land use responsibilities under 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, 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 (i.e., 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 Biodiversity Areas and Corridors map for the Columbia Plateau can help inform land use decisions and describes key features and limitations of the map. In our assessment, the map and associated PHS Technical Report: PHS Biodiversity Areas and Corridors 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 map and technical report, but it is not BAS itself. Appendix A contains several Frequently Asked Questions for local government planners, policy makers, and citizens. Appendix B lists experts who reviewed the mapping process and results. Appendix C provides links to additional resources. For case-specific applications of this User Guide, users are encouraged to contact a local WDFW Habitat Biologist.

Suggested citation

Azerrad, J. M., J. L. Michalak, and T.P. Johnson. 2023. PHS Local Government User Guide: Biodiversity Areas and Corridors Map. Habitat Program, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Olympia, Washington.