Critical Areas Ordinance Update

The County’s critical areas regulations (Skamania County Code Title 21A) address wetlands, fish and wildlife habitat conservation areas, critical aquifer recharge areas, frequently flooded areas, and geologically hazardous areas throughout the County. All critical areas must be designated and their functions and values protected using the best available scientific information – known as best available science or BAS.

Skamania County first adopted its Critical Areas Ordinance (CAO) in July 1997. Minor amendments were adopted in May 2005. A review of the ordinance was last completed in December 2014 which did not make any changes to the ordinance and the ordinance remains largely the same is when first adopted. As part of this review, the County anticipates the adoption of a revised Critical Areas Ordinance.

Why is the County updating its Critical Areas Ordinance now?

The Growth Management Act (GMA) sets forth various land use planning requirements for Washington's 39 counties.  As a partially planning county, Skamania County is required to address critical areas and natural resource lands in its GMA planning. The County is currently undergoing its periodic review of its Critical Areas Ordinance, and is required to review, and if necessary, update its critical areas regulations by June 2019.

Project Updates

A foundational element of the County's Critical Areas Ordinance update is documenting the Best Available Science (BAS) that supports any new and/or revised regulations. This review includes critical area resource documents and guidance that provide BAS-based approaches to protecting the functions and values of critical areas. The BAS review includes peer-reviewed literature, gray literature, expert opinion, and the anecdotal experience of professionals that is relevant to the county, documents prepared for other jurisdictions, guidance prepared by state and federal agencies, and research
from across the country regarding the effectiveness of existing standards and the state of the science. A draft technical report of BAS research was issued in June 2018. The final version of this document was issued in August 2018.

Best Available Science Research

Staff Contact

The project manager for this review is Alan Peters, Assistant Planning Director. Please contact him at with any suggestions or concerns or if you would like to be added to a mailing list for periodic updates. 

Skamania County is updating its Critical Areas Ordinance.
Office Location:
Courthouse Annex
170 NW Vancouver Ave.
PO Box 1009 
Stevenson, WA 98648


Office Hours: Monday - Thursday 7:30am - 5:30pm Closed Fridays & Holidays

Phone Number: (509) 427-3900




UCD Handbook

Underwood Conservation District's Handbook